A farmers’ market is a place where farmers sell their products directly to consumers. Ultra-fresh produce, pastured meat and eggs, artisan cheeses, hand-harvested honey and other fresh, small-batch foods are the hallmark of the best farmers’ markets. With farmers’ markets overflowing with the best of the season’s produce—corn on the cob, tomatoes, squash, stone fruit and more, all at the absolute peak of their ripeness—it’s easy to pull together an elegant, satisfying dinner menu that showcases the summer’s bounty.
If you know a bit of what to expect when you get to the farmers’ market, making decisions at each stall is much easier. Learn what grows in your area and talk to the growers about what will be coming to market in upcoming weeks. In the US, find your local farmers’ markets from United States Department of Agriculture
- Markets tend to be less crowded right when they open or just before they close. For the best selection, go to the farmers’ market early in the day. The best goods go first. Popular-but-limited items may even sell out before the day is done. For the best deals, go to the farmers’ market late in the day. Farmers and other vendors often prefer to discount products instead of loading them back up and taking them home.
- Some farmers’ market vendors offer bags, but they tend to be thin and flimsy plastic ones that can break under the pressure of any substantial produce purchase. Make sure everything gets home from the farmers’ market by bringing your own sturdy canvas or nylon bags.
- Although vendors will make change, purchases will go easier and faster if you have small bills with you. Most farmers only take cash at the market.
- If you find a vegetable that’s new to you and want to give it a try, ask the farmer how to prepare it. For the best tips specifically ask how they like to eat it.
Summer Squash Salad with Arugula, Feta and Herbs
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 3 summer squash (medium-sized yellow or green, about 3-4 cups sliced squash)
- 6 ozs arugula leaves (baby, 3-4 handfuls)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, mint and parsley)
- 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
Zest the lemon and place the zest in a bowl or glass measuring cup. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemon to measure 3 tablespoons. Add lemon juice to the zest, then whisk in the olive oil.
Cut off the ends of the squash and cut in half lengthwise; then cut into very thin slices. Layer the sliced squash into a flat dish and pour 2/3 of the dressing over the squash and season with a generous amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Let squash marinate 15-30 minutes.
Wash baby arugula leaves and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Wash herbs of your choice and spin dry or dry with paper towels and coarsely chop them.
Combine arugula and herbs in bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. Add marinated squash slices, toss to combine and taste to see if you want to add more dressing, salt or fresh ground black pepper. Arrange salad on individual salad plates, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese and serve.
Grilled Panzanella Salad
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- One 14 ounce loaf Italian bread
- 1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 medium tomatoes (1-1/2 lbs total), diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large seedless cucumber, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
Heat a grill to medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut bread loaf in half crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into four 1-inch-thick slices, for a total of 8 slices. Brush slices lightly with olive oil. Grill 2 minutes per side; set aside. Lightly brush onion quarters with olive oil. Grill 5 minutes; rotate and grill another 5 minutes. Cut bread slices into 1-inch cubes.
Cut onion quarters into thin slices. Toss bread, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and basil in the reserved dressing. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Green Tomatoes with Red Pepper Aioli
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained
- 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 pounds firm green tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 6 tablespoons canola oil, for sauteing
Combine mayonnaise, red peppers and garlic in a processor or blender. Process until well combined and fairly smooth, scraping down sides of the processor halfway through. Transfer to a small bowl. Refrigerate until serving.
Core tomatoes and cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each and discard. Cut each tomato into three or four 1/4-inch-thick slices and dry on paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.
Combine flour and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow dish. Whisk together cornmeal, Parmesan, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and cayenne in a third shallow dish.
Coat 1/3 of the tomato slices in the seasoned flour, followed by egg, then cornmeal mixture.
Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coated tomato slices and saute for 2 minutes. Carefully turn over the slices and saute an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack and keep warm in the oven.
Repeat, coating 1/3 of the tomato slices with seasoned flour, egg and cornmeal mixture. Add 2 more tablespoons of the oil to skillet and saute as directed above. Repeat with the last batch of tomatoes and oil. Serve tomatoes warm with the aioli on the side.
Grilled Shrimp and Bean Salad
Serve with cornbread, if desired.
- 8 (12-inch) skewers
- 2 pounds peeled, medium-size raw shrimp (21/25 count)
- Basil Vinaigrette, divided (see recipe below)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 6 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
- 1 1/3 cups (5 1/2 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
Soak wooden skewers in water to cover 30 minutes or use metal skewers.
Meanwhile, combine shrimp and 3/4 cup Basil Vinaigrette in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and chill 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
Preheat outdoor grill to 350°F to 400°F (medium-high) heat.
Cook green beans in boiling salted water to cover 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain, pat dry, and place in a large bowl.
Remove shrimp from the marinade, discarding marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers.
Grill shrimp, covered with grill lid, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp from the skewers and toss with green beans, crumbled bacon, Parmesan cheese, roasted almonds and remaining 3/4 cup Basil Vinaigrette.
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 large shallots, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup olive oil
Whisk together basil, balsamic vinegar, shallots, garlic, brown sugar, pepper and salt until blended. Gradually add olive oil, whisking constantly, until blended.
Torta Salata di Zucchine e Cipolle (Zucchini, Onion and Ricotta Pie)
A savory summer pie from Italy’s Piedmont region is made with zucchini and onions, but feel free to substitute with peppers, eggplant, squash—even tomatoes.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 6 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
- 4 eggs, beaten
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic and shallot until golden, 4–6 minutes. Add zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Stir in pecorino, ricotta, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10″ pie plate with butter; coat with bread crumbs. Spread zucchini mixture evenly over the top and bake until golden on the top and slightly puffed, 40–45 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Grilled Chicken and Vegetables
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, stemmed and seeded
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high. Combine oil, basil, marjoram and salt in a small bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture in another small bowl; set aside.
Coat both sides of bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, tomato and onion pieces with olive oil cooking spray. Grill the vegetables, turning once, until soft and lightly charred in spots, about 5 minutes per side for the pepper, 4 minutes per side for the eggplant and zucchini and 3 minutes per side for the tomatoes and onion.
Rub the tablespoon of reserved herb mixture on both sides of the chicken and sprinkle with pepper. Grill the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, transfer the grilled vegetables to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces. Return to the bowl and toss with the vinegar and the remaining herb mixture. Serve the grilled chicken over the vegetables.
Summer Berry Dessert
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 (16-ounce) container organic strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 1 (6-ounce) container organic blackberries
- 1 (6-ounce) container organic blueberries
- 1 (6-ounce) container organic raspberries
Crush mint and sugar in a mortar and pestle until well-blended (or place sugar and mint in a blender or food processor and pulse until well-blended). Place mint-sugar in a large bowl and add strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Gently toss until evenly combined.
Let the fruit sit for an hour. The berries will release some of their juices and soften.
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes, divided
- 1 cup flour, plus more for baking dish
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 lb Italian plums or other firm plums, pitted and cut into eighths
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat the oven to 400°F . Coat an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with cooking spray and dust with flour; set aside.
Whisk the together the 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add 4 tablespoons chilled butter and rub into flour mixture until pea-size pieces form.
Mix together milk, vanilla and egg in a small bowl; add to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Transfer dough to the prepared baking dish and spread over the bottom of the dish; arrange plum slices in rows on top of the dough.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over plums.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle over plums.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
- Veggie Pesto Pasta (funfoodiefamily.com)
- Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad (sharisabe.wordpress.com)
- Salad Night (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Tart (Gluten Free & Vegan) (beardandbonnet.com)