Summer food is here!

Danielle, Paul and I once again signed up to split a half share from One Straw Farm‘s CSA, and as last year we are picking it up on Saturdays at Waverly Market, a year-round farmer’s market. I had been intending to post about the different things I got each week, as I did last summer, but since it started a few weeks ago and I obviously haven’t mentioned it, I think I’ll abandon that plan and instead just try to get back in the habit of posting about any new recipes I try. Except that would require that I try new recipes, which I haven’t done much of lately. This spring was just so busy that I got into a bit of a cooking rut, and was falling back on old standbys. Not that this is a bad thing, but it doesn’t make for much of anything interesting to share.

Anyway, here’s a little report on what I’ve been eating from the market lately. The growing season has been better this year (except for the recent lack of rain, which was somewhat relieved yesterday), so we didn’t have as long a period of time when it was “greens greens greens” in the CSA offerings.

Local strawberries have come and gone, and were delicious. Cherries are still around here and there. Blueberries appeared a couple of weeks ago, and have also been tasty. Peaches showed up last week, and once again I can’t believe I ever thought I didn’t like them. (Or maybe they are one of those fruits that don’t do well when they’re not local & seasonal.) Asparagus was fleeting and tasty. This week I did get some lettuce, but summer squash of various kinds have been around for a couple of weeks, as have tomatoes. Eastern Shore corn is in and quite yummy, and the farmer doesn’t look at you weird when you ask for a single lady serving of “two ears” instead of a dozen or a half dozen. (Though I did get a half dozen this weekend to try a new recipe, stay tuned.)

The first “new” thing that I’ve made (and can remember at the moment) is a very simple tomato salad. Tomatoes have been around for a few weeks now, but I was skeptical — I’m just not used to them being available so early, I’m ingrained with the thought of them being a late-summer arrival. But at the Takoma Park farmer’s market over Independence Day weekend I saw, and bought, some tasty varieties of red and orange tomatoes that quite changed my mind. (I had been in DC the night before and stopped in with Meaghan & Dan before I headed back to Baltimore, as I needed to get something for a barbecue that night.)

That first batch of tomatoes was made into a delicious, super simple tomato salad that went to a cookout. I diced them in various sizes, all on the smallish side, and threw in some sea salt, fresh ground pepper, a small clove of garlic very finely minced, and a whole lot of fresh basil from my garden. Then I let it sit for a while at room temperature, covered, and stirred it around occasionally. It was just delicious. The tomatoes gave off their juices and since there wasn’t much to the other ingredients, they were the star of the show. The garlic was just right, it lent more of an aroma than a flavor, which is what I was going for. I’m glad I didn’t immediately add any olive oil or vinegar, because it wasn’t at all necessary. If you somehow get tomatoes that aren’t particularly juicy, you might add in a little very high quality olive oil, or perhaps some nice red wine vinegar. But if you’re making this salad with tomatoes at the peak of ripeness — a little on the firm side, but with lovely coloring — you shouldn’t need it at all. Just make sure you have some tasty bread around to soak up the rest of those juices. I’ll be making this again this summer because the leftovers made a couple of great side dishes. Obviously this is the kind of thing that scales well, so you can make a serving with just one tomato in the morning, and let it sit until you get home that evening for dinner.