Yesterday, as I pushed my way through throngs of eager produce-buyers at the Sunday farmers’ market, I marveled at the enormous selection of just-harvested fruits and vegetables. A woman next to me at a farm stand simply stood, staring longingly at the gorgeous array of nectarines and peaches displayed before her. “I’m from Kansas City,” she said, “and I have never seen – or tasted – stone fruit like this before. I wish I could take it all back home with me.” Her comment reminded me how lucky we are to have regular access to this incredible, locally-grown produce.
Here’s five (of my favorite) items you’re likely to find in the farmers’ market right now:
Yep, they’re glorious when eaten straight off the tree, but ripe nectarines are also pretty delicious when wrapped with prosciutto, or baked into a summer pie. You can even chop them up and mix them with cilantro, jalapeno pepper, red onion and lime for a terrific (and colorful) salsa for grilled meats.
Want to have fun with your kids? Shell a big bowl of peas together (don’t keep the shells – they’re not edible). Afterwards, rinse and drain the peas, then boil them in lightly salted simmering water for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas to your favorite salad or pasta – or just toss them in a little butter and savor their delicate, delicious flavors.
Relish blackberries’ short season by baking them into a cobbler or crisp, adding them to a fruit salad, or making a batch of jam (really, it doesn’t take that long). I buy several flats of blackberries in the summer and freeze them – that way, I can enjoy their intense, perfumey flavors in pies and baked goods all through the winter.
My favorite way to enjoy zucchini is to halve them lengthwise, hollow out the center, and pack it with a mixture of toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, fine-diced garlic, olive oil and freshly-chopped parsley. Bake at 350 degrees until the zucchini is tender throughout and the breadcrumb mixture is crusty.
It’s hard to beat the explosion of sweet-tart flavors you experience when biting into a ripe plum. But if you have an abundance of this beautiful stone fruit, try making a simple plum granita or sorbet; baking them into a juicy upside-down cake, or slicing them up and serving them with fresh-baked shortcake and lots of poofy whipped cream.