farmers markets

Summer squash, with its gorgeous and creamy butter-yellow skin, is in the farmers' markets.

When I was a kid, I ate so much squash - fresh from the garden - that I was sure I'd never suffer another bite. The typical dish we ate consisted of a medley of sautéed summer vegetables - squash, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and sweet corn. It was delicious!

But even the tastiest dishes soon grow old if repeated too often. There really are only so many ways to sauté or stuff a squash.

I was intrigued by these Summer Squash Sloppy Joes featured in the July 2006 edition of Cookie

But since we're trying to cut back on meat, rather unsuccessfully, I might add, I thought we'd try this recipe with mushrooms as a replacement for the ground beef or turkey. You might substitute firm crumbled tofu too.

Summer Squash Sloppy Joes
adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark


* 3 Portobello mushroom caps, diced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
* 1 carrot, grated
* 1 1/2 cups summer squash, diced
* 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 3 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

* 6 Challah buns

1. Preheat the broiler. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms until browned, about five minutes. Add the garlic, onion and carrots, then sauté another two minutes or until just soft. Finally, add the squash and sauté about a minute more.

2. Stir in the tomato paste and 1 1/4 cups water, stirring until the paste has dissolved. Add the chili powder, paprika, and oregano, and season with the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Divide the cheese among the bottom halves of the Challah buns. Transfer both halves of the buns to the broiler, open-faced, and toast until the cheese has melted and the top buns are toasted.

4. Remove the buns from the oven and fill each sandwich with the squash-and-mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.

For a side dish, try this Asian Coleslaw recipe - a nutty-vinegary, sweet and nice counterpoint to the picquant Sloppy Joes.

Do turnips get any bigger than this?

DSC_0452On a recent Saturday, the boy and I decided to see what was doing at the Durham Farmers Market.

Specifically, I was looking for my donut muffin fix from Scratch Seasonal Artisan Baking and then to buy some winter vegetables to make up for my fall from dietary grace.

I stopped at Brinkley Farms for a couple of beautiful acorn squash and a pound of anti-biotic free pork chorizo - the crumbly Mexican kind. Total expenditure: $8

Next stop was Chapel Hill Creamery where the cheesemakers Portia McKnight and Florence Hawley were sampling a lovely stinky soft cheese so new it had No Name. No Name cheese was delicious and only $8 for a generous half round.

We inquired after the subscription at Tiny Farm - $15 for a box of winter greens and root vegetables - that can be picked up at the market of the farm. We signed up for the no-obligation email alerts.

On our way out, we spied an enormous turnip nearly as big as the boy's head at Hurtgen Meadows Farm. I've seen some whoppers before, but this one takes the blue ribbon. The folks at Hurtgen were giving Mr. Turnip Head away to the person who could guess it's weight within a tenth of an ounce.

Let me preface this by saying, I don't usually win anything. Not since I used to fool the guys at the State Fair who guessed your weight. You won if they were off by 5 pounds. I am pretty tall and used to be skinny as a string bean. They always got robbed.

Anyway, the boy guessed 5 pounds. Ha. Wild guess! I took a stab with 2 pounds, 4 ounces. Unbelievably, I was exactly right. To the very ounce. Incredible.

Mr. Turnip Head tasted very delicious diced and mixed with Swiss Chard and chorizo in a big old Stromboli. He was a good old root.