One of the major initiatives of both the previous and current presidential administrations is to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle among federal employees, with an ultimate goal of the effort expanding its reach into the private sector through government contractors and other workers, eventually lowering health care costs and premiums for the entire country. Yeah, I know it's a pretty grand plan, and one not likely to work as designed or in a short amount of time, but all politics and opinions aside, some of the overall benefits of the plan aren't too shabby. Plus, with the state of the American waistline these days, I think we need all the help we can get.
One element of this initiative (and benefit to many living and employed in the D.C. Metro area) is a weekly farmers' market in the courtyard entrance of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in downtown D.C. at 1900 E St. NW. OPM invites local vendors in to set up booths and sell their various goods to area employees, George Washington University students, and passers by, not just people who work at the Office of Personnel Management. Each Wednesday during the spring and summer months, farmers, bakeries, florists, and many other local businesses show up to sell their fresh quality items at very good prices.
This past Wednesday I decided to drop by to see what was being offered. The following photos show some of the vendors that you would typically see at this market.
As usual, I ended up walking away with something. This time it was a container of frozen but freshly made pumpkin ravioli from Richmond, Virginia's Cavanna Pasta. I'm a sucker for pumpkin, and this pasta shop makes some pretty good stuff.
Thanks to my small farmers' market bounty of ravioli, I had a jump start to having dinner ready when Wendy got home from work late last night. I also figured it was a good opportunity to make some use of our garden's herbs, and to score some major husband points. I jumped on the Internet and found a good recipe for sage butter sauce that would go perfectly with our ravioli, so I decided to give it a shot.
First, I paid our backyard grocer a visit and clipped the sage leaves I would need for the recipe. The sage has really gotten huge, so it was good to finally be putting it to use. (Check out this post for an update on our organic vegetable garden for more details on what we have growing in our urban space.)
We had pretty much everything that I would need for the relatively simple recipe, except for the amaretti cookies. I pulled out all of the ingredients and placed them on the counter so I could start cooking. As you can see from the photo, it was a super simple recipe.
Note: The recipe called for one full stick of butter, but I decided to only use 1/2. This was still too much. The next time I make this I'll cut it back to 1/4 stick.
This recipe took about 15 minutes to pull together, and the longest step was probably grating the cheese while waiting for the water to boil.
After I was done with the sauce I tossed it and the ravioli together in a large bowl and sprinkled it with the parmigiano reggiano (picture me making wild hang gestures and saying that in a bad Italian accent) just as Wendy walked in the door.
Wendy said the house smelled like a good Italian restaurant when she walked in. And once we plated it up, we both thought it also tasted like a good Italian restaurant. The best part though? Being able to use some of our home grown sage as part of this tasty meal. There's nothing more gratifying than cooking with, and eating, something you've grown yourself.
All in all, I'd say both the farmer's market and the dinner I prepared were a success. If you find yourself in the area of 1900 E. St. NW in Washington, D.C. on a Wednesday this summer, be sure to drop by their market. It's pretty modest in size and offerings, but it is usually worth a look when in the vicinity. If for nothing else, I'm usually able to pick up some flowers for Wendy. That always bring a smile to her face. (Am I on a roll in the husband points department today, or what?)
What are you using your garden bounty for so far this summer? Any great recipes or marinades that feature your homegrown herbs? Is anyone grilling veggies from their garden? In future posts, we'll continue to share new ways that we incorporate our garden's offerings into quick, simple and delicious cuisine.
And for more details on our organic vegetable garden, check out these posts: