Summertime and the livin' is easy, as they say. Take it easy with a stroll through the farmers market and enjoy a visit with your farmers, your neighbors, and your friends.
Listen to great music and pick out some fabulous summer produce to toss on the grill for all your summer gatherings.
July is summer vegetable time. Mounds of colorful bell peppers and hot peppers from Bautista Ranch, piles of big fat eggplant from Chou Yang Farms, stacks of luscious tomatoes from Resendiz Farms, and heaps of summer squash from Garcia Farms are now available.
Lest we forget, year-round veggies are here as well. Basics like potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and more are always here to enjoy. Lettuce is especially nice right now, so add some Romaine or red leaf lettuce to your cool summertime salads.
Bell peppers are one of those versatile vegetables that we don't think much about, but they're sweet and crunchy this time of year. Think about adding strips of colorful pepper to your veggie sautes or fajitas, chop into leafy green salads or cool potato salads, or cut in chunks and just add your favorite dip for a healthy nosh.
Summer squash is awesome right now. There are zucchini, yellow squash, globe squash, pattypan squash, baby squash and more.
Squash is full of flavor when grilled. Just cut in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for a few minutes -- delicious! Try some squash blossoms,
And there's that glorious summertime treat -- sweet corn! G&S Farms brings white and yellow corn for grilling and for making corn relish, cornbread, corn salad -- you get the idea.
Corn is one of those vegetables that everyone likes, no matter how it's prepared. Grilled, then topped with a little butter, salt and pepper is one favorite.
But with corn only lasting a short few months, think about ways to keep it once the growing season is over to enjoy in winter. Remove from the cob and freeze, or make some corn relish. And remember that corn, once picked, starts losing its sweetness, so prepare and eat as soon as possible.
Fresh Confetti Corn Salad
2 cups fresh sweet corn, removed from cob, quickly cooked to retain crispness
½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup yellow pear tomatoes, cut in half
1 small can sliced black olives
½ red onion, diced
2 green onions, chopped
Vinaigrette or Italian dressing of your choice
Toss all ingredients together and chill. Great as a side salad next to grilled chicken or meat, or as a light main course with crisp baguette toasts. (Add a cup of chopped cooked chicken for a heartier main course.)
-- Recipe: Debra Morris, PCFMA
So there you have it. It doesn't get any better than this -- glorious summertime veggies at their peak of freshness and tastiness.
Take full advantage of them while you can. Enjoy now because it's summer time and the livin' is delicious!
Farmers markets are open rain or shine.
Visit www.pcfma.com or call 800-949-FARM (800-949-3276).
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.