Cookouts and farmers markets
It’s time for cookouts and farmers markets!
May is National Barbecue, Vinegar, Strawberry and Egg Month. And this year, our first farmers market was on May 28 — the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend!
The unofficial start of summer means beaches, baseball, paddles and lots of special events! College kids have returned home. Flowers are in full bloom. We gather with friends to eat outdoors.
Ever since World War I, Memorial Day has been a time to honor our war veterans. For many, it is also the start of grilling season. Three out of four Americans own a grill — and now is the time we take those grills out of winter storage.
This year, Memorial Day weekend marks our first outdoor farmers’ market. Our Saturday farmers market in the park is a great way to build relationships — with our farmers and with other citizens of our community. Get together with friends, shop for local food and listen to great local musicians. And eat!
Farmers markets bring fresh, seasonal, local produce. During the winter, we’re limited to vegetables we can buy in the store or the garden produce that we’ve stored for winter use. In the summer, however, fresh, local produce is plentiful. Farmers market fare is fresh — and tastes so much better than supermarket vegetables.
So, buy what you need for your cookout locally at the farmers market. Your menu can be simple or elaborate. Some prefer hamburgers and hot dogs, while others opt for chicken, steak, ribs or clams. Include veggie burgers, too, for those who don’t want meat.
Allow your menu to reflect the freshness of spring. Make it light with grilled chicken, salmon, or vegetarian grilled Portobello sandwiches. Grilled spring vegetables like asparagus are a special treat. Create salads with lettuce, scallions and radishes — not just salads of fresh greens, but potato or rice or pasta. This time of year, fresh, local greens like spinach and arugula are plentiful. Baked beans, chips, iced tea and soda help to round out the meal.
Fresh Grilled Asparagus
2 pounds fresh asparagus
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Lightly oil the grate of an outdoor grill and heat to high.
While grill is heating, wash asparagus and trim off bottoms. Lightly coat the spears with oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning spears, or to desired tenderness.
Primavera Picnic Potato Salad
1 lb. potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch of radishes (6 or more, depending on size)
1/2 bunch scallions (about 3 or 4)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 or 2 teaspoons mustard, optional
Black pepper and additional salt to taste
Wash or peel potatoes. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and add the salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork-tender (14-20 minutes). Be careful not to overcook them. Drain well. Cut into bite-size chunks.
In another small saucepan, cover eggs with water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 1 minute, turn off heat, and leave for 7-8 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water, and peel.
While potatoes and eggs are cooking, wash radishes, cut off ends and slice thin. Cut off root ends and wilted leaves of scallions, wash and slice. Set aside. Rinse the parsley and chop fine.
Place potatoes, eggs, radishes and parsley in salad bowl. Stir in yogurt and mustard, if using.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Alternate dressing: combine 1 Tablespoon quality wine vinegar, 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons mustard in a cup. Pour over salad.
— — —
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Words Are My World.