The heat of August is upon us and that means it's too hot to cook.
A cool summer picnic under a shade tree or a barbecue with friends outdoors sounds inviting on a warm evening.
That hot kitchen can be avoided altogether when you put together a delicious fresh cool summer salad made with fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market.
This August, pick up some wonderful melons, juicy peaches, sweet corn, plump tomatoes and all the other fruits and veggies hitting the summer market.
Summer fruit is especially good right now. Luscious melons like casaba, Crenshaw, cantaloupe, honeydew, Sharyn and watermelon are available from Cipponeri Farms, Halog Farms, and Bautista Ranch.
Plump strawberries can be had at Chanchio's Strawberry Patch, Medina Berry Farms and Vasquez Farms. And juicy peaches, nectarines and pluots make a colorful showing at Diaz Farms and Resendiz Farms.
An ice-cold wedge of watermelon is the quintessential summertime edible. Along with the fabulous flavor of a watermelon you get the added benefits of lycopene (more than a tomato!), vitamins A and C, and a good amount of potassium.
Other varieties of melon are equally tasty and nutritious. Chilled cubed melons make a great salad tossed with a little feta cheese and some sliced red onion.
Thinly sliced prosciutto wrapped around some cantaloupe or honeydew wedges make for a cool side dish.
And a slab of most any melon variety can
Berries of all kinds make appealing desserts and salads as well.
A mixed berry salad lightly tossed with a bit of balsamic vinegar or a triple berry parfait make for really good eatin' when it's hot outside.
Mix berries with some delectable peaches and nectarines and you have an appetizing combination of flavor and nutrition.
Don't forget that fruit goes well with spinach and other greens for a fruity green salad.
Along with your fantastic homemade fruit salads, pick out some delicious already-prepared hot gourmet foods available to take home for quick and easy meals.
Try grilled pork and beef plates from Meyer's BBQ, pizza from Coppertop Pizza, baked potatoes and corn from Julie's, Filipino food from House of Lumpia, and scrumptious fat sandwiches from Wellness Bakery.
Complete summer meals are at your fingertips at the farmers market -- everything you could want is here so you won't have to cook this month.
Just add family and friends and enjoy the last (and the best) of the summer.
This chilled melon salad is a lovely light main course or as an accompaniment to a turkey sandwich or a grilled chicken breast or fish. Enjoy!
Farmers markets are open rain or shine.
The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Vince Scalise, market operations manager, and Debra Morris, promotions coordinator, for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.