Summer is in full effect, and if you’re like us, you don’t want to go near that stove. Here’s how to make the farmers’ market do all the work.
The farmers’ market is in full, glorious swing right now. Where I live, tomatoes of every color and dimension sprawl as far as the eye can see, eggplants glow royal purple in the sun, and summer squash are plentiful. Just remember: When food is this fresh and juicy, you can often get away with not cooking it. Here are some starter ideas.
Sugar Snap Peas
Keep it simple and place these guys around the house, in their shells, clean, for folks to snack on. Nothing’s tastier as a healthy snack. (Pro tip: Keep a little bowl out for the stringy bits.)
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and their brethren come into and out of season all summer long, depending on where you live. Toss fresh berries into yogurt parfaits, into salads with goat cheese and delicate greens, and eat them by the palmful.
Peaches, Nectarines, and Apricots
Yes, these are fantastic grilled and turned into crisps, but perfect peaches are also just the thing to eat on a dock lakeside, at the ocean, or even leaning over the kitchen sink. Along with nectarines and apricots, they’re excellent with ricotta, a drizzle of honey, and a crack of pepper.
Cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew season is either already well underway or just around the bend, so bring a friend to the market to help you cart a couple home.
Are you eating enough tomatoes? Pick those that smell sweet and tasty. Transform them into gazpacho, salt them for salads, make fresh tomato summer pasta, and layer them with mozzarella and basil—and maybe peaches and olive oil—for marvelous caprese salads.
Still baking? Cut yourself a break. Along with canned white beans, good market bread like baguettes are smart starchy summer go-tos. Slice them thin for salads and sandwiches, bring them to outdoor events, and blitz them into bread crumbs if they go stale.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
Yes, you can grill, sauté, or cook the stuff, but super-fresh sweet corn is fabulous raw. I like to slice off the kernels and layer them with chopped peaches, basil, tomatoes, a splash each of sherry and red wine vinegars, salt, pepper, and good olive oil for a beautiful summer salad.
If your market has a good fishmonger, this is where you want to buy whatever he or she recommends for ceviche or crudo. If you’ve never made your own, they’re a dream—and so simple. Ask about what’s fresh, tell them you’ll be eating it raw, and look for scallops, porgy, salmon, and anything else you think would be delicious uncooked (for crudo) or “cooked” in citric acid (ceviche). My fishmonger recommended the porgy, which was a great price, and I made a peach-porgy ceviche I loved. Here’s the recipe; stay cool out there.
Serves 2-4 as an appetizer
- 1 (6-ounce) fillet fresh, not-oily fish, such as porgy or red snapper, skin and bones removed, diced small
- 4 ounces fresh lime juice, or enough to cover fish
- 1 whole ripe peach, diced
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Thyme (optional)
1. Place fish in a small bowl and cover with lime juice. Place in refrigerator, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the fish looks opaque and “cooked.” Remove and drain off excess lime juice. Add peaches and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Plate ceviche and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil. Garnish with thyme, if desired. Serve immediately.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alexvanburen.