Wednesday, July 30, 2008
To Market, to Market
Since I've really started making an effort to visit the greenmarket, I've found it easier to stay abreast of what's in season. The supermarket has everything all of the time, so it's difficult to tell unless you go where the farmers are. So far I've done a pretty good job of making it out to the market every other weekend, and boy does the landscape change from one week to the other. While two weekends ago I found a market rich in greens and radishes, this week I found one reflective of what's in season during the middle and end of summer.
Although I'm a foodie, I generally don't consider myself a food snob--high or low brow, if it's good, I'll eat it. I am, however, exceptionally picky when it comes to tomatoes. Very rarely am I satisfied with the ones I find in the supermarket, especially out of season. Those huge beefsteak tomatoes have no flavor, are always mealy, and just seem unnaturally large. I've often found solace in organic vine ripened tomatoes, but they're just not the same out of season. That's why I was so happy to walk through the market last weekend among tables and tables of heirloom tomatoes. I jumped at the chance to buy a few small heirlooms (first picture) along with fresh basil for a delicious caprese salad. Before leaving, I was lucky enough to find a stand with perfect green tomatoes. I haven't had fried green tomatoes in years, so I purchased two big ones to use for an appetizer dish.
Another big difference was the presence of peppers. They've clearly come into season in more ways than one. Forget about crunchy, sweet bell peppers, and consider for a minute all you could do with the variety of chiles available. From your basic jalapeño to serranos and habaneros, every chile under the sun seems to be available by the bushel. Now's the time to make your salsas and chutneys, not to mention delicious green salsa fresca, since tomatillos are in season now, too. I bought some lovely deep green pasillas (which are hot but not scorching) and plan on using them to make a roasted pepper salsa.
I also bought some regular bell peppers to make one of my favorite sandwiches.I still remember when I was a kid, my mom would fry up some green bell peppers (or sometimes they were spicy cubanelles) and serve them on a crunchy piece of baguette dipped in the pepper's juices. We'd serve them with home fries or even french fries, just like the pubs in Spain. I also made an impulse purchase and bought a chile pepper plant. Now, as many people reading this (my office mates included) may know, I have a pretty serious black thumb. I've managed to kill every plant that has come into my possession, the most recent of which was a brutally murdered tomato plant I had decomposing on my desk for months (my thanks to co-worker Lauren for disposing of the remains). But, since I'm always running out to buy jalapeños, I've convinced myself that if I have to rely on this plant for food, there's a good chance it may survive. In the meantime, I hope it enjoys it's time on my living room windowsill overlooking the traffic on 10th Avenue. If this one makes it, I know I'll finally be ready for that cilantro plant.
There is also the occasional ingredient that I have to keep myself from buying because I simply will not eat it. For example, the above pictured carrots were absolutely lovely. They were making their first appearance at the market and I was sure I could experiment with them and their beautiful rainbow colors. While the idea of roasting all those beautifully colored carrots was super appealing, I knew that I would never want to eat them. I don't really care for carrots on their own, I don't love carrot soup, and I have no plans to bake a carrot cake. So, I convinced myself to leave them be, which is more than I can usually do to keep from overbuying at the greenmarket. So that's what is out there now. Get on out to your local greenmarket, support your local farmers, and and buy fresh ingredients. If you do, you'll have less to do in the kitchen, since quality ingredients do most of the work for you.