The market was busy with people stocking up for a big holiday finale, and no wonder: There are some excellent seasonal treats from the market, even as we find ourselves standing at the doorstep of winter. Back home the action this time of year is in Piazza Navona, where there's a huge outdoor market featuring La Befana, the Christmas witch that used to freak me out. (She rides a broom and brings you coal on January 6th; you might recognize her from the Kitchen Witch fad in the '70s.) So cook something to make you feel warm as the weather turns colder, and don't forget to share.
What I found this week:
Give Organic Chanterelles a try (see above). With their fruity aroma reminiscent of apricots and their tender texture, they're a perfect complement to scallops. Reduce their juices with some white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc) and you have a perfect pan sauce for this much beloved shellfish. Recipes from Allrecipes and Epicurious.
Choy Sum, one of my favorite asian vegetables, is plentiful on the stands. These have a rich, mustard-like tang and bright yellow flowers that you eat. Stir-fry these with a little black vinegar and some fresh ginger for a taste sensation.
Blood oranges are starting to appear on the stands. They have a particular, deep flavor that's fantastic in desserts (don't get me started about blood orange gelato...) and you can't beat them for visual appeal and versatility (try them for a twist on duck a l'orange). Recipes from Epicurious.
Just in time for crab season, Meyer lemons have appeared on the stands to make the perfect tart/sweet aioli for dipping. Recipes from Epicurious.
For foodies you know who celebrate Christmas, pick up a fragrant rosemary wreath for a seasonal, edible, and environmentally savvy gift. Since decorating with greenery is a midwinter tradition that dates from pagan times back home in Rome, you might pick up a wreath for the Solstice party people on your list too. Buon Natale e Salve Solstice!