The weather is warm, the sky is blue, and the farmers markets have a wide assortment of luscious apricots, peaches, nectarines, and berries.
You'll see bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and summer squash coming soon, if you haven't found them already! Sweet corn and melons will arrive before you know it.
Apricots are the stars in June with their sweet delicate flavor. Poppys, Pattersons and Blenheims take center stage. Pattersons are just plain good eatin' and the delicate sweet Blenheims are perfect for jams. Visit Palomino Farms or J&J Ramos Farms for sweet stone fruit.
Stop by Nunez Farm or Bautista Ranch for squash and peppers.
It's time to cook outside. Summer fruits and vegetables are especially nice on the grill. And peppers, onions, peaches, tomatoes, squash and eggplant are stellar for grilling.
Make your own marinades using market-fresh herbs, garlic, artisan olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Use on produce, poultry, and beef, all without preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Pick up some olive oil and balsamic vinegars from Bistro Blends (try their new mustards) and fresh herbs from FT Fresh.
Delicious and easy gourmet meals with everything cooked on the grill are great. It's easy cleanup and no hot kitchen.
Cut zucchini and pattypan squash in half, brush with olive oil and place right on the grill for a few minutes. For dessert, slice peaches in half, remove pit, brush with melted butter and brown sugar, and add to the grill for a few minutes, and then serve with ice cream.
For the main course, try some salmon from Sea Born Fish Company.
Plank Grilled Soy Salmon
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
¼ cup sake or dry white wine
¼ cup mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons each scallion& fresh ginger (coarsely chopped)
4 salmon fillets or steaks (about 1 inch thick)
Soak a grilling plank in water for 2 to 4 hours. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sake (or white wine), mirin, sugar, scallions and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Place salmon in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Place lemon slices on top. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours, turning the fish once or twice.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Place the soaked plank over direct heat on the grill and heat for 2 minutes. Move the plank so it's over indirect heat. Remove the salmon from the marinade, place it skin-side down (if using fillets) on the hot plank and replace the lemon slices on top. Close the lid and cook until the fish is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Use the plank as the serving platter, if desired.
Enjoy the wonderful flavors of summer fruits and vegetables while you can. Remember to eat in season and eat locally for the best flavor and nutrition.
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 Debra Morris, promotions coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact her at email@example.com.