The Palatable Pantry: Going to the Farmer’s Market
By Sydney Karp Poll, a local holistic health coach, chef and friend of Care for Real
Going to the Farmer’s Market is a treasured summer activity. Every time you go, you’ll find a different selection of produce since the main reason for visiting a market is to get freshly-picked fruits and vegetables.
Shopping with an open mind is key. Even if you can’t buy what you planned for, you will always find something different and delicious that didn’t sit for days in a warehouse or on a truck.
Due to Covid-19, you won’t be able to taste the produce. Instead, talk to the farmers about what you like and ask them to help you pick the perfect fruit or vegetable. For example, tell them if you like sour berries or if you like your berries very juice and sweet. They can guide you to the varietal that you’ll enjoy most.
During the winter, I plan my family’s meals based on recipes I like, but during the summer I let the selection available at the Farmer’s Market guide my meal planning. I get excited by all of the vibrant colors, smells and flavors. You may, too!
Let’s say you see some beautiful summer tomatoes and you just don’t know what to do with them. The obvious answer is to slice them and serve them with olive oil, basil, balsamic vinegar and mozzarella cheese – instant Caprese. But ask the farmer for recommendations, reach out to me, or look on the internet for creative ideas.
Below are some of my all-time favorite summer recipes with ingredients that you can find at your Farmer’s Market now.
Cucumbers are at the top of my list. Besides the obvious of making pickles, you can quickly make a tasty cucumber salad with ingredients that you might already have at home.
Smashed Cucumber Salad
You can use big or small cucumbers. I prefer the English or Persian ones as they have less seeds and aren’t as watery.
1 English cucumber or 3 small seedless cucumbers
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or any vinegar you have at home
1 tbsp. of something spicy – can be sriracha, Korean chili flakes or hot chili oil
Sprinkle of salt
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
Tiny pinch of cane sugar
1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the washed cucumber on a cutting board and place a large, heavy-bladed flat knife on top. Put your hand on top of the flat part of the knife and push down until the cucumber splits open. If the cucumber is longer, cut into smaller pieces before smashing. You’ll be surprised how much fun this is!
- Chop the cucumber into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl with salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients to make a spicy sauce.
- Drain the water from the cucumbers and make sure they are as dry as possible.
- Mix the cucumbers and spicy sauce, [lace them in a serving bowl and top with black pepper. Enjoy with chopsticks or a fork.
Watermelon Feta Salad
This is a great summer favorite. Watermelon is a classic, and you can find fresh feta and small-batch cheeses at many farmer’s markets. You can really taste the difference.
½ watermelon cut into cubes
About 2 cups of cubed cucumber (ideally pickling cucumbers or Persian)
½ cup feta (ideally the kind that comes in the brine)
2 tbsp. lime juice
½ tbsp. honey
½ tbsp olive oil
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Start by making the dressing for the salad. Whisk together the honey, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. While whisking, pour in the olive oil so that it emulsifies completely. Or place ingredients in a screw-top and shake to mix. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning to your liking, I like my dressing on the more acidic side.
- Put your watermelon, and cucumbers in your serving bowl and gently tear or roughly chop the herbs and add on top of the fruit. Toss in the dressing.
- Sprinkle the top of the salad with Feta and serve.
Baked Cod with Fresh Tomatoes
You can use pretty much any type of fish for this recipe; I happen to like the mildness of cod and how it absorbs the flavor from the tomatoes.
4 cod filets
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes or ones you can find from the Farmer’s Market. Mighty Vine are a great alternative if you are buying at the store. Dice tomatoes if using larger varieties.
5 garlic cloves, smashed
4 tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil
1 lemon sliced
1 tbsp. butter
Handful of herbs, parsley, basil, or chives
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Put some of the oil on the back of a paper towel and wipe the surface of the baking dish to grease it.
- Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Wash and cut half of the tomatoes, you can leave the other half whole to get a different texture. Mix the tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic and a bit more salt and pepper. Put the fish in the baking dish and surround the fish with the tomato mixture.
- Spread out the lemon slices
- Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until it becomes flaky to a fork’s touch.
- Plate the fish and top with freshly chopped herbs and some of the tomato mixture.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and what time you can spend outside this summer!