The Fourth of July is the perfect time to get out the grill and cook up some fresh fruits and veggies. Or pack a picnic basket with fresh salads, sides and desserts and head to the park for a fireworks show or summer concert.

You can't find better produce for your recipes than at your local farmers market.

It's peak season for most summer fruits and vegetables, and you'll find a wider assortment of produce varieties than you would at the supermarket.

Try honey diva nectarines, sweet dream peaches, or Catalina plums from Cipponeri Farms.

Or pick the perfect pepper from Bautista Ranch. They have everything from sweet bell peppers and banana peppers to jalapenos and the hottest habaneros!

Snap peas, green beans, chard, lettuce, spinach and kale from Nunez Organic Farm make great salads.

Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries make super summer desserts and you'll find them at Vasquez Farms and Medina Berry Farms.

And let's not forget the superstars of the season -- big luscious tomatoes from Resendiz Farms, and sweet Brentwood corn from G&S Farms will be great on the grill.

Add some liquid libations to your basket and you have the perfect picnic!

So head for the park or the hills or the beach. Watch some fireworks, take a swim, or just laze on a blanket in the grass.

Farmers market notes:

  • The market will be closed on the Fourth of July.

  • And the Mayor's Cook-off returns to the farmers market for another season on Thursday, July 18, at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord.

    Come cheer on your favorite mayors and local restaurants from cities around the county and enjoy some wonderful food.

    Here's an old favorite recipe we hope puts you in the Independence Day spirit!

    Red White and Blue Potato Salad

    1 cup chopped green onions, divided

    1 cup sour cream

    1/2 cup light mayonnaise

    1/4 cup white wine vinegar

    4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    2 teaspoons sugar

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1 pound unpeeled small or baby red-skinned potatoes

    1 pound small purple or blue potatoes, peeled

    1 pound unpeeled small white potatoes

    2 cups cooked fresh peas

    1-1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese, about 6 ounces

    Paprika

    To make the dressing, whisk 1/2 cup green onions and next 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and chill. Place all potatoes in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil until tender, 10 to 15 minutes (time will vary depending on size and variety of potatoes). Drain and cool to room temperature.

    Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place in large bowl. Add dressing, peas, and blue cheese; toss gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Sprinkle potato salad with paprika and remaining 1/2 cup green onions. Makes about 8 cups.

    Farmers markets are open rain or shine.

  • The Walnut Creek Farmers Market is from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays year round on North Locust Stereet downtown between Giamona and Lacassie. 925-431-8361, www.cccfm.org.

  • The Diablo Valley Farmers Market is open year-round Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Shadelands Business Park at N. Wiget Lane and Mitchell Drive.

  • Rossmoor farmers Market, Fridays 9:30 a.m. to noon through Oct. 28 at the Gateway Clubhouse parking lot on the corner of Golden Rain Road and Tice Creek Drive.

  • Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Farmers' Market -- Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, 1425 South Main St., Walnut Creek.

    The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Debra Morris, promotions coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact her at debramorris@pcfma.com.

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