I am so excited about this week’s #SundaySupper theme, Farmer’s Market and Local Foods. I’ve talked before about how critical access to fresh, affordable produce is for families who are struggling with poverty and hunger issues. In my neighborhood, most families shop at corner stores because they’re the most convenient option. Many families don’t have cars so they shop wherever they can walk. Have you shopped at a corner store lately? You usually won’t find anything green there, unless you count a pack of Double Mint Gum.
Thankfully, the community gardening movement and the rise of farmer’s markets that accept EBT cards have helped fill the gap and give families access to healthful, locally grown produce. In my zip code alone, there are at least a dozen community gardens. And, even more exciting, our neighborhood just opened a Cooperative Market where you can buy canned goods, dairy, breads, meats and fresh produce sourced from local farmers and entrepreneurs.
To me, shopping locally is a win for everyone. It supports small farmers. It boosts the local economy, encourages new business, and provides much-needed job opportunities. It has a lighter impact on the planet. You can find fun, unusual ingredients that often don’t make it to commercial grocery store shelves (pluot anyone?)
And, perhaps the best benefit of all, it tastes so darn good. You’re just not going to find a tomato that tastes better than the one that’s grown a few miles (or steps) from your house.
One of the reasons I am so thankful to live in Columbus is because we have such a vibrant local food scene. Many restaurants take care to source their ingredients from local farmers. Farmer’s markets have popped up in nearly every neighborhood in the city, and the shop local movement has taken on a life of its own with organizations like The Small Business Beanstalk leading the way.
Of course, shopping locally has it’s challenges in a city like Columbus. During the winter the selection is limited, and even though I love a good sweet potato, even I tire of them after a few months.
But the summer? The summer is a smorgasbord. Everywhere you look there are bright, juicy berries, zucchini the size of baseball bats, and corn on the cob just screaming for a pat of butter.
Summer is, in my opinion, the easiest season to cook. Dishes are simpler and cleaner, the flavors bright and unmuted by extras. Often a great dinner hinges on a single perfectly ripe vegetable. Seasonings get dialed back and are replaced with squeezes of lemon juice and sprinklings of fresh herb. Plates are bursting with colors–reds, oranges, greens, purples. No garnish is needed to make these dishes pop.
This Summer Linguine with Grilled Vegetables is one of those summer dishes I just can’t get enough of. It’s light and fresh, dressed simply with lemon juice, good quality olive oil, and a dusting of Parmesan cheese. The flavor stars here are the vegetables–charred on the edges, grilled just long enough to coax out their sweet undertones. Each bite has a slightly different feel in your mouth– a burst of tomato juice, the slight crunch of a red pepper, a silky noodle. You’ll want to slurp this pasta up, then go back for more.
The other great thing about this? It is endlessly adaptable. Add whatever tidbits are growing in your garden, experiment with different herbs. Use bowties or angel hair pasta. Go to the farmer’s market and pick the most beautiful vegetables you can find. Don’t forget to grab a school-bus yellow lemon and a block of Parmesan. That’s all you’ll need for one heck of a summer dinner.
Check out all the other ways that you can make the most out of your local farmer’s market finds by using the search bar at the top of the page, and search the phrase “Summer”.