I love Farmers Markets. Whether your local market is vast or small, it will hold special treats that say a lot about your community.
A Farmers Market has a living and breathing energy that can’t be denied. Locally-owned and operated businesses fill their spaces with vegetables, fruits, jams, breads and pies that they had a hand in growing. It is a wonderful way to support your locals while getting the freshest ingredients you can buy. It’s also a place to bring your neighbors, kids, friends and family, all in the spirit of using and supporting fresh, local products.
There are a few things you may not realize when you shop at a Farmers Market. First, the fruits and vegetables you buy should be the tastiest available. They didn’t sit in storage. There was no long-distance shipping and no gassing to stimulate ripening. They are allowed to ripen in the fields and brought directly to you.
Second, knowing from where your food comes is a luxury many of us rarely get to enjoy. Conversations with your local farmers and artisans provide insight into where and how your food is produced.
And last, the connection to your community brings an appreciation that we are all here to play a role. Let’s support each other and make wonderful meals in the process!
Farmers Markets are a creative home-cook’s dream. There’s nothing like making a truly seasonal meal that is planned as you walk the market. I encourage you to visit your local market with an open mind and plan the meal as you go. Talk to the ones selling the products and get recipes and cooking ideas. They usually know best, especially if your market has a local butcher with cuts of meat.
The recipes I will share with you today have been on my Seattle menus every summer in one way, shape or form for years. Transforming fresh fruits and vegetables to accompany the rest of your ingredients can be as simple as you want to make it.
These recipes use other ingredients to elevate the freshness of the produce. It is important to consider the flavor and texture profiles of your fresh produce. For example, having sweet cherries as the “star” of the recipe may warrant the use of vinegar, salty pancetta and fresh herbs to create balance.
The Pancetta Vinaigrette w/Summer Cherries recipe pairs brilliantly with most proteins. I have served it with everything from jumbo scallops to a tomahawk pork chop.
Use this summer season to connect with your community. Get out and talk to your local farmers and support all the work they do to keep us fed. As a by-product, you will create great meals for your family!
Happy creating and eating! Reach out to me with questions. Instagram @tableside_chef
To get these recipes, click below.
Brett Gardner Howell grew up in Knoxville and now lives in Seattle with his wife and two children. He has been an executive chef for the better part of his career and continues to work in culinary arts across the country.