Market happenings: The international food festival Slow Food Nations returns to Larimer Square in Denver this weekend with an event where attendees can connect with farmers and foodies with various events — and taste a bunch of good food, of course. In addition to the Taste Marketplace at Slow Food Nations, there will be workshops, summits and talks all about slowing down our food system and learning to make conscious food choices that provoke change.
The options of events run a wide gamut — from block parties, to a podcast launch, to author book signings — but you can check out the schedule of events, see what is available and create your own curated schedule to print out and follow at slowfoodnations.org/events.
There will be farm-related talks, like “Future of Farming” at 1 p.m. Saturday and “Innovative Farmer” at 10 a.m. Sunday, and a Zero Waste Community Dinner that closes out the weekend Sunday. The dinner will feature local and visiting chefs who will be tasked with using all of the food scraps that are leftover from the full weekend. You might even see a few farmers market-gleaned items on the menu.
Another weekend option in Boulder, kicking off Slow Food Nations, is a community farm dinner at Black Cat Farm hosted by Mad Agriculture and ZeroFoodPrint. The 5:30 p.m. Thursday dinner will include a farm tour and a discussion on regenerative farming. Get tickets at bit.ly/blackcatfarmdinner.
In season now: The local markets are stocked with apricots, arugula, basil, beef, beets, bison, broccoli, carrots, cheese, cherries, chicken, collard greens, cucumbers, eggs, fava beans, flowers, honey, kale, kohlrabi, lamb, lettuce, pea shoots, peaches, pork, micro-greens, mizuna, mushrooms, radicchio, radishes, scallions, snap peas, spinach, spicy greens, spring onions, summer squash, swiss chard, tatsoi, turnips and tomatoes.
Lots of this, please: Golden yellow and green-striped summer squash.
The farmer says: We are all familiar with the classic varieties of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, but stepping outside the squash box will bring you more delight. Look for heirloom varieties like Eight Ball, Costata Romanesco, Sunburst, Ronde De Nice, Flying Saucer and more to experience the different shapes, sizes, textures and flavors that the summer variety of squash has to offer.
The flesh of summer squash is creamy, soft and easy to prepare. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and a great source vitamins A, C, and B. Plus, there are still some squash blossoms floating around the market, but these go quickly and are only found sparingly. If you see them, scoop them up, and ask questions later. Blossoms are meant to be enjoyed immediately, so don’t try to store these delectable flowers.
How to prepare: The summer varieties of squash allow for you to enjoy the entire squash, including the seeds and skin. It also lends itself to most any preparation, be it raw, lightly steamed, baked, sautéed, grilled or in spirals.
Goes with: Summer squash pairs well with eggs, yellow onion, garlic, sweet corn, mushrooms, parsley, tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, potatoes and pasta.
How to store: Do not wash before storing in a plastic bag, with holes, in your refrigerator. Store up to one week. If stored improperly, squash will lose firmness and texture.
Boulder Farmers Market
13th Street and Canyon Boulevard
4-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 2
8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23
Lafayette Farmers Market
400 Block of East Simpson Street
4-8 p.m. Saturdays through Sep. 26
Longmont Farmers Market
Boulder County Fairgrounds
8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23
Union Station Farmers Market
Denver’s Union Station
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 26
Summer Squash Ratatouille
1 cup medium diced yellow squash
1 cup medium diced green zucchini
1/2 cup julienned yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped elephant garlic
3 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
10 basil leaves torn into pieces
1 log goat cheese (Haystack)
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Directions: Start with a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat up for two minutes.
Add the zucchini and squash and saute for three minutes until the vegetables start to brown. Add the yellow onions and continue to sweat until the onions become translucent.
Next, add the garlic and lower heat a touch. Cook until the garlic is aromatic, but make sure not to burn. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and basil. The tomatoes will release water, so simmer all the vegetables for 5 minutes until half of the water has reduced.
Season with the salt, black pepper and lemon juice.
Finally, add the balsamic vinegar and reduce for 2 more minutes until most of the liquid had evaporated. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve on a plate or bowl and finish with the goat cheese. This dish can be served alone or topped with chicken, fish, or steak.
—Chef Colton Wagner, formerly of The Kitchen Next Door (2015)