Certain foods just taste better in the summer. One of my favorite summer foods is a panzanella salad. I like to go to the farmer’s market to pick up my ingredients for this yummy and filling salad. Of course, I love to go to the farmer’s market for many reasons. And since I like lists, here are my favorite reasons to shop at the farmer’s market!
1. Avoid the Coldscape: Do you know WHY the tomatoes you grow or buy at the farmer’s market taste so much better? They are allowed to ripen on the vine and picked at their peak and sold to you. When you buy produce from the grocery store the food goes through what is called the coldscape. Upon being picked it is chilled to nearly freezing to slow down the ripening process. Don’t get me wrong, without the coldscape, I would have never eaten a mango or banana in my life. But when I can avoid the coldscape I will!
2. Get your kids involved: Our local farmer’s market has a goat milk soap vendor and they will often bring their baby goats for petting, they have a playground, music and ice cream. It is a great opportunity for my daughter to choose new fruits or vegetables that she would like. She learns what different foods look like and from where they come. A true family event that you definitely do not get at the grocery store!
3. Try something new: For this trip we got golden cauliflower to try. I love that there are so many different kinds of fruits and vegetables that are not always found in our local grocer. You can ask the farmer’s themselves what it tastes like and they can often give you ideas on how to prepare it.
4. Good for the local economy: Support your local farmer! Keep your money local! There is a reason why shopping local is so huge right now. It’s just the right thing to do whenever possible.
5. Good for the planet: I know, I know.. I say this in most of my posts. But it is true. You avoid all of the transportation costs of shipping your food halfway around the planet when you buy local. Think of all that electricity that must be used to keep the coldscape functional. It’s just better for the planet to buy as much as you can from a local farmer.
After our trip to the farmer’s market we were all set to make our panzanella salad. The great thing about this salad is that it is super versatile. You need some type of crusty bread, a juicy vegetable and olive oil. Other than that you can adjust to your taste. I hate to sound like Ina Garten here… but I would highly recommend using “good” olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We will typically buy a big bottle of average olive oil for every day cooking and keep a small bottle of the expensive stuff for finishing oil, dressings, etc. This recipe is very approximate; just do whatever looks good to you!
1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
½ French baguette
1 bunch green onions
Handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh oregano
Fresh mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic
“good” olive oil
“good” balsamic vinegar
Cut bread into large cubes and add to large bowl with halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, chopped greens of green onion, chopped basil and oregano, cubed cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and chop garlic finely. Drizzle about 2 TBSP of olive oil and 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar over everything and toss until everything is coated well.
Refrigerate for at least a few hours. I like to refrigerate it for awhile to let all of the juice soak up the bread and then let it come back up to room temperature for serving. It will taste even better the next day if you can wait that long!
And THAT is summer in a bowl, my friends!
I hope you enjoy!