It’s hard to avoid seeing a farmer’s market when you travel in the summer. From the city to the shore and up into the mountains there are signs lining our roads pointing us to the best of seasonal produce. In fact, you don’t even need to drive very far to visit one, since some supermarkets are beginning to support their local farmer’s by hosting a farmer’s market outside their doors one day each week.
If you’ve ever visited one of these farmer’s markets you’ll know that there’s more than vegetables and fruits to be found there. In addition to the produce you can pick up bread, pies, cakes, cheeses, honey, meats, and don’t forget the inedible products like flowers, homespun yarn and crafted products. Whether you’re shopping for something specific or you just drop by to see what’s being offered from week to week, it can be a fun, educational trip as you become familiar with the local vendors and they share with you just what makes their products unique and special.
You’ll soon discover that the makings of a very easy party can be found in one of these market trips. All you’ll need to do is wander from stall to stall, choose the best, fresh ingredients and with minimal cooking, you can have a dinner party ready for your guests in very little time. I selected recipes that would cover the main finds at a typical summer farmer’s market, but pick and choose based on what you find at yours.
Setting the Stage with Farm Market Finds
Flowers - If you’re fortunate, there will be a farmer selling flowers at the Farmer’s Market. Pick up a bunch, or two, or three, and your tables will immediately look ready for a party. Tall vases filled with sunflowers make a dramatic statement. Multiple small vases with bouquets of filed flowers like daisies are cheerful.
Herbs - Fill your car with the fragrance of large bunches of herbs picked up at the market. Then put the herbs into ball jars with enough water to keep them fresh and place them on your table as an alternative to flowers.
Sometimes there will be vendors selling baskets at the market. Fill those baskets with tomatoes, peaches, apples, pears, or any other attractive fruit or vegetable and use them to decorate your table.
Cheeses - Pick up a variety of cheeses and serve them as a first course. Some cheese sellers offer curds that have been flavored with olive oil and herbs, and when piled on a pretty plate, they can make an interesting hors d’oeuvres.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta - Use bread, tomatoes, and basil purchased at the market and turn them into flavorful, crunchy bruschetta.
Kebabs - If you’ve been caught up in exploring the market a little bit longer than you intended, kebabs are your answer to an easy main dish for your party. This list of the Top 10 Kebab Recipes will help you turn any ingredient you’ve selected at the market, whether meat or vegetarian, into a quick and easy main for your menu.
Mixed Green Vegetables - Sometimes the easiest side dish is created by throwing a bunch of the best vegetables on the grill and letting the heat work its magic. This simple recipe can be adapted to whatever you pick up in your travels.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Fresh Basil, Parsely and Chives - Grilling corn on the cob adds extra flavor to this favorite summer vegetable. Adding fresh from the market herbs can only make it that much tastier.
Herb Cucumber Tossed Salad - Freshly picked cucumbers are always extra crisp and flavorful, compared with the wax coated variety you may find in the supermarket during the winter. For that reason, they should be a player in most of your summer menus.
Fruit Pie - Before you head out to the market, prepare or purchase dough for a pie and set it up in your pie dish. When you return home, it won’t take long to prepare a fruit pie for dessert using the ripe fruit you found at the market.
Fresh Fruit Platter - A platter of cut up fresh fruit that has been arranged attractively is as appealing in the summer as a chocolate torte is in the winter months.