When we daydream about summer, we feel the warm sun on our skin, smell the scent of sunscreen, hear ice clinking in a glass, and taste mouthwatering produce. Dream no longer, it’s finally here and there’s no better time of the year to hit your local farmer’s market and stock up fresh, flavorful finds. Here are our easy to cook with market favorites:
Crisp, cool cucumbers are heavenly come summer. Cucumbers grow on a vine that climbs and blossoms in prolonged heat. At your standard supermarket, you’re most familiar with the American slicing cucumber (the waxy one) or the English cucumber (the wrapped one). Both are perfectly suitable for cooking, however we encourage you to branch out to farm stands, ethnic markets, and coops to find more exotic and tasty heirloom varieties like Armenian and lemon cucumbers. They’re generally consumed best raw; peeling or de-seeing is entirely up to the chef’s preference.
Try this: Pesto Tuna Caprese Cucumber Bites
Ah, the humble carrot. A boring suggestion you’re thinking. We say, old dependables are just that—dependable. Carrots grow well in cool weather, making them readily available starting in mid-to-late summer. There’s nothing wrong with the orange standby, but we encourage you to look for purple, yellow, white, and red varieties, which all bring amazing color to dishes. For carrots that still have their greens attached, look for perky leaves with no wilting, black spots or yellowing. The carrot roots should be firm.
Try this: Zen Burgers
Nothing heightens a summer dish quite like sweet, pungent basil. Sure, you can grow it indoors in the colder months but it really thrives when grown outdoors in summer. Yes, you can store chopped basil in ice cube trays of olive oil and yes, you can make divine pesto with it, but we really love using fresh from the stem basil in our dishes. Look for bright leaves with no dark spots or wilting. If needed, you can revive your basil by soaking it in cold water for a few minutes. For those readers who truly consider themselves foodies, try to track down the purple variety; you won’t be disappointed.
Try this: Summer Tomato and Tuna Salad
What says summer more than this exemplar of tropical taste? If you’re looking to go local, you may not find mangoes at your neighborhood farmer’s market. In the US, mango growing is limited to southern Florida, Hawaii, and sparsely in southern California. A standard grocery store is the place to find these. Picking a good mango can be a bit of challenge. The key is to look for leathery smooth skin, not leathery wrinkly skin. Think a nice handbag, not a face that’s seen too much sun. Black spots are ok, this is just oxidation, but make sure the mango smells sweet, not sour, and has no mushy spots.
Try this: Tropical Tuna Lettuce Wraps