August is always a little bittersweet.
On the one hand, it’s summer! Farmers markets are brimming with bright produce, so fresh and flavorful it hardly needs treatment. But August also feels like the fastest month of the year: Before you know it fall will be upon us and kitchens will be filled with the smells of apples, pumpkin and nutmeg.
Until then, let us capitalize on the bounty of oh-so-quick August. Here are five foods to eat this month, and a few simple ideas for getting the most out of your farmers market loot.
Eating summer tomatoes puts the winter variety to shame. This is the time to make a simple caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of balsamic. Cherry tomatoes are so bursting with flavor right now, they can be added to virtually any dish with fantastic results. Make a cannellini bean salad with fresh herbs and a quick vinaigrette, or grill on skewers and serve with toasted bread and creamy ricotta spread.
This time of year, corn is so sweet there’s no need for butter or salt. Eat it on the cob or make a salad to pack for a picnic at the beach. Try fresh corn with heirloom tomatoes, diced red onion, feta and snap peas. Make it a meal by adding grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and fold into a lettuce wrap. Or mix grilled corn (off the cob) with onions, peaches, basil, and our new favorite summer spice: sumac.
New York and New Jersey peaches have a very short season, so get your fill now. A juicy peach at the peak of ripeness is wonderful on it’s own, soft and syrupy with a candy-like sweetness. If you’re looking to get creative, grill thick slices and serve with vanilla ice cream or add them to a homemade marinade that will caramelize pork chops beautifully on the grill. Or slice them into an arugula salad with pistachios and ricotta.
A classic cobbler is easy to put together and always well-received. Or impress guests with a blackberry-mint margarita: muddle blackberries and fresh mint with tequila, then add lime juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into glasses filled with ice, then garnish with extra blackberries and mint sprigs. Serve in mason jars for your hipster friends.
An easy pick-up at the farmers market, green beans can make a great picnic salad, parboiled and tossed with red wine vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. For an easy barbecue side dish, toss green beans in olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and put directly on the grill until slightly charred. Or try a Southern dish: saute bacon and add green beans and tomatoes. Slow cook for 2 to 3 hours. You’ll be astonished at the results.