Farm Fresh


071213_farm_fresh1The Maryland foodie’s hallmarks of summer used to be a proliferation of snowball stands, then tomato stands, then stands for silver queen corn. In the past few years, the demand for healthy, organic and local food has popularized a new culinary staple of summer in our state: the farmers’ market.

It starts right now and continues until the end of August. Make the most of local Maryland bumper crops of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can visit a local farmers’ market almost every day of the week. It’s where you will find artisan breads, organic herbs and vegetable plants, along with a weekly array of home-grown items, fresh flowers, crafts and wines. Homemade baked goods (even gluten-free) are featured at many farmers’ markets and are usually from “made-from-scratch” recipes. Some markets feature farm-fresh eggs from chickens and ducks and heirloom tomatoes. I love the Tuesday afternoon hours of the Pikesville and Kenilworth farmers’ markets. Look for Calvert Gifts at Kenilworth for gorgeous, delicious heirloom tomatoes.

Photos by Justin Tsucalas
Photos by Justin Tsucalas

Having a party or Shabbat dinner? Plan your menu after visiting a market. July 20 is Tu B’Av, a.k.a. Jewish love day. Why not invite a bunch of singles to your Shabbat lunch? Ask each one to bring a three-minute Jewish food story for fun conversation.

Become a savvy farmers’ market shopper by following the tips below. For a list of all Baltimore City and County farmers’ markets go to

How to successfully navigate a farmers’ market:

  • Bring cash, preferably $1 bills in a fanny pack.
  • Take a walking inventory of the entire market to compare prices before making purchases.
  • Bring a sturdy tote bag, or better yet a canvas shopping cart with wheels (empty egg cartons work well to transport berries and figs); don’t forget a cooler for the drive home.
  • Don’t be shy; ask for a taste before buying, and ask the farmers’ favorite recipes for their produce.

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced sun-dried tomatoes, softened
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, optional
scant 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place cleaned string beans in a large saucepan. Fill with enough water to cover beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. In a bowl, stir together shallots, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and oil. Pour over green beans. Scatter pine nuts on top. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. Serve cold. 8 servings.

2 14-ounce cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
lemon juice to taste
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
3 leeks, white portion only, chopped
3 green or other colored peppers, cut into strips
6 asparagus spears, cut into pieces
1⁄2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 10-ounce cans of vegetable or Oriental broth
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh parsley, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
6-8 ounces thick sliced fresh mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
3 5-ounce packages saffron-flavored yellow rice*

Sprinkle some lemon juice on the artichokes and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onions until soft. Stir in tomatoes, leeks, artichokes, peppers, asparagus, peas and 1 can of broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cans of broth, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Add rice, stirring well. Simmer, covered, over low-medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, before serving. 6-8 servings.

*You can substitute 12⁄3 cups long-grain rice and 1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric for packaged yellow rice.

1 pound carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Splenda
1 clove finely minced garlic
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or powdered curry
1⁄2 cup raisins

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and continue to boil until just tender, about 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, Splenda, and garlic. Add cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in carrots and raisins and toss all together with dressing. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. 4-5 servings.

1 prepared 9- or 10-inch pie crust
1 small package of crumbled goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large Vidalia onions, halved and sliced
3 medium-to-large Maryland, Jersey or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
grated Parmesan cheese

Bake pie crust according to directions to lightly brown. Cool. In a large
fry pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add sliced onions and caramelize them, stirring often. Sprinkle goat’s cheese on bottom of pie crust. Place onions on top. Layer tomato slices over onions. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. 8-10 servings.

Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.

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