Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Locavore Dinner - Spinach & Mushroom Tarts with Pan Seared Scallops and Baby Greens Salad

I'm back from the market and I am psyched! This is why I love this store so much. You walk up to the front of it and BAM before you're even inside, they have this sign posted.

You can easily pick out what has been delivered and from where, complete with the Farm's name.

The produce section in this market is a thing of beauty.

So, what did I buy? Well, I have the shitake mushrooms that I grew my very own self. As soon as I walked in I spied fresh baby spinach - all bright green and crisp. I couldn't resist. I'm going to pair the spinach with the mushrooms and make a tart. They also had some lovely baby lettuces, but I have those in my garden and they need to be picked. So I'll make a small salad with a simple vinaigrette.  

Normally, a tart and a small salad would be plenty for dinner, but I wandered into the seafood department. And bless my soul - the fishmonger man was just putting out wild caught New Jersey day boat scallops. I just know they serve these lovely darlings in heaven. I could not resist and I bought a pound of them. 

So I had my main ingredients - but what about the other stuff needed to make the tart? After a little label reading I was able to buy organic, heavy cream and unsalted butter from a dairy in NJ, greek yogurt from a NY dairy and organic, free range eggs from Pennsylvania. My goal was to only buy fresh products from NY, NJ or PA; the tri-state area being about a 100 mile radius from my home. The only thing I couldn't find was locally grown and processed whole wheat flour, so I'm using Hodgson Mill's whole wheat pastry flour. Sigh - even the pioneers brought stuff with them, right? 

Before we get to the recipes let me say this, buying locally grown (organic and sustainably farmed) and produced products cost me about 10% more than buying "brand" products. Not a bad investment in our health and our community. I figure I'm still up on the green scale because I took my own reusable "green" bags to hold my purchases (which reminds me of an event that still makes me see red instead of green, see my side vent)

Side Vent: When I worked in a glass tower in the sky (ie: corporate world), one of my vendors sent my whole team green grocery bags at the holidays. They are heavy duty canvas, attractive and roomy with wide handles. I thought that was a great client gift! One of my co-workers was less than thrilled with the gesture and sent me their bag, saying that after taking the bags home and showing them to his wife "they just don't fit our lifestyle".  DON'T FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE? WTF?? We're not talking major changes here folks. It's a bag. Not like, oh, we had to give up raising llamas and emus.. it just didn't fit our lifestyle. It's a bag for the love of god. "DON'T FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE?" Does global warming fit your lifestyle? Does dependency on foreign oil fit your lifestyle? Do land fills stacked to the heavens with nonbiodegradable plastics fit your lifestyle? Every time I use one of those bags and I think of this person my normally sunny disposition turns dark and I know that people like that are the very reason this planet and this country are in trouble. Phew. 

Sorry. Now where was I? Oh, yes, the recipes. 

Spinach and Mushroom Tarts: (makes four small tarts)

Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you an also use all white, all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup greek yogurt (I know! But trust me, this is the easiest, flakiest, most delicious crust you will ever make) - you can use sour cream instead - but I'm cutting fat and calories.

Place first three ingredients into the well of your food processor. Process one or more times to lighten. Add butter and process until a coarse meal forms. Add yogurt and process until dough comes together. Turn dough out on counter, shape into disk. Cut into four equal parts. Roll out individual rounds and fit into small tart pans. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before filling. 

Mushroom & Spinach Filling:

About 12 ounces fresh spinach, steamed, drained and rough chopped. 
About 6 ounces shitake or other type mushroom
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
5 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper

Steam the spinach, squeeze any moisture from it and give it a rough chop.
Saute mushrooms in 1 teaspoon butter. Cool
Beat eggs with a whisk, add heavy cream and whisk to combine. Add thyme, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lay spinach out on bottom of tart crust, dividing among tarts. Layer mushrooms the same way, dividing evenly. Pour egg mixture over spinach / mushrooms. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes or until set. 

A Cook's Note: You can make one big tart - use a pie tin and call it a quiche. Increase bake time to about 45 minutes. 

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with baby lettuces: (serves 4)

1 pound wild, day boat sea scallops, dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon white balsamic or white wine vinegar
4 cups baby mixed lettuces, washed, heaped on a platter

Melt the butter in a saute pan until froth subsides. Pour off butter, reserving it in a small bowl. 
Dry your scallops* by patting with paper towels. Salt and pepper them on both sides.
Heat up the pan you melted the butter in. It will have some butter residue in it. When almost smoking, add scallops. Don't crowd them. Cook for 2 minutes, turn, cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to platter with baby lettuces. 

Quickly, place reserved melted butter back in saute pan, warm. Add vinegar, salt and pepper and stir quickly to combine. Drizzle warm vinaigrette over scallops and lettuces. 


* This is important. In order to get a golden carmelization on your scallops they need to be dry. 

A Cook's Notes: you can use shrimp instead of scallops. Dry them and make the same way, increasing cooking time by about a minute. 

HEY! If you are striving to eat more local, support your community's farmers, being green, I'd love to hear about it. Be sure to leave me a comment on your triumphs, struggles, ideas. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that place sounds so cool.

    My husband would like these dishes--he's into mushrooms and I've just never liked them.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

Related Posts with Thumbnails