Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!

by | Aug 14, 2011
Gigantic Tomato

Gigantic Tomato

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.

O'Henry Peaches

O'Henry Peaches

Sea of Strawberries

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

Early Girl Tomatoes

But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

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.

Thai Chilies

Thai Chilies

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.

Eggplant

Eggplant

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.

Corn

Corn

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

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

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.

Rooted Basil

Rooted Basil

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.

Radicchio

Radicchio

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.

Cranberry Shelling Beans

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.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.

Red Flame Grapes

Red Flame Grapes

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find this week at the farmers market?

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9 Responses to “Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!”

  1. Liana says:

    I visited the Reston (VA) Farmers Market yesterday. I picked up some zucchini flowers, which I’ve never had before, but I’m intrigued. I have no idea how to cook them, but I’ll find a way! I also picked up a bunch of lima beans, purple peas (not sure if that’s what they are really called), zucchini, the skinny eggplants (another I have no idea what to do with), heirloom tomatoes, corn and raspberries! Whew. I also picked up some fresh salsa – spicy cilantro, extra spicy and peach salsa.

    This was my first time to a substantial farmers market, so I didn’t even really hit all the different stalls. I’m dragging my husband back next weekend! 🙂

    • Darya Pino says:

      Awesome! You can try removing the long fuzzy thing inside the flowers, cutting off the stem then folding them into an egg scramble or omelet. I also like them stuffed with chevre and herbs then tempura battered and deep fried (that one’s a little less healthy) 😉

  2. Brandon says:

    Am I the only one who, only for a Split second there, looked at that ‘left’ hand in the first photo, and excitedly thought, “Oh my gosh, Kevin and Darya are Engaged, and didn’t say anything to us?”
    I’d to double-take in excitement for a moment there.

    (Haha, sorry for putting you on the spot there Kevin).

    In more “Summer Tomato” related news.
    I remember back when I was a young little thing, thinking my Grandmother was crazy, eating Tomatoes raw, with just a sprinkle of salt in between each bite she took.
    Really Grandmother? Raw Tomatoes?

    But now, not only being older and having a “More Refined Palate” (I say this while twirling my glass of wine, in my most pretentious accent), but also because I’m now eating the Freshly grown tomatoes my Grandmother use to eat.
    Right off the vine.

    And my goodness. I eat at least two a day, if not more.
    I use to Love apples as a kid! And I’d eat them like crazy.
    But now Tomatoes are my “New Apple”.
    I can’t even keep them in the house long enough.

    Except I still differ from my Grandmother in that I don’t add any salt.
    They’re perfect enough as they are, fresh and juicy just off the vine.

    My God do I LOVE Food. 🙂

  3. E. Foley says:

    Boo. We’ve reached the point in the summer where your west coast produce starts to line up with my east coast produce. If I didn’t have a kickass job, I’d move out to SF Bay just for the vegetables. Our farmers market will only be around until early November, so we’re enjoying it while it lasts. Got some really beautiful plums today and a bunch of heirloom tomatoes. Our favorite farmer had his insane variety of hot peppers, too. He even remembered which ones were our favorites from last year. 🙂

  4. em says:

    When you say you eat raw corn, do you mean raw corn? i have never heard of that…

    • Darya Pino says:

      Yep! Good corn is sweet and full of flavor. Cut it off the cob and have a nibble. If you don’t like it (sometimes if it’s not good it will be too starchy), you can always throw it in a pan with olive oil, garlic and other veggies. But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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