As The Bindery
's chef/owner, Linda Hampsten Fox, made her way around the Union Station Farmers' Market
this past Saturday, she stopped and talked to all the vendors while perusing their goods. Getting to know food producers and purveyors is one of her favorite aspects of the market, and while she shopped for EatDenver
's weekly chef's cooking demo, she left with a few business cards as well as armloads of bread, tons of tomatoes and bundles of fragrant fresh thyme.
Rows of tomatoes and cucumbers at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
"I love everything, absolutely everything, from the freshness to the quality of product to the passion of the farmers and craftsmen here," Fox said. "At the Bindery, we are all about the craft of cooking, and everyone here is here for that reason."
The market's vegetable of the week turned out to be summer squash and zucchini, and it became apparent at stands like ACRES at Warren Tech and Micro Farms that the crops are growing strong this summer. The chef selected some bright-green samples from Micro Farms, where she also picked up an impressive bouquet of herbs.
Chef Linda Hampsten Fox of the Bindery ponders produce at Micro Farms.
"Summer squash is coming into season, and a lot of people get overwhelmed by the abundance," Fox noted. So she decided that the day's demo dish would center on the vegetable in a panzanella-puttanesca salad, using chunks of bread from Raleigh Street Bakery. The chef also picked up a loaf of ciabatta from Hinman's Bakery to give her creation contrasting bread flavors and textures.
Zucchini and summer squash are the vegetable of the season right now.
"Panzanella-puttanesca — it's marrying Naples and the Tuscan area, since it's a combination of the two recipes," Fox added, explaining that puttanesca sauce is usually added to pasta. "Originally puttanesca was made to lure fishermen into the beds of women of the night."
So much beautiful bread from Raleigh Street Bakery.
Along with zucchini and summer squash, Fox added striped German, Pink Beauty, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes from Rocky Mountain Fresh, as well as the grower's English cucumbers. Pungent bunches of purple and sweet basil from Cure Organic Farm and pickled garlic from Cajun Pickles, a market newcomer, were also procured. The special Spanish olive oil, Calabrian chilis, cured Kalamata olives and flaked sea salt all came from Fox's LoHi restaurant.
A beautiful table is part of chef Linda Hampsten Fox's charm.
As she ripped bread, sliced tomatoes, tore basil and drizzled in olive oil, the chef talked to the audience about life in Italy (where she lived for many years), world travel, her personal cooking preferences and her daughter, who's now in college. She gave step-by-step instructions to the crowd who had gathered in the sunny spot on that hot market day, noting the complete instructions could be found in her new cookbook that's currently available online
but will soon be sold at the Tattered Cover
Making a panzanella-puttanesca salad during the chef's demo at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
"It's super-simple and really fun, plus you can decide which vegetables and pickles you want to put in it," she explained of the panzanella, adding that the salad gets better the longer it sits, and making it proves a handy use for old bread. "It's a great idea for a picnic or a home barbecue, too."
The finished panzanella-puttanesca salad.
The audience left with a great idea for a flavorful salad and a new way to use summer squash; and the chef walked with some new connections for her restaurant. All of the samples were gobbled up by the hungry crowd, even quicker than the just-in Palisade peaches over at the Morton Orchards booth.
Some young food lovers pepper the chef with questions.
A perfect stack of english cucumbers.
Pickled garlic from Cajun Pickles.
Saturday's chef's demo in Union Station Farmers' Market featured Linda Hampsten Fox of the Bindery.
Chef Linda Hampsten Fox purchases baguettes from Raleigh Street Bakery at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
The panzanella-puttanesca salad was a great refresher on an already sweltering morning.