The Market Report

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The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market welcomes a new vender. Mud Creek Ranch from Santa Paula has begun growing quince, which looks a bit like an apple but is much harder. Although you can eat it raw, it’s much better cooked. Cut the fruit in half, scoop out the seeds and bake at 350 degrees until soft, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Quince’s high pectin content makes it a great fruit for making jelly.


Laura Avery also talks with Amelia Saltsman, who has some recipes for pumpkin or winter squash. Amelia's latest book is The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook.

Winter Squash Puree with Shaved Parmesan
Think of this as a master recipe: serve it with bruschetta as an appetizer; double the recipe for a great side dish with roast chicken, turkey, or pork; add beef or vegetable stock to turn the puree into an autumn soup; or use it as a flavor base for risotto.

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 large clove garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 dried árbol chile or pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher or sea salt
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups roasted winter squash (see below)
1/2 cup vegetable or beef stock, approximately
2 to 4 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Winchester sharp Gouda cheese, plus cheese for shaving
1 Tablespoon pumpkin-seed or extra-virgin olive oil

In a skillet, sauté the onion, whole garlic clove, sage, chile and a little salt in the olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the squash, a little more salt and 1/4 cup of the stock. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook to a thick puree, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently and adding stock as needed to keep the mixture smooth and prevent sticking. If the mixture seems too wet, uncover during the last few minutes of cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat, discard the chile, and mash the garlic clove into the squash. Stir in the grated cheese and salt to taste along with the pumpkin-seed oil. The puree can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Top with cheese shavings and serve at room temperature with bruschette.

How to roast winter squash or pumpkins: Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce the squash in a few places with a knife or meat fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is browned, shiny, beginning to lose its shape and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour for a 5-lb squash. When cool enough to handle, cut in half crosswise and scoop out and discard the seeds and strings (or save seeds for another purpose). Scoop the pulp from the “shell.” A 5-lb squash yields about 6 cups cooked pulp. Use as is, or puree or mash with a food processor or a fork and freeze in 2-cup containers for convenient use throughout the season.

Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007)

Farmers’ Market Risotto
Makes 4 servings

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups braised vegetables or vegetable puree or sauce, such as Winter Squash Puree
1 cup Arborio or other Italian rice
6 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock diluted to half strength, at a gentle simmer
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

In a pot, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the braised vegetables and add the rice. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains whiten but do not brown and are coated with the onion-vegetable mixture.

Add 1 ladleful of the simmering stock, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir until the liquid has been completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1 ladleful at a time, always cooking and stirring until completely absorbed before adding more, until the rice is tender but still a bit firm at the center of each grain and creamy, about 20 minutes total. You may not need all of the stock. Or, if you see that you will need more liquid as you near the end of the stock, add a little boiling water to the stock remaining in the pan. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007)

Musical break: Guitar Rhumbo by Guitar Gable