Farmers’ markets make me happy, always, anywhere, anytime of the year. They inspire cooks, attract all kinds of people, delight children, and decorate the world with produce, flowers, jams and hand-crafted many-things. One of the fine farmers’ markets which are local for lucky me here in NC is the Carrboro Farmers’ Market
, whose tagline “Locally grown, nationally known” is apt. They sell on both Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings this time of year, and they keep going Saturdays all winterlong, albeit with a smaller presence during the months of cabbages and collards. Also handy for me are Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market
, and the Durham Farmers Market
, both open yearround, as well as the South Durham Farmers’ Market
, and the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market
, both open April through November.
I kept thinking about peaches and blueberries, but before I made up my mind, I realized that my favorite farm-raised pleasure of summertime is a ripe, sweet gorgeous aromatic tomato. But the way I was raised, we don’t do too much to the tomatoes this time of year, beyond slicing them for eating with salt and pepper, or dealing them out on well mayonnaised- white bread for tomato sandwiches. So that’s not a recipe, nor, all by itself, a lunch. But that tomato, while not needing a recipe, anchors what I grew up loving about summer eating: the Southern vegetable plate. Not to give up or give up on meat, but to make time with the goodness from the garden, which next to everybody had. Corn, beans, squash, ‘cukes, ‘maters, okra, watermelons, canteloupes…..I’ll stop even though I’m not done.
Vegetable plates aren’t always vegetarian, as the green beans often got an assist in flavor and substance from a hunk of side meat or fatback. But the concept, based in joyful economy (no grocery bills) and flavor (can you spell ‘local’?) of garden vegetables, simply prepared and laid out like a quilt on a big dinner plate made a feast, especially if cornbread or biscuits were along for the ride. So here’s my Southern summer vegetable plate, with sliced tomatoes, green beans and new potatoes cooked together, and hard-boiled eggs. I added in an herbed mayonnaise and some canned tuna packed in oil, as a little birthday wave and nod to Julia Child’s Salad Nicoise. Her 100th birthday is coming up August 15th. She lived into her 90’s and her presence anchors the culinary profession in powerful, precious and wise ways, to this day. With the tuna, the dressing, and the hard-boiled rather than deviled eggs, I took things in a Southern direction. For a fine salad Nicoise, visit “Simply Recipes” HERE
, (and subscribe while you are there — a wonderful bountiful resource. For another recipe for salad Nicoise inspired by Julia Child, click HERE
, from the blog “8.ate@eight”
Spoonbread is a somewhat fancy version of cornbread, although it is every bit as easy to make, and lovely with almost any main course or meal. Its texture varies, from a soft custard to a sturdy pudding to a very moist bread. Cornbread can be as simple as cornmeal, salt and water, while spoonbread adds in eggs and milk or buttermilk, and leavening to lift it up into a rustic demi-souffle, one whose ‘poouf’ deflates quickly with no loss at all. I adore it, and usually make it in a cast iron skillet, but this recipe called for a 7-inch wide dish. Searching my cabinets for a 7-inch baking dish, I grinned when I found this white ceramic French-style ramekin. It allowed my spoonbread to become another small nod to Julia Child on her coming birthday.
Let’s Lunch on a Farmers’ Market Vegetable Plate “Nicoise” with Herb Mayonnaise and Spoonbread
(I blanch them to remove skins; if that’s too fussy, just slice ’em and go)
Green Beans and New Potatoes
(Boil till tender in salted water, leaving small potatoes whole)
(Cold water, to a boil, turn to low, 8 minutes, rinse and peel)
Tuna packed in oil
(Hated it as a kid; love it now. Stock up — uber-good pantry presence)
(1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons each of minced green onion and fresh herbs)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon lard (I used butter, which I had handy)
1 cup sour or buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pour boiling water over corn meal and butter, and then let cool. Beat in egg, milk, soda and salt. Pour batter into hot greased 7 inch baking dish. Bake at 400degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6
For a bountiful supply of superb and practical recipes for farmers’ market feasts all summer and throughout the year, get yourself a copy of this book:
The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes
This cookbook and reference guide by my good friend Sheri Castle
delivers everything you need to make the most of the produce find throughout the year. Visit Sheri’s website HERE
. Learn about the book and/or buy book HERE
Spoonbread is simple, satisfying, and goes with everything. It doesn’t usually come with breakfast but it sure goes with it.
I know you are still a little bit hungry, so here’s a buffet of posts by my fellow food bloggers & foodie friends,
who are lunching together on Farmers’ Market fare today and through the weekend.
I may add more so check back in a few days if you’re looking for more FM inspiration