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MARKET FRESH: August is peak fresh food season
August is the pinnacle of the local food season. The bounty seems limitless and there is virtually nothing that is not available.
For me, this time of year is all about the corn. If you read this column last year, you already know how obsessed I am with corn on the cob and how many I can eat.
But corn isn’t the only treat this time of year. Now is the time to stock up on tomatoes, too — and so many varieties are available. Cherry tomatoes in a multitude of colours are perfect to pop in your mouth or serve in a Greek salad. Heirloom tomatoes are so sweet, they shine all by themselves with nothing more than a drizzle of vinegar (especially if its vinegar from Red Barn) and a sprinkle of sea salt. Forstbauer Organics and Langley Organics will supply you with the very best of the heirlooms.
If its tomatoes for sauce that you are after, Red Barn and Silver Hill have those, along with Natural Village and Country Village farms. Traditional varieties of tomatoes are perfect for canning. If canning seems a bit daunting, you can do what I do: Wash and core the tomatoes then pop them into freezer bags and freeze them whole — they cook up beautifully when you need them for a sauce.
And while you are freezing, once you have had your fill of fresh peaches, they, too, will freeze easily. All they require is a simple blanch to remove the skins, then cut them and freeze them in layers on cookie sheets. Once frozen, they can be put in freezer bags, too — perfect for smoothies, fruit crisps or pies when you want a taste of summer in January.
And don’t forget the blueberries. It looks like its going to be a banner year for these sweet treats. All this sun is making those beauties extra big and sweet. Blueberries have to be the easiest of all to preserve. Give them a quick rinse, spread them on a cookie sheet and freeze. A large zipper bag will hold plenty of summer to add to your baking. If you want to get creative and have time on your hands, dip the blueberries in vanilla greek yogurt first, then freeze — a decadent treat.
And speaking of treats, how about making homemade potato chips? In the microwave, no less? These really do work. If you have a mandolin, slice a scrubbed potato super thin. If not, just slice it as thin as you can. Toss the slices in a bowl with a bit of olive oil and salt. (This would be a great time to experiment with the flavoured salts from The Salt Dispensary). Coat a microwave-safe plate with a bit more oil and place a layer of potatoes on the plate. Microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds, then flip the slices and microwave again. That’s it. As the potatoes cool, they crisp up and are delicious.
While you have the mandolin out, slice up some extra veggies and make a vegetable tian (see recipe). This dish makes the most of tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini, and, with the exception of the olive oil, every single ingredient can be purchased at market.
Karen Curtis is the Lemonade Lady (www.kicslemonade.ca and kicslemonade.blogspot.ca) at the Coquitlam Farmers Market. Her column runs once a month during market season.
There are plenty of fresh, local vegetables at local markets with which you can try out this recipe:
2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 large sweet yellow onion cut in half and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 yellow squash
3 large Roma tomatoes
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
dried thyme, to taste
1/2 cup of grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the greased baking dish.
Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly into a spiral, making only one layer. Season with sea salt, black pepper and dried thyme, to taste. Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil over the top.
Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover and sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy.
– adapted from fortheloveofcooking.net