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.
Blueberries in various sizes begging to be cobbled.
Ripe baby eggplants perfect for a fresh summer salad (recipe follows below).
Fresh-off-the-vine green beans and broad beans for next to free.
Plump beets, not a particular favorite of mine but damn good when roasted or pickled.
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:
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.
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.
PAULIE’S SPARK NOTES:1.PREP YOUR VEGGIES 2.GRILL 3.ADD SOME BASIL, PINE NUTS & MOZZ 4.TOSS AND SERVE WITH TOASTED BREAD