5 Essential Farmers Market Finds for Grilling Season
The number of farmers markets around the country has more than doubled in the last decade, and for good reason: In addition to the fact that the markets support local farmers, farm-fresh produce is likely to retain more nutrients and have less of a carbon footprint than its supermarket brethren. Shopping your local farmers market is a surefire method for bringing home seasonal flavor, but as grilling season descends, grab these summer essentials for all-star meals all season long.
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Follow your nose and select any fragrant fresh herbs. Most herbs are interchangeable in recipes, particularly when you swap within types like leafy options (such as basil, cilantro or dill) or woodier, heartier herbs (like thyme, oregano or rosemary). Blend handfuls of fresh leafy herbs with olive oil and other aromatics like lemon juice and garlic for a quick sauce to pair with grilled meats and vegetables, or add a fresh note to marinades by adding chopped herbs. Sturdy rosemary sprigs double as skewers, and try leftover herbs as a garnish on serving platters.
Dress up the unofficial fruit of the summer by throwing it on the grill: Pair a grilled split peach with a scoop of ice cream for an easy dessert, but don’t stop there! Use chopped grilled peaches in salads or salsas. Grilling adds savory depth to peaches, making them a great counterpart for grilled chicken and onions.
Grilling with the husks on or off is all a matter of preference, and thanks to the natural sweetness of summer corn, there’s no right amount of time either, making grilled corn the easiest crowd-pleaser of a side (though husked and charred may not be ideal!). When corn is grilled with husks on, the husk and silks may char, but they’re easily removed and discarded; 10 minutes on each side is about all that’s needed for a hot ear of corn. With a husked ear of corn, about 5 minutes per side should do the trick. Seasoning corn before grilling — if at all! — isn’t necessary, but try slathering a grilled ear of corn with a simple mixture of mayonnaise, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and lime juice for a Mexican-inspired twist.
Local Meat, Poultry and Seafood
Every farmers market is different, but take note of what local specialties are available. Offerings as wide and varied as summer trout, fresh sausages or bison steaks are often unique to a region — and likely to be great tossed on the grill. Ask purveyors for tips — pricking fresh summer sausages may be the trick to keeping them from exploding on the grill!
There isn’t a vegetable on the market with as much variety and such a swift, fleeting season. Some varieties are short and fat, and others are long and thin, but all varieties have a mild, buttery flavor that makes summer squash a no-brainer on the grill. Grill planks, both thick and thin, and add rounds or cubes to skewers.