@TheFarmersMarket – June 2013

The southern air is transitioning into a humid hellscape, reaching record-high temperatures of “This is the end” and “I’m taking off my pants” degrees Fahrenheit, but the Raleigh State Farmers Market is making the most of the devilish rays.

Every lot is filled to brim with all of the summers biggest hits, including some new and unexpected items as well as the Carolina classics:

Yellow and white peaches, juicier than a pair of cycling shorts after a 60m ride.

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Blueberries in various sizes begging to be cobbled.

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Ripe baby eggplants perfect for a fresh summer salad (recipe follows below).

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Fresh-off-the-vine green beans and broad beans for next to free.

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Plump beets, not a particular favorite of mine but damn good when roasted or pickled.

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The tomatoes are big, firm and ready to grab – you know what I’m talking about. A few heirloom varieties popped up as well this month, a new feature at the market.

Each stand and truck bed becomes a source of inspiration when the colors, shapes and aromas erupt during the summer market. My finds led to a grilled summer salad full of the day’s MVP’s:

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Grilled Summer Salad
serves 2 as main, 4 as side

2 Large Ripe Tomatoes

2 Baby Eggplants

1lb String Beans

1 Handful Basil, chopped

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted

1 Cup Bocconcini Mozzarella

Salt, Pepper, EV Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Chile Flakes or Vesta

Start by prepping your veg. Slice your eggplant into 1/2 discs. Toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and coarse salt. Trim the ends off your string beans and toss in the same mixture. Dice your tomato into large pieces and add to a large serving bowl.

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Bring your grill or grill-pan up to high heat and grill your eggplant slices first until golden and tender, roughly 3 minutes a side. When golden, slice in half and add to the serving bowl with the tomato.

Next, add the string beans to the grill, being careful not to lose any thru the grates (maybe use a fish tray on gas or coal grill) and flip often to lightly char on all sides. Slice in half and add to the serving bowl.

Tear the basil into large chunks, cut the mozz balls in half and toast your pine nuts lightly before adding everything to the serving bowl. Drizzle the entire mix with E.V. Olive oil, a light drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar, and season with salt, pepper, and chile flakes if you prefer (or better yet, Vesta).

Toss to combine, taste for seasoning, and serve at room temperature with crusty bread and a little extra olive oil for dipping.

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PAULIE’S SPARK NOTES:1.PREP YOUR VEGGIES 2.GRILL 3.ADD SOME BASIL, PINE NUTS & MOZZ 4.TOSS AND SERVE WITH TOASTED BREAD

 

@TheFarmersMarket – January 2013

It’s been another productive, and tasty, year on GiustoGusto thanks to our beloved readers, commenters, contributors and tablet-tapping sharers. Record-high viewers, CookingChannel blog highlights, food competition awards, and a wealth of new friends is more than a food-crazed dude can ask for. From the bottom of my soon-to-be cholesterol stunted heart, Thank You!

Winter has indeed come Mr.Starck, and I for one am only lightly amused. Winter is not my bag, sorry, but atleast it comes with the comforting flavors and aromas of cold-weather dishes. The hearth is alive with the likes of hearty soups, braised meats, roasted roots, and rich decadents to warm the soul as the winds whip. Fortunately for anyone living in or around Raleigh, the Farmer’s Market is overflowing with the seasons best:

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Tough greens like cabbage, swiss chard, kale, and mustard greens.

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Nuts on nuts! Pecans, chestnuts, walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts ready to store in your gullet like a fat DC squirrel.

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Brussel Sprouts, not a personal favorite but edible at least when roasted or fried.

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UFO-sized heads of Broccoli. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

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Salad greens from across the globe like Mizuna, Tatsoi, Arugula, Chicory, and Endive.

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Taters, precious. Sweet Potatoes reign supreme around NC, but there are a few fingerling and purple stands along the market.

And of course, one does not sample Carolina in the winter without a sturdy supply of hand-picked apples. Every variety, every color, every shape, all waiting to be plucked and noshed down to the core.

I began this year looking back, recollecting the sounds, smells, and shared meals with friends and family but it’s impossible to capture it all. No matter how many recipes I collect, photos I take, or articles I publish nothing can replace the time spent at the table or over the stove. So I implore you, if you still lack a new years resolution, choose to build memories in and around the kitchen with friends and family, old and new. Time is relentless and cruel but the good memories make up for all the bad, especially when there’s food and drink involved. 2013 or bust!

@TheFarmersMarket – October 2012

It has not been a cold year. Spring came in February, Summer in March, and Fall has yet to really arrive. The leaves are changing and the mornings are crisp, but 80F in late October is hardly a season change.

Regardless of mother nature’s decision making skills, I for one am stoked over the sustained summer conditions. First off, the ocean has yet to drop below 70F, but the apparent global warming has also allowed our farmers to harvest quality produce well past the typical growing season. Just look at the bounty Megs and I found last weekend, Al Gore would be simultaneously proud and distraught:

It’s pretty nuts to find ripe eggplant, zucchini, peppers and peaches mixed amongst fall’s first apples, squash, broad beans and potatoes. Awesome, but nuts. In any case you should make your way to the nearest farmers market to scavenge what’s left of summer’s harvest. After all, once this global warming thing goes full circle it will be dried potatoes and frozen kale for all. Vegans rejoice! The rest of us, bollocks.

@TheFarmersMarket – June 2012

The weekend’s almost here and if it’s anything like last week it will be A)hot as satan’s personal sauna and B) a great time to hit the farmers market. The Raleigh Farmers Market was crawling like an ant hill with patrons Saturday but luckily the produce was in no short supply. Here’s a sampling (and by sampling I mean roughly 5%) of this month’s lot:

Peaches, nectarines, plums, berries and astro-turf galore.

Sweet Peas, Green Beans, and young Yellow Wax Beans.

The first of the peppers, small and colorful but wait another few weeks for the big guys.

Perfectly ripe beefsteak tomatoes, sadly not many other varieties. Only one farmer selling heirlooms, pull it together guys.

Truckbed after truckbed filled with sweet corn.

Broccoli, cabbage and trip-inducing cauliflower.

Every freaking variety of squash or zucchini known to man (except cucuzza…).

And twisting some OG caps to cool off while hunting for the day’s bests. Dig up your tank top and daisy dukes, grab some cash and hit your local market this weekend to score some tasty veg. If you find anything exciting post it on the GiustoGusto Facebook wall so I can keep an eye out for future noshing.

@TheFarmersMarket – April 2012

Welcome to another new GiustoGusto installment: @TheFarmersMarket. I try to visit the Cary, Raleigh, and Downtown Farmers Markets as often as I can, but I’d like to increase my visits so I thought a monthly post about what’s good and tasty at the market would help. Not only me, but you guys as well so we can all stay up-to-date on what’s seasonal, home-grown and damn tasty.

Saturday was a hurricane season flashback: purple skies, heavy rains and howling winds followed by crystal blue atmosphere and dizzying heat. Standard NC weather really. Unphased, the Raleigh Farmer’s Market was buzzing with life, everyone eager for summer’s first flavors. Here’s a glimpse into April in Cackalacky:

Strawberries everywhere, in baskets, bags, bushels and boxes. There were no wild varieties to be found, something I’m hoping to score one day, but the smaller, deep red options were crazy good.

Hearty greens are a constant, but some young Rainbow and Swiss chard was a welcome change of pace from the stagnant and ubiquitous kale or collards.

Local honey of countless varieties ranging from wildflower to chestnut.

Fields of salad greens including this wild find called Mizuna. I’m a sucker for cool looks, and this seaweed impersonator tastes similar to arugula with the texture of black kale. Not the greatest thing ever, but not too shabby mixed with some local tomatoes and mozzarella.

Pods upon pods of fresh peas.

Forests of asparagus sprung up all over the market: thick, thin, long, short, green, purple, you name it. I don’t remember seeing this much last year, but it’s a great addition to the spring crops. Asparagus, meet grill. Grill, meet asparagus.

Also on the market menu were under-ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes, sweet potatoes, the last of winter’s apples and squash, spring onions, radishes, awkwardly large carrots and an endless amount of plants ranging from rare herbs to full-blown palm trees. Not bad April, not bad. Bump up the heat and let’s get into May for some peaches and moon shades!

 

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