Fresh & New: August 21, 2014

After I got back from vacation last week, my fridge contained almost no perishables. My first meal back was cheese, crackers, pickles, and salami -- probably my ultimate no-cook comfort food -- but I couldn't continue on that way for long. Before heading home one day, I went a little crazy shopping at the Farmstand -- melons, peaches, nectarines, arugula for salad -- and didn't stop until my backpack wouldn't zip.


The irony of August, the most deliciously diverse time of year for local food in our region, is that half the city (self included) seems to be out of town for weeks at a time. But nature doesn't take a break, and neither do farmers (not until January, anyway), so the bounty continues. Here are the highlights of the season -- juicy, delicious goodies you should stock up on when you return home from globetrotting and your cupboards are bare.    



We're bursting with a huge variety of tomatoes from Taproot Farm and Oasis at Bird-in-Hand Cooperative. In cherry tomatoes, look for red, rainbow, and Sun Sugar varieties, plus Taproot's perfect, plum-shaped Juliet Saladettes and maroon-to-dark-brown Sunchocola, which tastes like chocolate and cola (!). In large tomatoes, find Heinz paste tomatoes for all your saucing needs, plump red slicing tomatoes for sandwiches, and of course a rainbow of mixed heirloom tomatoes -- Brandywine, Striped German, and Cherokee Purple.


Beechwood's white and yellow nectarines are amazing right now, and this week we've added Three Springs Fruit Farm's "Bounty" variety yellow freestone peaches and their creamy-fleshed, spicy Gingergold apples. I'm making many a no-cook lunch combining stone fruit, heirloom tomatoes, and Cassaday Farms' watermelons, available in Yellow Doll or Sugar Baby varieties. Cut up and combine your fruit and tomatoes, add crumbled Shellbark Sharp chevre or Hidden Hills' Boltonfeta or torn fresh Caputo Brothers mozzarella, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add a dash of salt and pepper and toss. Finish with fresh basil leaves and enjoy!


In foraged food news, one of our wildcrafter friends up in Bucks County, The Bear and the Berry, has wild, hand-picked huckleberries for us this week! This relative of wild blueberries is smaller and darker in color, and each berry contains ten tiny seeds, which makes munching on these berries a pleasantly crunchy experience. Pick up a half pint to throw into a pie with raspberries, blackberries or even Shiro plums.


Vining veggies are still going strong, too -- lots of gold and green zucchini and cukes coming in, plus the first winter squash of the year, with delicata, green kabocha, and spaghetti varieties on the stand. Take this opportunity to play with ingredients that don't always overlap by season, like tomatoes and delicata or a make a pasta-free quick turkey bolognese over spaghetti squash with fresh tomatoes. One of the best ways to get over post-vacation malaise is in the kitchen, and summer's ending soon -- so eat like it's summer while you can!

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