Farmers’ Market Update: Indian Summer

by | Sep 13, 2008

Wikipedia says the term Indian summer is meaningless in San Francisco because the weather never changes, but we had a few really hot days recently so I am going to use it anyway. To me, Indian summer represents Summer’s final hurrah, the last weeks of September when fruit gets almost too sweet and the first hints of fall produce begin to appear. Indian summer is your last chance to take advantage of the bounties of summertime before you are reduced to canned tomatoes, frozen berries and distant memories of stone fruit and peppers.

Already we have seen the appearance of pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, grapes, artichokes, pears and pomegranates. More exotic fruits like Asian pears and Chinese dates (jujubees) can also be found. But personally I cannot yet bring myself to buy these items. I am still hungry for melons, eggplants and, of course, summer tomatoes. Alas, soon these beauties will be gone.

This week’s purchases:

  • Red beets (Chue’s)
  • Rosemary (Chue’s)
  • Chinese broccoli (Chue’s)
  • Summerset peaches (Frog Hollow)
  • Emerald beaut pluots (Frog Hollow)
  • Warren pears (Frog Hollow)
  • Flavor king pluots (Frog Hollow)
  • Assorted summer squash (Ella Bella Farms)
  • Ancho chilies (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Mediterranean cucumbers (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Assorted eggplants (Balakian Farms)
  • Dry-farmed early girl tomatoes (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Blackberries (Glashoff Farms)

Summer squash is so delicate it is best prepared as a simple saute with leeks, garlic and basil. Buying an assortment of squash (as pictured) makes for a more interesting dish and colorful presentation. Squash is delicious with parsley, thyme, cilantro and marjoram as well, if basil doesn’t strike your fancy.

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat until it swirls easily. Add both the leeks and squash to the pan and stir to cover in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. After two or three minutes add minced garlic and herbs. Continue to saute until squash is brightly colored and tender, but not dull and mushy. Throw in a handful of spinach when you add the herbs for extra greens. Cook some hot peppers in the oil before adding the vegetables to add extra spice and flavor.

This dish is a fantastic accompaniment to eggs, brown rice and beans, fish or chicken. Garnish with slices of early girl tomatoes for an ideal Indian summer meal.

An extended version of this article is available at Synapse.

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4 Responses to “Farmers’ Market Update: Indian Summer”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, my mouth actually watered at the sight of your sauted squash!!!

  2. Jed Wolpaw says:

    You know I’ve never liked melons much. Watermelon is okay, but honeydew and all those other kinds of melons that everyone always puts in fruit salads have just never tickled my fancy. Is there something wrong with me or am I just not a melon guy? How different are melons from each other? Do I need to try more varieties or is it pretty straight forward, that once you’ve tried one or two you’ve tried them all?

  3. Darya Pino says:

    Jed:I whole-heartedly agree that the melons found in your standard fruit salad are nothing to write articles about. Those bland orbs tend to miss the mark in both flavor and texture. They also have the unfortunate characteristic of absorbing flavors arounds them, so if that tupperware used to hold sauteed onions and garlic, there’s a good chance your melons know it.What is being offered at the local markets right now is of an entirely different variety. Countless sizes, colors and flavors of melons whose smell alone can make you a life-long believer.Still scared of commitment? (Melons can be big and scary afterall). Try one of the small, aromatic Charantais melons. Feeling more daring? Try a Galia.Whether or not you are a “melon guy”, however, is probably best discussed in one of your own columns 😉

  4. Timothy McIntyre says:

    When given the opportunity, I like to blurt out this little fact: on average, September is the warmest month of the year in the Bay Area, so yes, we DO have Indian summer here!

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