Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to Market...

Last Sunday, I woke up at an earlier hour than usually warranted on the laziest day of the week, and headed a few towns down to graze along the fresh local offerings of a farmers market. Believe it or not, I had never shopped at one before and was especially looking forward to checking out all that was in store.

Summer to fall, there are quite a few farmers markets spread across Long Island. At least once a week, residents get the chance to have their pick of the freshest offerings around as vacant parking lots are transformed into an open-air display of locally grown produce and homemade goods. Many of these markets happen to conveniently situate themselves only a short drive from where I live.

                                       
       


Live on Long Island too? Find a Farmers Market near you: http://www.lifb.com/.

Set up beside a train trestle and a main highway, the farmers market consisted of a modest row of tents filled with anxious patrons squeezing fruit and reaching across crates of brightly colored vegetables. The crowd was an eclectic bunch, among which were mothers with their children, couples walking their dogs, grandmas searching for their Sunday dinner’s best, the freak-flag-waver wheeling around her squawking parrot in a bird stroller, and probably chefs.

Besides the local farm-raised produce stands, this particular famers market also had fish, cheese, garlic, pickle, cupcake, jam, and Italian specialty purveyors. I left with a nice chunk of gouda, a fresh ball of mozzarella, corn, a few Italian baby eggplants, two homemade jams that are perfect for this weekend’s upcoming tea party, a box of cupcakes, and of course, heirloom tomatoes. If you put me in a farmers market at the end of August, you can rest assured that I’m going for the heirlooms; you’ve got to get them while you still can.


Heirlooms and tomatoes in general, are truly exclusive to summer. The genetically-modified, tasteless, pesticide-ridden tomatoes you see in grocery stores year-round are barely tomatoes at all. There are many, chefs in particular, that actually refuse to eat or serve tomatoes out of season fresh for this very reason. I’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes as a late, trying to preserve the height of their freshness in my memory until next summer.

First way:
Sliced tomatoes layered Napoleon-style with mozzarella, and topped it with a simple vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, the juice and zest of one lemon, chopped basil, salt and pepper.
Second way:
 Chopped tomatoes tossed with the same lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, on top of a grilled crostini with melted mozzarella.
When you have such fresh ingredients, it is best to let them shine. Using the mozzarella that I bought at the famers market, I prepared my beautiful purple, red, orange, and green tomatoes in a simple Caprese salad, two ways. Mozzarella, tomato, and basil are the only three elements that define Caprese. It is nothing fancy but everything good. Using the best of what’s available for each of its parts constitutes the epitome of simply delicious.

P.S. Gwen, over at the blog Simply Healthy Family, tried out the recipe for tahini cookies recently featured on Cook’s Book with a few better-for-you modifications. Check out her healthy spin on them!

13 comments:

Pacheco Patty said...

I can't think of a better way to spend a morning or afternoon than a farmers market,just the best kind of treasure hunt! I love your caprese salad all stacked up to show off each ingredient in the most beautiful and appealing way, makes me long for fresh summer tomatoes:-)

Jason Phelps said...

I just hit the market today at lunch and bought a tasty looking bunch of radishes. Awesome snack!

Jason

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Beautiful stack salad! I love all the varieties of tomatoes you can find at the market.

Evan @swEEts said...

wow! I wish we had farmers markets like that..what a lovely way to spend a weekend day.. my roommate in college actually has a farm on long island!

Koci said...

How pretty! I love heirloom tomatoes, but have a bit of trouble finding them. More than once, I've tried to find this farmer's market here in Houston, but I just end up driving in circles. My family and I joke that it's just an urban legend--the elusive Houston farmer's market. :D

Foodessa said...

Marisa...one of my very favourite ways to spend a lingering morning with Hubby is exactly at a market like this one ;o) Beautiful captures of simple moments. This tomamto stack looks devine.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Nothing better than a day at a good farmers market. Love the layered dish, great presentation!

Rick said...

That looks like a tower of goodness!

Adelina said...

I should be visiting my farmer's market more regularly. Between the kids' ballet classes and family gatherings, have not found time on my weekends. Your creations look lovely!

Claudia said...

Love caprese - all ways in every way - yours look scrumptious. Lived on Long island once upon a time - still love it.

~Lisa~ said...

I love farmers markets! And your tomato dishes look outstanding.

Prairie Story said...

The stacking way is BEAUTIFUL!! Especially with such vibrant colors!

Karen said...

Beautiful photos! The tomato dishes look delicious.