The simple joy of summer’s garden fresh or farmers’ market produce!
While grocery shopping is usually classified as an errand or even a chore, when you do the same thing outside of a closed, fluorescent-lit room, out in the sunshine, amid stalls upon stalls of colorful fragrant fruits and vegetables at peak freshness and flavor, it becomes a pleasure, even a mini-adventure.
As you meander and browse, there is often a surprise element because you never quite know what the farmers will bring with them on this day.
And it is always nice to meet the farmers themselves, who grew the food. It’s a social experience, plus you can ask your questions, or just thank them.
You know where your food came from; that it wasn’t from too far away or even from another country, sitting around for who knows how long, sprayed by who knows how many chemicals before it reached you.
The fullness and ripeness of the fruit can literally be caught in the air; the fruity fragrance is that strong. There are berries galore, and so much more vibrant bounty.
As the farmers hawk their wares, the colorful image alone — so many shapes and tastes alongside each other — feels inviting and motivates one to cook.
Just by looking at the variety of produce your wheels start turning in your head as to what you will prepare. Forget about cookbooks. Farmers’ markets are the best place to stimulate fun and interesting produce combinations that yield delicious salads and meals.
That’s the thing, you can make so much from farmers’ market produce without laboring and cooking all that much, and viola, you have a deeply flavorful meal before you.
Chop this, throw in that herb, squeeze a lime . . . you got yourself a delicious, healthy, farm fresh meal.
It’s that simple.
And beautiful, too.
Sometimes I just look at the white ceramic plate before me, covered with a combination of farmers’ market goodness, and I feel impressed with myself — for not doing much!
These are some combinations I am often fond of throwing together, then layering with goat or feta cheese, some kind of a legume and some herbs.
One of my (along with so many of your, I’m sure) first summer loves, is pairing corn and tomato. After husking the corn and then removing it from its silk a protective layer as beautiful and fragile as gossamer threads, just shaving the corn from the cob and adding sliced juicy tomato-ey tomatoes is all you need. It doesn’t get better than that. A little sprinkling of salt. Then add in some fresh basil, with its faint anise flavor. And you are done.
Or better yet, I find I am deliriously happy at just sinking my teeth into those plain summer corn on the cob kernels, as one by one the little yellow or white swelled kernels pop in my mouth.
So, radishes and cucumbers; honeydew and raspberries; jicama and watermelon; grapefruit and avocado; figs and goat cheese; sweet potatoes and feta; roasted golden beets and shallots; plums, peaches and cherries, stewed and slumped into compote; peaches and blueberries baked into a pie; or pineapple and mint swirled into sorbet.
Layer these combinations with some herbs, a spritz of lime and maybe some arugula. Possibly add in some toasted nuts for crunch. Or anything else that strikes your fancy.
And you’ve got yourself a refreshing summer meal to savor.
And happy sunshine!
Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News