Farmers' market season is in its prime and with more than 8600 of them popping up in small towns and cities all over America, it’s easier than ever to get farm-fresh goodness. If you’re a farmers' market regular, you know that buying your produce directly from the growers results in juicier, riper and more flavorful veg. And if you’re like us, you’re going to get all the fresh eggs, cucumbers, and strawberries you can carry--and then some.
We’re sharing some of our favorite farmers' market finds--the usual suspects and some more unknown--plus our tips on best ways to cook and flavor pairings.
To find a Farmers' Market near you, visit the USDA Farmers Market Directory
One of the most coveted items at the Farmer’s Market, these wild leeks are some of the first plants to crop up out of the thawed soil each Spring. A member of the allium family, these versatile, garlicky stems have been in such high demand over the last few years they’re considered a black-market item in Canada (no, we’re not kidding). But it’s no surprise why--they’re delicious in pretty much anything.
At the Market: If you want a chance at scoring some ramps, you must get there early! If you do happen to spot them, look for clean white bulbs and fresh, perky stalks that are vibrant green.
Flavor Pairings: Use them in place of garlic, onions, chives, or leeks in scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, or salads. Or go the traditional route by pickling them or making a ramp pesto. Great with bright citrusy flavors like Lemon Pepper Seasoning.
With the variety of jewel-like colors, heirloom tomatoes just look more appetizing. Even the name makes you think of some higher, more elegant form of the standard red tomato. Are they really different from the red varieties you buy in the grocery store? Heirloom tomatoes get their name because their seeds are passed down from season to season. The best, juiciest, and most flavorful tomato seeds are harvested and saved to be grown again and enjoyed generation after generation.
At the Market: The benefit of buying heirlooms directly from the Farmers' Market is that you can ask the grower which varieties are the most flavorful. In general, heirlooms should be taut and shiny (some cracks are okay).
No trip to the market is complete without picking up a few of these purple and green bulbs that look straight from another planet. If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying kohlrabi, imagine a cross between jicama, radish, and broccoli that’s equally tasty fresh or cooked. Keep it fresh by simply peeling and grating into a Kohlrabi Coleslaw. With a starchier consistency (think turnip or rutabaga), the bulbs can tolerate heartier treatments like roasting, braising, and frying.
At the Market: Look for kohlrabi with perky, unblemished leaves and a firm bulb that’s not cracked or dry looking. And color doesn’t matter: both purple and green bulbs have the same luscious white interior.
A classic case of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” This space broccoli is so other-worldly, it was even featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A cousin of cauliflower, romanesco is a crunchier version with a milder, earthier flavor that turns creamy when cooked. Use as a substitute in any broccoli or cauliflower dish. We like it roasted or blanched and tossed in pasta, or as steaks brushed with olive oil and lightly charred on the grill.
At the Market: The head should be firm, bright and crisp, with perky, fresh leaves.
You see an array of colors at the Farmer’s Market, but do they taste different than the standard red variety? The short answer is yes, each variety of beet has its own flavor profile. Golden beets are slightly less sweet and milder in flavor than the traditional red beet. They’re also less earthier in flavor so more approachable to those who've sworn off beets.
At the Market: Look for vibrant colors, healthy looking greens, and little to no dryness on the bulb.
Flavor Pairings: When roasted, the caramelized earthy flavor is complemented with savory herbs like rosemary, thyme, and marjoram. Try our Beet and Goat Cheese Salad featuring the versatile Veggie Shake or enjoy them fresh and crunchy in this Heirloom Beet Salad.
Summer SquashWhile summer squash and zucchini can typically be found year-round in your supermarket, it's worth seeking them out at your local farmer's market. If you're lucky, you can also find other varieties like pattypan, cousa, zephyr, or eightball zucchini. No matter the variety, the soft skin and mild flavor of summer squash makes them incredibly versatile for cooking.
At the Market: Look for vibrant colors and smooth, unblemished skin. If choosing summer squash or zucchini, look for even thickness--the bigger the zucchini, the mealier it can taste.
Flavor Pairings: Balance the crispness with savory and smokey flavors like our Bacon Shakes, or roast with sliced bratwurst and California Garlic Pepper in this Roasted Brat & Summer Squash Sheet Pan Dinner.
Our Favorite Farm-Fresh Recipes: