Is it strange if, as I’m typing this, I’m visualizing a bundle of broccoli, artichokes, zucchini blossoms and chives as a wedding bouquet or dinner party centerpiece?
I’m only half-kidding.
One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, crisp, often newly-picked and oh-so-ready-to-nosh-upon vegetables. Whether they’re served roasted, raw, and anywhere in between, I am one happy girl when it comes to filling my plate with all things flora. (Not Flora, the daffy green fairy in “Sleeping Beauty” – Merriweather was always my favorite, anyway. Way feistier.)
A recent trip to the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market totally inspired my cooking endeavors in the vegetable realm. So many possibilities, so much fresh vegetable goodness, and all locally grown with minimal to no pesticide use. (Or as local as one might consider West Virginia when you live in the DMV.) The Silver Spring market is located right on Ellsworth Drive in Downtown SS, closed off to traffic but easily accessible from Georgia Ave. and the surrounding ‘hood. For more info, check out this site. It runs year-round. Seriously!
First, a shot of some beautiful herbs – the Thai basil looked particular scrumptious, and had a fantastic scent to match. I’d use it in some kind of stir fry, like this one from Food Network featuring shrimp & tomatoes.
Next, a local bakery in Bethesda brought in these gorgeous whole grain loaves of all sorts of varieties. If you’re looking to make your own, I’d HIGHLY recommend checking the recipes in my so-well-loved-that-its-pages-are-covered-in-flour copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzberg & Zoe Francois. To. Die. For. (And so easy! Post pending.) This one was adapted from that book by The Kitchn.
Some lovely fresh cucumbers, ready for quick-pickling, a homemade Tzatziki, or an easy-peasy cucumber salad. (Sliced cukes + ultra-thin carrot slices from a veggie peeler + olive oil, red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of garlic salt & dried or fresh dill.)
Some ah-MAZE-ing looking homegrown garlic, perfect for oven-roasting as a bruschetta spread. This recipe, courtesy of What’s Cooking America, comes with great step-by-step photos for the roasted garlic virgin.
Fresh currants! I’d never even seen these in their freshly-grown form until hitting the farmers market. This brown rice and currant salad from Healthy Seasonal Recipes looks divine, as would the myriad Currant Scone recipes I found through a quick Google search.
Lastly, these zucchini blossoms just made my little Italian heart soar. My maternal grandma (whose family traces its roots to the city of Bari, located on the Boot’s back heel) has a recipe for delicate-but-rich Fried Zucchini Blossoms, and while I have yet to badly attempt to coerce ask her for it, I scrounged up a super-fab substitute from the chefs / wizards at Bon Appetit. (It even uses Pilsner beer in the batter – how can you go wrong?) Remember that when you’re working with zucchini blossoms, take care to remove the stamens (these fuzzy bits in the middle of the flower) before cooking. An easy pinch or snip with your food shears should do the trick.
Here are a few final pics from the market, including some gratuitous flower pictures. Just can’t help myself.
Are you farmers market junkies? If not, where else do you pick up your fresh veggies? What are your favorite recipes for summer’s green offerings?