Last weekend I found myself with a free Saturday morning and feeling the “itch” to go to a farmer’s market. Except for a quick demo in late December at the now defunct Rye Brook Market, I’ve been pretty much off the “circuit” since mid-October. November and December are generally the busiest months for a caterer, and Bella Cucina Maria  was no exception. To me, there is just nothing better than hitting your local Farmer’s Market and tooling around for an hour or so, looking at all the beautiful ingredients and letting your mind dream up things to do with them.
The very first post I saw when I opened Facebook that morning was from Gossetts’ Farm Market . Amazingly, it’s one of the Markets I just haven’t visited. As many of you who follow me know, I try very hard to spread myself around the county doing cooking demos, and generally when I am up in that neck of the woods I’m at the John Jay Farm Market , just down the road. Shame on me for not venturing just a few miles beyond! 
As soon as I walked in the door I caught sight of Tara Santoro, downstate Market Coordinator for her brother Mark’s Gaia’s Breath Farm . (I just gave her that title!) Just beyond her I spotted Deb Mills who makes the prettiest handmade jewelry you will find. It was old home week for me! After a post-holiday catch-up they introduced me to Tom Gossett, owner of the Nursery and Market Manger. We chatted for a few minutes about having me do a demo in the coming weeks, most likely February, and then I was off to explore.
After a quick call to Larry to see what he might like to have for lunch, I picked up some delicous goodies from Go-Go Pops and The Farmers Daughter.
More after the jump ….
Tara had some of the farm’s tried and true products like their veal meatballs and wonderful pork sausage. However, I spotted something new I haven’t tried: Turkey Sausage with Rosemary, Spiced Dates and Figs. Right across from her table Madura Farm had not only their incredible mushrooms, but gorgeous big bunches of kale. Not only did I have lunch covered, but dinner as well!
Larry likes to have things to snack on at work without salt, so I do a mix of dry fruits and nuts for him, and bag it up. I basically pick up 5 or 6 containers of various things like almonds, walnuts, apricots, cherries and coconut from Apple Farm on Post Road in Port Chester. My cabinet is never without these nibbles.
After sautéing the onion and garlic I added the sausage links in and got them nice and brown.
Larry was requesting pasta for dinner so a quick check in the pantry brought me some mini-rigatoni. I actually keep a few boxes of this shape on hand. It’s a perfect size for pasta salads. After good wash and de-ribbing I sliced up the kale in thin ribbons.
Once the onions and sausage cooked for about 10 minutes I pushed them to the sides and added the kale. That cooked for about 3 or 4 minutes to wilt down, then I added the fruit. I should also note that while I was sautéing the kale I was cooking the pasta. If the bottom of the pan gets a little sticky use some of the pasta water to scrape up the bits.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with some pasta water and parmesan cheese to bring it all together.
This is a quick and easy dinner to pull together. I had it done done in about 30 minutes.
If you get a chance, take a drive to Gossetts. It’s about 7 miles east from Exit 6, off of 684. It’s definitely worth the trip on Saturday morning! I’ll keep you posted on the date of my demo there too!
A quick mid-week dinner that will be on the table in 30 minutes. This dish combines not only savory and sweet, but also a little crunch from the mixed nuts.
- 1 large onion, 1/4" dice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 lb turkey sausage, I used Gaia's Breath Turkey with Rosemary, Spiced Dates and Figs
- 8 cups thinly sliced kale
- 1/2 cup assorted dried fruits, 1/2" pieces, I used apricots, cherries and blueberries
- 1/2 lb small shaped pasta, I used Barilla Mezze Rigatoni
- 2-3 tablespoons of a thick balsamic vinegar, plus for garnish
- 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
- 1/2 cup assorted unsalted nuts, roughly chopped, I used almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts
- In a large saute pan, over medium heat, caramelize the onion with 2 tablespoons of oil and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Once the onion starts to take on a golden color add the sausage links and brown them on all sides, about 5-8 minutes.
- Push the onions and sausage to the sides of the pan and add the kale in the middle. Drizzle another tablespoon on oil and a 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss a little to help it wilt down.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 1 minute before the noted al dente time on the box. Meaning, if the box says 8-10 minutes cook the pasta for 7 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the liquid.
- Once the kale is wilted add the dried fruits, pasta, 2 tablespoons of thick balsamic and 1 cup of the liquid. Scrape up any sticky bits on the bottom and cook for 1 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of parmesan and toss again.
- Taste the dish for seasoning and add additional cheese and a drizzle or two of balsamic. Just before serving mix in the nuts.
- You can leave the sausages whole, or cut them into smaller pieces. Top with a little more cheese and serve immediately.
Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina  comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She’s an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog , which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook , Twitter  and Pinterest .