Don’t you just love farmers markets?
There’s something about walking through the stalls, seeing, smelling and tasting everything from homemade bread to pears that makes me so happy.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets listed in its National Farmers Market Directory has increased by 9.6 percent over the past year, from 7,175 markets in 2011 to 7,864 in 2012.
We’re lucky to live in an area with so many great farmers markets, including the No. 1 farmers market in the state, according to American Farmland Trust (AFT).
AFT released the winners of its 4th Annual America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest earlier this month and Iowa City was voted best in Iowa.
Iowa City also made the Top 20 Overall in the contest’s large market (50+ vendors) division.
I pulled double-duty at two farmers markets this past weekend, driving to Cedar Rapids for the last Saturday market of the season before battling game day traffic to support Iowa City students selling produce from several school gardens at the Iowa City market.
I totally deserved the caramel apple I purchased as my reward for hitting both markets. My family’s reward for not commenting on the amount of vegetables I purchased was this delicious vegetable pasta bake. Bonus – it’s another recipe to feature brown butter.
Brown Butter Garden Vegetable Pasta Bake
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta to cook. Drain when finished.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Add in olive oil, then add in onions, zucchini, corn and tomatoes with salt and pepper, stirring to coat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, tossing occasionally, while softened.
While pasta and vegetables are cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in butter and whisk constantly, stirring until bubbly and brown bits appear on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Turn off heat under vegetables and add in pasta. Drizzle in brown butter and add in parmesan, stirring well to coat. Top with provolone, the place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, just until cheese is melted. Remove and serve immediately, garnishing with parsley and extra cheese if desired.
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