Over the summer, I put aside my cookbooks and let nature inspire me when I visit at my local farmers market ( and our beloved neighborhood farm stand operated by the Butynski family). My usual strategy at the farmers market is to make a exploratory pass around the stands to eye this week’s seasonal goodies, then I begin to mentally combine this and that to make a few complete dishes or entire meals.
I try to be creative, and mix colors and textures to my best seasonal advantage. While I enjoy doing this, it may be a futile exercise ( so too, I have learned, is too-much fretting about what plants to put together in a flower garden ) because Mother Nature has seen to it that seasonal, local vegetables almost never miss when combined together.
For instance, the veggies in these pictures became a beautiful, colorful and delicious salad that I made to go with dinner that evening. In fact, the salad was so beautiful that I decided to turn it into dinner by embellishing it with a little local goat cheese and some thin strips of a maple-cured ham steak that we bought from Hollister Hill Farm in Vermont and grilled to give it a nice ‘char’ around the edges.
I drizzled richly-textured Olivar de la Luna extra-virgin olive oil http://www.cooksshophere.com/products/oliveoil.htm over the salad to conteract the slight bitter-bite of the radicchio and finished with a few splashes of La Masia Rioja red wine vinegar http://www.cooksshophere.com/products/vinegar.htm and a scattering of crunchy sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Here’s what I bought: squeeky-fresh snow peas, a trio of yellow, orange and red heirloom carrots, radicchio, and fresh-dug red and white onions. I also purchased a small head of cabbage which I used to make a delicious, colorful coleslaw that featured the trio of carrots, red onions, chopped walnuts and some tiny Turkish golden raisins.