Sunday, May 10, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Farmer Market's Chitarra with Kale, Nectarines, and Truffled Turkey Meatballs

© Constantine William Spyrou

While it's always much cheaper and efficient to go and purchase ingredients from the supermarket, I love going to the farmer's market when I can during the week and on weekends. I've found there's no better place to get inspired to make a new dish or try something new than at the farmer's market. Not only will you find some of the freshest produce around, but people are coming up with new, trendy ideas and hybrid vegetables as well, making it a great place to have some fun with your food.

I was really fortunate a couple of weeks ago to run into a friend of mine at the farmer's market who was working at one of the stalls. I was looking through different varieties of kale at this stand, and wanted to get a bunch of the Lacinata Kale (which is amazing when cooked and isn't bitter at all when picked fresh). To my surprise, she gave me the bunch for free, but on the grounds that I had to make a dish out of it! 

This took me on an adventure through the farmer's market, trying to get ideas and ingredients to make something innovative with the kale and other fresh produce at the farmer's market. I selected some fresh caracara (kind of like blood orange), nectarines, spring onions, parsley, fresh cheese curds, and this amazing pasta called chitarra (basically fettuccine, but a thinner cut). Using this and some ingredients I had at home, I transformed the produce into an amazing pasta dish.

I really liked this dish because it had a balance that I hadn't thought possible with Italian cuisine and pasta before: a perfect mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy! The sauce was made using pureed tomatoes and cayenne for an Arrabiatta style sauce. The caracara, nectarines, and kale were tossed into it as well to add another level of flavor from their sweet and tart flesh. The sourness of the caracara also played in perfectly and kept the nectarines from being too sweet. 

I paired the pasta with cheese curds, fresh parsley, and some turkey meatballs I made with the caracara zest, spring onion, and some white truffle oil. It added so much to the pasta that it made perfect mouthfuls each time! This is probably one of my favorite recipes that I've made in a while, and I'm excited to share it! :D 

Recipe serves up to 3 people.

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey
Salt and pepper to season
1 tsp white truffle oil
1 1/2 cups chopped spring onion
1 1/2 tbsp caracara zest
1 egg

For the Pasta:

1 package (~10 oz uncooked) chitarra pasta, fresh
1 cup pureed tomatoes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili flake
1 white nectarine, roughly chopped
1 yellow nectarine, roughly chopped
1 medium caracara, segmented
2 cups Lacinta kale, cut into strips
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Cheese curds and parsley for garnish


1) Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs together until well-mixed. Form into baseball-sized meatballs.

2) Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add your meatballs to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes until brown on the first side.

3) Turn over the meatballs, and cook for another minute. Add a small amount of water to the pan, then cover for 3-4 minutes to allow the meatballs to steam through and cook. Let the meatballs rest.

4) At this point, put the water on for the pasta, making sure to salt it.

5) Add the olive oil, kale, garlic, and basil to the same pan that the meatballs were in, cooking until the kale has shrunken down, about 4-5 minutes.

6) Make some space in the pan and caramelize the nectarines for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Add in the blood orange, and stir.

7) Cook the pasta for 3 minutes after it floats.

8) As the pasta cooks, add in the chili flake, cayenne, and tomato puree. Stir together the sauce.

9) Drain the pasta, leaving some of the water to add into the sauce, and stir the pasta and about a tablespoon of the pasta water into the sauce.

10) Toss in a handful of fresh parsley and stir before taking off the heat. Serve with the meatballs, and garnish with chopped cheese curds and more fresh parsley.

This dish is interesting because all of the flavors together work so well! The richness of the tomato sauce is cut by the freshness of the cheese curds and fruit (which is already a great combo). The caracara and nectarines have almost a sweet-and-sour effect on the pasta, which pairs well with the heat of the cayenne, aromatic notes of the parsley, and savoriness of the meatballs. All in all, it makes for a tasty meal of fresh farm produce! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

PS Thanks Jamie Bratman, you rock!