At the Market with Molly


Allow us to introduce Molly Gilbert. Molly, please meet our loyal bulletin readers. Loyal bulletin readers, please meet Molly.

Through a series of lucky coincidences, we connected with Molly this summer and got to talking about her recent relocation to San Francisco. A graduate of New York's French Culinary Institute and native of Philadelphia, Molly toured the culinary world as a private chef, baker, chocolatier, and test kitchen chef; who now teaches kids cooking classes to some of San Francisco's tiniest residents.

Because we were already fans of her utterly engaging food blog, Dunk and Crumble, and because we often hear the Bay area siren call ourselves, we were thrilled when Molly offered to be our West Coast farm market envoy; searching out the most irresistible produce and sharing her favorite recipes alongside. Now and then, she'll be stopping by The Bulletin to do just that… We hope you'll enjoy her company as much as we do.

Molly's Zucchini Chips & Creamy Spinach Pesto

Molly here! Since moving from the East coast to the San Francisco Bay area a few months ago, I’ve spent what some might say is an inordinate amount of time exploring the city’s prolific farmer’s markets, which dot the surrounding landscape like rainbow sprinkles on a hot fudge sundae. I kind of love it here.

As delighted as I am by the sheer number of farmer’s market options in the area, I’m even more impressed by the staggering variety offered at each one. From ruby strawberries, dark coffee beans, freshly caught fish, and grass-fed beef, to bright lemons, dusty pink beets, soft green figs, and the palest of pale blue eggs; it turns out California’s got a lot to offer. It’s overwhelming, quite frankly, and if I don’t keep a clear head while cruising the endless market stalls, I can quite easily wind up with oh, say, 25 pounds of peaches to carry home.

Luckily, my most recent market trip (my usual Saturday morning jaunt to the Ferry Building farmer’s market, along the Embarcadero) was taken with a recipe in mind. Among the many piles of summer squash at the Ferry Building, I found a beautiful heirloom variety called Costata Romanesco, which is a pale green zucchini, deeply ribbed with a creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor. Sliced thin and simply roasted with a sprinkling of olive oil and sea salt? Houston, we have zucchini chips.

A quick-to-come-together pesto, made with baby spinach, fresh mint, almonds, capers and coconut milk, completes the chip and dip combo. But throw them both atop a bowl of steamy hot pasta, an immensely satisfying meal is born. Either way is a good way, depending on your mood and appetite. Happy market eating, friends!

Zucchini Chips & Creamy Spinach Pesto

For Chips
2 medium or 3 small Romanesco zucchini, washed and dried
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

For Pesto
1 handful baby spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and dried
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup blanched almonds
¼ cup capers, drained
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup light coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds, about an eighth- to a quarter-inch thick. Lay the zucchini rounds onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a very small amount of room between each round. Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt, making sure each piece is lightly coated. Cook the zucchini for about 40 minutes, flipping the rounds halfway through cooking, until they are deeply browned and chip-like.

While the zucchini roasts, make the pesto. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, mint leaves, almonds and capers, and blitz until well incorporated but chunky. Add the olive oil and continue to blitz, adding the coconut milk in a thin stream until the pesto has lightened in color and looks smooth, creamy and thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.

When the zucchini chips have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Serve alongside spinach pesto for snack time dipping, or gently mix the chips and pesto over hot pasta, topping it all off with grated Parmesan, for a fresh and hearty meal.

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