The Benefits of Farmer’s Markets & My Recipe For Portabella Mushroom Ravioli in a Marsala Sauce

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I have childhood memories of going to the Farmer’s Market in Bethpage near Grumman with my parents. It was a huge building with a carousel in the middle. We would stop by the many individual sections where you could purchase specialty foods. There was the pickle man and the cheese monger. In the largest area, you could see farmers delivering locally grown fresh vegetables. There was a fresh bread section, a bakery, an Italian food market and a florist. I could go on and on. Somehow, the Farmer’s Market died, and the only place to find fresh produce was at roadside farmstands. Now, as if it’s a new concept, Farmer’s markets have been popping up for the last several years—and thriving! Americans have finally realized that the way their great grandparents ate and the way many Europeans still eat is much healthier than the food we have been consuming for the last few decades. Box foods riddled with chemicals and preservatives can only lead to health issues down the road. So, what was once old and forgotten is new again. If you haven’t visited your local Farmer’s Market, I urge you to do so. What a great place for the cook and non-cook alike. For the culinary creator, you will find organic fruits and vegetables of every variety. Spices, cheese, honey, fresh pastas and even real Greek yogurt in clay pots made from an old family recipe. For the non-cook or for the busy person looking to supplement their meal, there are dozens of ready-made fresh products to take home. Breads, cakes and pies. Pasta sauces, salad dressings, salsas and empanadas. They even had fresh treats for my little dog Chestnut!

One of my favorite restaurants in Port Jefferson is The Fifth Season. Their menu changes four times a year with each season, and they use locally grown fresh in-season ingredients. I give a full review of the Fifth Season in Boating Times Magazine. A few months ago, I ordered the portabella mushroom ravioli with a Marsala wine pan sauce. Knowing I would have to wait until spring to once again order this dish at the restaurant, I decided to make my own version at home. The pasta vendor at the Farmer’s Market promised I would love his fresh portabella ravioli, so I gave it a try. It did not disappoint. The pasta to mushroom ratio was perfect. The flavor was rich but not overpowering. Below is the recipe for the sauce. It is not exactly like the one I had at the restaurant, but it was also very tasty and a perfect compliment to the delicious pillows of portabella.

Portabella Mushroom Ravioli In Marsala Pan Sauce

2 portabella caps, cut in half and sliced                  1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

1 large shallot                                                                      2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter                                2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ cups Marsala wine                                             3-4 slices pancetta, microwaved crisp

2 cups chicken broth                                                 Fresh chives, snipped

1 pound fresh portabella                                            Shaved grated Parmesan

mushroom ravioli

Sauté the sliced portabella caps and shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat about seven minutes. Start a pot of water to boil for the ravioli. Don’t forget to salt the water. Add the Marsala wine to the mushroom and shallot mixture. Bring to a boil and then add the chicken broth. Simmer approx. ten minutes. Drop the pasta in the boiling water. It will not need more than 6 minutes to cook. In a small bowl make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Add it to the sauce while whisking. Simmer one to two minutes. Take off the fire and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk to blend. Plate the ravioli first. Spoon sauce over ravioli and garnish with pancetta, chives and Parmesan.

*Hint – Pancetta should be as crisp as bacon. Microwaving it on a ridged bacon pan will keep the grease away.

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