It’s the first week of summer, which means there’s no better time to play my favorite game…
i.e., “What to do with that _____ you see at the farmer’s market!?” The good news? You don’t have to do a lot. Here’s where to start.
Zucchini — I love running these through the shredder; squeezing dry with a dish towel; tossing with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; then piling up on a pizza dough. You can either add a layer of shredded mozzarella underneath the zucchini or, for a more dramatic experience, just break some burrata over the top after it comes out of the oven (as shown above). Either way, it should bake for about 10 to 15 minutes at 450°F. (Don’t forget to brush the perimeter of your dough with olive oil.) This tastes great at room temperature, too.
Sugar Snap Peas — I haven’t been able to think of anything else since spying Hana Asbrink’s Sesame Snap Pea Chicken Salad in the New York Times last week. You might encounter a paywall accessing the official recipe, but the shortcut, text-a-friend version might read like this: Shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken, then toss with trimmed sugar snap peas, scallions, sesame seeds, chiles and a sesame-ginger-soy sauce dressing. Serve warm or chilled.
Stone Fruits — We are still probably a week or two away from peak peaches and plums, but I love them so much that I can’t resist gambling on a half dozen or so every time I swing by a farmer’s market. The thing is, even when they haven’t reached ideal sweetness, I can still chop up a peach with tomatoes, arugula, little mozzarella balls, slivered basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, and serve on toasts, bruschetta style. (Or, failing that, just broil the halved fruit with a little cinnamon-sugar and brushed melted butter for dessert.) If your plums aren’t soft and dripping with sweetness, they can still add a wonderful tang to a chicken stir-fry.
Cucumbers — In the morning, chuck a few peeled, seeded, chopped cucumbers into a blender with a chunked avocado, some scallions, lime juice, plain yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper, cilantro or mint (and water to reach desired consistency), then blend and chill until later in the day. Your dinnertime self will be so grateful to just pour that pitcher into soup bowls and top with more herbs and chilled shrimp if you’re feeling it.
Eggplant — This might sound surprising, but I’ve only recently fallen in love with eggplant. I will eat any kind any time, but this time of year, I’ll specifically seek out the speckled graffiti or fairy tale varieties, chop and pan-fry them in oil with garlic until toasty, then top with either cashews or peanuts, feta, chili oil, and mint. That’s usually lunch. If I want to dinner-ize it, I’ll add rice or baked tofu.
Asparagus — We’re almost at the end of asparagus season here in New York, but I’ll be grabbing them until the last possible moment. You can 100% toss your spears with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill them and serve with fresh lemon juice and Parm alongside a piece of grilled chicken or pork or tofu. But if I want to upgrade the asparagus to superstar status, I whirl it (post-steaming) with olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to make the most velvety, flavorful green sauce for salmon, chicken or spaghetti. Thin it out with vegetable broth or water and you can even serve it with croutons, yogurt and chives for soup.
Kohlrabi — Some of you may have spied piles of these at your favorite vendor and scratched your head before moving on to the more familiar cabbages. I did that for so long, too, before realizing that when you peel the tough outer layer, then chop the kohlrabi into small cubes, it adds that crucial crunch to so many dishes — salads, stir-fries, slaws, bean salads, tuna salads. The gluten-free set might like to know about the way Stone Barns chef Dan Barber once deployed them: He peeled, then sliced super-thin cross-sections to make shells for shredded pork tacos.
Who else is counting the minutes until corn and tomato season?