This Week at the Farmers Market: Summer Squash Pizza

If you’ve ever tried growing your own summer squash then you understand how quickly they can multiply and become overwhelming. Even inventive cooks can grow weary of its abundance before the dog days of August, and they are now all over the farmers markets. But with mild flesh and edible skin, yellow squash is easy to use in a variety of ways: cooked or raw, grilled, steamed, sauteed or baked. When picking out your squash at the market avoid spongy, flabby or overgrown ones and choose ones with taut skin, about 8 inches long or less.

This is a perfect way to enjoy veggie “pizza” without a ton of calories. You can make this light, tasty meal in the toaster oven on hot days when you don’t want the added heat in the kitchen. You can also eat it cool, rolled up as a wrap.

Summer Squash Pesto Pizza Roll-Ups

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This Week at the Farmers Market: June Strawberry Salad

I spent Father’s Day weekend with dad at my parent’s country house near the Adirondacks, mowing, weeding, trimming overly eager tree branches, sweeping out the cobwebs, vacuuming the pool, and generally sprucing the place up in anticipation of summer. After our hard work we treated ourselves to a some fresh produce from the neighboring farms… not sure if you’ve heard but strawberry season is in full swing and THANK GOD, because strawberries are one of those fruits, like melons and blueberries (coming soon!!), that are basically bland and tough in the off-season. But holy mother, in June there’s nothing better.

Of course, juicy strawberries are superb on their own, topping off ice cream, boiled down for homemade jam, or baked into a pie. This weekend it was effing hot and I didn’t feel like turning on the oven, plus I wanted to try something a bit more savory to go with our dinner of grilled salmon. The farm stand down the road also sells local cheeses, meats and greens, so we picked up a bag of big, leafy spinach, and a small wheel of goat cheese, wonderfully named “Purple Haze,” and this salad was born.

June Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Fresh Spinach, and Lemon Vinaigrette

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Rhubarb — It’s What’s for Breakfast

Photo: Heather Quintal

If you were anywhere near a farmers market this weekend, no doubt you spotted yourself some rhubarb in all its glory. You can grow rhubarb during the summer but we’ve hit peak season for this leafy plant right now. It’s best known as a pie filling since the red stalks become sweet when baked (like some ex boyfriends I know). But their natural tartness always comes through and they can be used in savory dishes such as on pizza, as a chutney, or in salad with some goat cheese.

Eating pie for breakfast is great the day after Thanksgiving, or after a night of wild sex, say, but for some reason there are other desserts that are much more acceptable as everyday morning meals. God knows why pie didn’t make the cut, but thankfully scones are one of those treats that are A-OK to eat before 11am. And they’re extremely easy to make (not to mention cheap). I adapted this recipe for Rhubarb Vanilla Scones from one of the sexiest food blogs out there, Food52. Make ’em quick, before rhubarb season peaces out… This should give you about 12 scones.

Rhubarb Scones

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

This tender spring veggie is celebrated in festivals across the country this time of year, but even if you can’t attend one of the many super exciting events honoring these green stalks, you can buy some really fresh right now at most farmers markets and have your own party. Asparagus is made up of vitamins E, A, and C, folate for a healthy heart and cell regeneration, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, fresh and locally grown asparagus just tastes way better than store-bought, although with the price of sand. Smart Tip: Genius neo-chef and farmer Dan Barber warns that you should blanch your farmers market asparagus before using to get it fully clean.

Just so happened my mom was having a vegan dinner party this weekend, so I offered up this dish — my tribute to the asparagus gods — and it was a hit.

Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Get Your Leek On

Editor’s Note: New ES-er Nina, an NYC-based writer behind The Leafy Kitchen will be bringing us a new weekly column sharing her best ways for cooking up the season’s farmers market finds. First up: leeks!

PHOTO: h-bomb

One time, while checking out at Whole Foods, the young cashier looked my giant leek up and down, gave a shrug and then asked me what the hell it was. So, OK, if you’ve never cooked with a leek before, I guess you are forgiven. But C’MON. For those of you who need a refresher, leeks are a sister of the onion, related to scallions, chives, shallots and garlic. Leeks have a delicate, sweet flavor and won’t make you cry! They’re quite pretty, too: when you slice them, the layers come apart into dozens of perfect circles.

PHOTO: maeve

In the Northeast, onions and their kin are happiest in the early spring, so it’s not surprising that proud, oversized leeks were piled high under every produce tent at the Union Square farmers market this week. I picked up one with firm rooty bulbs and a long, white stem (the more white the better as that is the part you cook with), plus two bunches of kale to create my favorite caramelized leeks and greens that can used in a variety of ways.

Caramelized Leeks with Steamed Greens

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