Beer and the Farmers Market

Cooking with Beer by | Sep 2011 | Issue #56

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Each time I visit a farmers market, I am inspired to cook. The bounty changes every week, and new varieties come with each season. Fresh vegetables and fruits are ripe and ready to be experimented with in the kitchen. The below recipes are a guide to how the freshest foods from your local area can be transformed into cuisine à la bière dishes at your table. Enjoy.

Padrón Peppers
These little green peppers are the perfect bar snack. Originating from Spain, this variety of pepper is usually served as a tapas dish. Typically, they are slightly sweet with a pepper undertone and very small seeds, if any. However, every once in a while, you might get one with a spicy kick that begs for a gulp of IPA or other quenching brew.

Serves: 2 people

3 tbsp. olive oil (from Spain, if available) or rendered duck fat
2 baskets padrón peppers, washed and dried
sea salt, large flaked, like Maldon or a smoked salt

In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil (or duck fat) and then add the padrón peppers. Using tongs, turn the peppers to lightly blister the skin all over, adding a little color, about 3–4 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a serving plate and sprinkle with a coarse or flaked salt. Then pick it up by the stem, and eat the pepper in a single bite!

Apricots, Curried Onions, Damnation-Infused Quinoa Salad
Think of this recipe not as a salad, but as building blocks to a sensory experience. The treatment of each ingredient takes the palate to a place where texture, flavor, color and aroma mingle. The nutty quinoa mixed with a Golden Strong Ale creates a malt backbone for the other flavors to bounce off of, like the sweet, rich and juicy apricots with a touch of tartness; the curry spices and silky onion infuse the crispness, and the light spot of basil adds freshness. All these flavors work together to add depth to this delectable salad.

Serves: 4 as an entrée

Russian River Damnation-Infused Quinoa Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup quinoa, available at specialty and health food shops
1 tsp. kosher salt
375 mL Russian River Damnation, or other Golden Strong Ale
5 oz. water
1 tsp. thyme, fresh

Russian River Damnation-Infused Quinoa Directions:
In a medium-size pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and quinoa. Stir to coat the grains evenly and lightly, toasting for about 3 minutes. Add the salt, Damnation ale, water and thyme, bringing the mixture to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, turning down the heat to low, and cook the quinoa rice for about 18–20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff the grain and transfer it to a large bowl. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature.

Curried Onion Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 each onion, Walla Walla or other sweet variety, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. curry powder, hot or mild
1 each orange zest, grated fine (using a Microplane)

Curried Onion Directions:
In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and onions, stirring to cook evenly. After about 3 minutes, add the salt and cook another 2 minutes, just until the onions start to become transparent but still hold their shape. Add the curry powder and orange zest, mixing into the onions, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.

Salad Ingredients:
5 each apricots, ripe, washed, pit removed, sliced
2 each Belgian endives, sliced
10 each basil leaves, washed and cut chiffonade style
2 tbsp. hemp seeds, lightly toasted
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
orange, blood orange or tangerine-infused olive oil

Salad Directions:
Once the quinoa and curried onions are cool, add the slices of apricot, Belgian endive, some of the thinly sliced basil and hemp seeds, and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Toss to mix evenly and transfer to either individual plates or a large serving platter. Garnish with a few of the apricot slices and basil threads. Drizzle the infused olive oil over the salad and serve.

Maibock-Simmered Farro with Farmers Market Treats
Each booth at a farmers market offers its own signature mix of vegetables. Pick and choose what looks good to you—keeping in mind color, texture and taste—and combine what you find to create this seasonal salad.

Serves: 4–6 guests

Maibock-Simmered Farro Ingredients:
22 oz. Rogue Ales’ Dead Guy Ale or other Maibock-style beer
4 oz. water or vegetable stock
1 cup farro, available at specialty and health food shops
1 tsp. rosemary, fresh, washed and chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt

Maibock-Simmered Farro Directions:
In a medium-size pot, add the Maibock, water, farro, rosemary and salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Let the grain simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until the grain is chewy and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Set aside.

Malt Vinegar Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup malt vinegar
1 tbsp. thyme, dried
1 tbsp. Sierra Nevada Pale Mustard or other beer mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. mixed peppercorns, cracked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Malt Vinegar Dressing Directions:
In a 1-cup liquid measuring pitcher, add the malt vinegar, thyme, beer mustard, salt and pepper. Using a small whisk or fork, blend the mixture together until smooth. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until combined. Set aside.

Salad Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
2 each bell peppers, red, washed and roasted, skin removed and sliced
1 lb. English pea pods, peas removed
2 heads broccoli, cut into small flowerets
1/2 lb. green beans (blue lake, yellow wax or haricot vert), stem ends removed
1/4 cup pistachios or pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 each cucumber, salt & pepper or other variety, sliced thin
1/2 each red onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 cup baby arugula, washed and dried
1 bunch basil, stems removed
1 bunch Italian leaf parsley, leaves only
3 tbsp. hemp seeds, lightly toasted
4 oz. Cypress Grove Purple Haze Chèvre

Salad Directions:
Preheat either an outside grill or the oven (450˚F). Lightly toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill for 3–4 minutes or place on a sheet tray and oven roast for 4–5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, and then cut into 2-inch size spears. The oven can be used to roast the bell peppers and toast the nuts.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, seasoning with enough salt to taste like ocean water. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby, along with a skimmer. Once the water is boiling, blanch the fresh vegetables in the boiling water till they are tender, while maintaining a tiny crunch, and then cool them quickly in the ice water bath: peas for 3 minutes, broccoli about 4 minutes, green beans about 4–5 minutes.

In the large bowl, with the cooked farro, add the prepared vegetables along with the cucumber, red onion, arugula, basil, parsley leaves and hemp seeds. Take about 1/3 of the Malt Vinegar Dressing and pour over the prepared vegetables. Toss to coat evenly, and use more dressing if needed. Transfer the salad to individual plates or a large platter, and lightly dress the top of the salad, topping with the crumbled chèvre. Serve with a hoppy IPA, a malt-forward bock or a toasty Brown Ale.