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.
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.
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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.
Chopped tomatoes tossed with the same lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, on top of a grilled crostini with melted mozzarella.
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!