When I decided to sell baked goods at the Matthews Community Farmers Market, I had no idea the impact being a vendor at my town market would have on my life. Not only has Queen City Kitchen been well received by the community, but I’ve also made some really good friends who look out for each other like family. Whether it be something as simple as help with booth repair or set-up, or a significant life event, the wonderful people that make up the Matthews Farmers Market are there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.
Being a vendor at the Matthews Market is not just about selling products and making money, it’s about the relationships we build with our customers. Queen City Kitchen has been blessed by the people who take time out of their Saturdays to stop by our booth. I sell baked goods, so it’s pretty easy to make people happy with an assortment of sweet treats and goodies. But when they come back to tell me that something they bought from me was the best they ever had or reminds them of their mom and/or grandma, I feel honored to be a positive part of their day. I know it sounds hokey and a little corny to gush over customers, but I truly love and appreciate them. Without my customers, I would be spending way too much money on European butter for no reason.
Since food is my love language, I recently prepared a simple lunch for everyone as a thank you. In keeping with the farm stand theme, I made a simple pasta salad featuring some of the seasonal produce now available at the market. It was the least I could do for all that has been done for me and my business.
The Matthews Community Farmers Market is a special place and a true community, and I am proud to be a part of it.
Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!
Spring Pasta Salad
Makes 6 servings
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse-ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ jar artichoke hearts, drained and cut into chunks
Coarse-ground black pepper
8 ounces fresh asparagus, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 (12-ounce) box bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large carrot, peeled
1 medium zucchini
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted under running hot water
3 cups arugula, loosely packed
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Shaved Romano cheese, for garnish
To make the vinaigrette, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, and sugar in a medium bowl until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
Place the tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and basil. Allow the vegetables to sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the asparagus to a bowl of salted ice water to shock. Add the pasta to the same water and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under running cold water. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel one long strip of the outside skin of the zucchini and discard. Peel long strips of carrot and zucchini directly into the bowl with the pasta. Be sure to turn the zucchini once you get close to the middle to avoid peeling seeds into the salad, discarding that first outside layer of peel.
Add the peas, arugula, tomatoes, artichokes, and parsley to the bowl with the pasta. Wisk the vinaigrette and pour half onto the salad. Gently toss to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more dressing, if desired. Garnish the salad with Romano cheese shavings and serve.