This is by far my favorite time of year to go to the farmers market, it’s truly amazing. (If you’re interested in joining me next week, there are still a few slots left in my two market tours, 8am and 10am).
More than any other time of year the market is overflowing with life and bounty. The fruits are sweet, juicy and abundant, making it hard to decide which delicate morsels to cradle into my bag and try to get home undamaged.
Sea of Strawberries
We’re finally entering late summer, which means all the best summer tomatoes are finally here. The dry farmed early girls are my favorite, because they’re easiest to get home and amazingly sweet and rich in flavor.
Early Girl Tomatoes
But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!
While we’ve had sweet peppers for several weeks now, the spicy chilies are just starting to appear. I got some jalepenos, but I’m excited to see Thai chilies are available as well.
Eggplants, my gateway vegetable, are also a late summer delicacy. As a former eggplant hater, I find that the long thin plants are easier to work with and often taste better than their rounder cousins. The light purple color of these were particularly striking this week.
Late summer is also the time for corn, which not coincidently pairs exceptionally well with all the above vegetables. I love it raw off the cob or pan cooked quickly with summer squash and peppers. But I’m going to experiment with some new techniques using the ones I bought today.
Of course cooking is more fun with the abundance of summer herbs. This time of year I always have cilantro, dill and basil on hand.
Fresh Dill and Cilantro
If you love basil, look around your farmers market for vendors that sell it with the roots attached. You can bring it home and put it into a vase with water. I’m still using one I bought several weeks ago with one of my market classes. Just be sure to change the water 1-2x per week, and that the plant has access to light. I tried keeping some in my kitchen but it always wilted in one day if I didn’t move it near a window.
This is also my favorite time of year for salads. I make a big one most days for lunch, and the huge variety of greens like spinach and radicchio help mix it up and allow me to make something that tastes different every day. I love how the bloomsdale spinach is so deeply colored that it almost looks blue.
Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.
Cranberry Shelling Beans
Though I don’t talk about it much, melons (particularly the heirloom varieties I often find at the market) are a completely different experience when I get them directly from farmers. The rich complexity of the smell alone is intoxicating, and the flavor is nothing like the typical honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon I’ve had from the grocery store.
Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.
Red Flame Grapes
Today’s purchases (~$55):
What did you find this week at the farmers market?