As we head into Labor Day Weekend and what serves as the de facto last week of summer for so many of us, temps and humidity continue to rise here in NYC. The upside - the late summer produce from local farmers right now is some of the finest of the year! Below, a spotlight on three of the summer classics that are at their best right now.
Even as we move to spending more time outside in the company of family and friend this weekend, we can stay out of the hot kitchen and still manage to eat fresh, local and seasonal. Take a stroll to your nearest farmers market and talk to your purveyor / farmer about what they are harvesting right now.
Sliced, diced and served solo as the star sweet and refreshing treat, it doesn't take much to make a fresh watermelon to perfect accompaniment to a late-summer day. Watermelon pairs wonderfully with mint in its sweet form, but the addition of other green herbs like basil, cilantro or parsley transform the watermelon into a perfect salty-savory conduit. Just slice the watermelon into simple cubes, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sea salt, and heap on a generous portion of the favorite green herb of your choosing. For an added punch, tuck in some crumbles of feta or goat cheese throughout.
This one hardly needs more elaboration. The delicious staple of a lightly-grilled corn on the cob is emblematic of summer-fun for a reason. We love elevating it ever so slightly by taking the corn cob right from the grill, brushing it with fresh lime juice, and then sprinkling on a little salt and cayenne pepper.
Simpler yet, skip the grilling / cooking altogether and enjoy your August corn exactly as it is! Just take your cob raw, slice the kernels from the cob, and toss into salads, omelettes or enjoy it solo. The key is to start with a cob that is sweet and tender. To maximize sweetness and tenderness, start by nabbing corn that is freshly harvested - and the best way to do that is to find locally-farmed corn that hasn't had to travel far from the field to your table. The corn of farms on New Jersey and Long Island are particularly stunning now.
The local tomatoes that appear at farmers markets in late summer are hardly recognizable from their mass-greenhouse farmed brethren than make it to us in the winter months. The tomatoes available now will have a flavor, texture and all around oooomph factor that can't be missed. When picking your tomatoes, remember: don't judge a book by its cover! Some of the juiciest, sweetest and most flavorful tomatoes won't be round or pretty, and they may not even be red! Experiment with different tomatoes sizes and varieties to discover which flavor profiles you like best.
To preserve the tomatoes at their best, don't store them in the refrigerator! Rather, keep them out at room temperature until you are ready to use them, and consider storing the larger tomatoes with the stem side down (which is thought to slow the aging process and keep them fresh longer).