Farmer's Market Feasts


Visit the farmers market for good, fresh food and connection to the land.

By Irena Chalmers

 

A handwritten sign tacked to a tree in the country announces "corn, tomatoes, strawberries, peaches," and the driver's foot eases off the pedal.

In the city, green markets are places where friends run into friends and where urban dwellers connect to the bounty of the land.

Country or city, these markets display fresh-baked bread and handmade preserves next to goat, cheddar and cottage cheeses, which are alongside corn, radishes, potatoes, zucchini and eggplant. There are numerous varieties of mushrooms, apples and crisp, green lettuces; trays of sprouts and robust kale and chard.

Some markets sell fresh eggs, others offer smoky bacon and sausages. We always buy too much. Temptation always overcomes reason. Thank heavens.

  • Grill fresh vegetables or roast them in the oven. They can be eaten cold or at room temperature for a day or two after cooking.
  • Cook eggplant, squash, onions, and tomatoes into vegetable stews. These are delicious hot or chilled the next day as a side dish, spooned on grilled bread or used to top sandwiches.
  • Lightly cook tomatoes, garlic, and herbs in olive oil and then toss with pasta. Ditto for summer squash, mushrooms, corn, and young greens such as chard and mustard greens.
  • Make cheese, mushroom and tomato omelets. Scatter scallions, mushrooms, squash and fresh herbs over eggs for frittatas and delicious scrambled eggs.
  • Vegetable chowders, soups and stews freeze beautifully. Fresh tomato sauce can be ladled into serving-sized plastic freezer bags for later use. Slice or chop whole tomatoes and freeze them for use all winter in cooking.
  • Toss generous handfuls of fresh herbs into salads, soups, and pasta dishes. Don't hold back! Dry leftover herbs by hanging them in bunches or laying them on a rack. Store them in plastic bags or small containers-better than storebought!
  • Indulge in fresh berries, peaches, plums, and apricots scattered over ice cream, angel food cake or vanilla yogurt. Make homemade fruit ice cream.
  • Bake simple crisps and crumbles, deep-dish pies and fruit tarts with peaches, nectarines, plums, blackberries, and raspberries.
  • Homemade applesauce, poached peaches, and strawberry or raspberry sauce freeze well.

Farmers markets renew and refresh. There are few things that give greater pleasure than shopping at the market, carrying our heavy bounty home and transforming it into a beautiful lunch or dinner for friends who will spend the rest of the afternoon with their elbows on the table, blissfully satisfied.