Maybe you’re like me in the summer. You drive around to farm stands or go to the seafood store thinking you’re going to buy one thing. But you wind up buying something else — several something elses in fact. Maybe the ingredient you were looking for wasn’t there or maybe those other things looked so alluring that you couldn’t resist. Sometimes you even buy things you’ve never cooked before.

Then you get home and look at your haul and wonder how in the world you’re going to put it all together. And what if guests are coming, or houseguests are expecting dinner?

It’s enough to make you feel like you’re on Chopped and you’ve got 45 minutes to make something delicious out of a pretty strange assortment.

This happened to me last Saturday, when I thought I was going to make lobster rolls, but wound up buying littlenecks and a handful of sea scallops at the Net Result. Then I stopped at Ghost Island Farm on my way up State Road.

First I spotted the most bodacious head of green oakleaf lettuce. Mine.

Susie Middleton

Then my eyes wandered to the array of gorgeous cooking greens along one wall. As I stood there stupefied by the selection — and peering at something called spigariello — farmer Rusty Gordon (the greens guru himself) appeared. He mentioned he was busy getting the very last of the crops in the ground before July 4th. I asked him how he kept all those greens from being hole-punched by the pesky bugs, and he said that he covers everything in the early stages of growing, only taking the row cover off when plants are starting to bolt (send up flower heads).

Like this spigariello, he noted, which I saw was covered in tiny white flowers. The flowers definitely helped the look, since this quirky bunch of stems and leaves would otherwise invite a comparison to Medusa. Well, I had to have some anyway.

Actually, Rusty had two kinds of spigariello; the second was a larger leaf with a dark green color reminiscent of broccoli leaves. Which, in fact, it was. Turns out spigariello is leaf broccoli!

Susie Middleton

I had wrongly guessed that spigariello was a close relative of rapini (raab, broccoli raab). But it is a true broccoli, whereas raab is more closely related to turnip greens. Of course they are all in the Brassica family, but since broccoli is much less bitter than turnips, it follows that leaf broccoli (spigariello liscia) and flowering broccoli leaves (spigariello riccia) have a mild, nutty-sweet flavor.

I also left Ghost Island with a half-pint of MV Kimchi.

The day before, I had stopped at the Bayes Norton farm stand to buy fresh shelling peas and had come out with three plump heads of garlic, too. And while stopping for a scone and a pint of strawberries at Morning Glory, I had bought two of their greenhouse tomatoes on a whim.

So there I was at home with tomatoes, funny greens, lettuce, peas, garlic, clams, scallops, and, um, kimchi. And I still had some baby fennel from Grey Barn, and a loaf of bread we had picked up the day before from our CSA (The Vineyard Bread Project).

I decided that in my version of Chopped (yes, I was kind of making up the rules on the fly), you get to throw out one ingredient. I decided the kimchi was for another day. Then, you get to add a wild card. I picked some diced prosciutto that was languishing in my fridge.

Susie Middleton

I’ve been wanting to cook clams on the grill since summer started, so I looked at those tomatoes and that garlic and immediately thought of a dish called Clams Al Forno that we made when I was a cook at Al Forno restaurant in Providence eons ago. That one was cooked in a 500-degree oven, but the idea for a robust, saucy clam dish would translate to the grill, I figured.

So I concocted a rif, using fresh tomatoes instead of canned, replacing some of the onions with fennel and chopped spigariello, and adding the prosciutto. Two important things I kept: a generous amount of garlic and the addition of butter (yes butter) at the end.

Between the tomato juices and a little wine, there was just enough sauce in which to simmer the clams (I used two cast iron pans on the grill). And the onions, fennel, and greens gave the whole thing body (and the best stuff to scoop up with bread). Bonus: I seared the scallops at the start, took them out, and nestled them back in at the finish.

Rusty’s lettuce and the fresh peas became a nice green salad. If I’d had time (yes, I ran out of time, so was in danger of being chopped before presenting my final entry), I would have made a version of my Bibb and Fresh Pea Salad with Herbed Buttermilk Dressing and Crispy Bacon. But I cheated on the dressing, using a little store-bought ranch dressing whisked into my own vinaigrette to make a light but creamy dressing.

You’ll be relieved to know I did not get chopped, though the competition was unfairly weighted (aka: nonexistent). But the point is really to stay open minded and flexible when you’re shopping for and cooking local ingredients. Use simple flavors, follow a proven technique, and don’t be afraid to make substitutions. Always serve good bread. And wine. You will be voted on to the next round of the game, I promise.

Recipe: Vineyard Clams Alla Griglia