Navigating the Farmers Market..Shop Smart
September is the perfect time to explore your inner locavore (a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.) Your options are plentiful, there are end of summer selections like locally-grown tomatoes, corn, beans, stone fruit, and summer squash. The list is definitely longer than that, but go explore it for yourself. There's still so much to be excited about, the cooler weather brings colorful winter squashes, savory mushrooms, and crisp sweet apples. The magic in shopping at your local market, and investing in locally produce and product is that it's cost effect AND delicious. To truly captialize on this crossing of season keep an eye out for a few specific ingredients:
Tomatoes: There are plenty of beautiful, flavorful heirlooms available. Buy them in large numbers then turn them into jam, sauces, soups, and end of summer salads. That tomato jam will offer you bit of summer when the weather has turned cold and harsh.
Peaches: This sweet, fragrant fruit is only available for a few more weeks. Gather what you can and get them canned and preserved. They are another fruit that offers a variety of preparations that can help you shake the duldrums of winter. Try a chutney, jam, jelly, or slice and freeze them.
Eggplant: Eggplant offers a tender, complex, flavorful addition to a dish or meal. Choose a few from each variety and explore there versatility. There is so much more to eggplant than eggplant parmesan (check out the recipe at the end).
Raspberries: A delightful pairing for peaches, these tart gems can go sweet or savory. Raspberries are ideal for jams and preserves, as well as, a good candidate for freezing. The best freezing method is to spread the berries on a sheet tray, pop them in the freezer, once they are frozen, bag them up they will freeze for up to a year. Fresh berries are a short lived pleasure, so to prolong the love, remove moldy or over ripe berries from the bunch, refrigerate them, and only wash them right before eating.
This eggplant recipe for Epicurious is a great way to show off your skills with local/seasonal ingredients and also gives you a bit of "end of grilling season" options.
Makes 4 (main course)
- 1 (6 1/2-ounces) jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 (3/4-pound) eggplant
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 (1-pound) round loaf Italian bread, 8 (1/3-inch-thick) slices cut from middle
- 1/4 pound Fontina (preferably Italian), thinly sliced
Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat; see grilling procedure .
Pulse artichokes, mayonnaise, capers, and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
Trim off a thin slice from 2 opposite long sides of eggplant, then cut eggplant lengthwise into 4 (1/3-inch-thick) slices. Brush both sides of slices with 2 tablespoons oil (total) and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Grill eggplant slices, covered, turning once and brushing grilled sides with 1 tablespoon oil (total), until golden-brown and tender, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a tray.
Brush both sides of bread with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and grill, covered, without turning, until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes.
Top each of 4 bread slices, grilled sides up, with cheese and an eggplant slice. Spread artichoke mixture on remaining 4 bread slices, grilled sides up, then assemble sandwiches.
Put sandwiches on grill and press down with a metal spatula, then grill, turning once, until heated through and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes total.
Cooks' note: Eggplant and sandwich can be grilled in a hot oiled 2-burner grill pan over medium-high heat 4 minutes.
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For more recipes or a seasonality map visit www.cookoften.com