The Dirt: What To Get At The Farmers Market This Weekend


Philly. Is. So. Hot. Right. Now. Take one ride on SEPTA, have one conversation with a stranger anywhere, chat with one neighbor and I guarantee that this will be the topic of conversation. But for as much as we city dwellers can complain, the fact is that the people growing food are out in the sunshine suffering through the heat far more than our spoiled, over air-conditioned selves can even imagine. The good news is that our local farmers have some serious goods to show for their toil.

Cherries – Time to dig the pitter out and make yourself a pie because the big new arrival this week is sweet, fat cherries of nearly every variety! Plan to arrive early to market for a shot at sour cherries (also called pie cherries), typically in shorter supply, if you dare turn your oven on in this heat. For eating out of hand look for sweet, delicate Rainiers, easy to spot for their golden hue and pink cheeks, and naturally there’ll be plenty of different varieties of red cherries around as well.

Fennel – Juicy and sweet, with a delicate anise flavor, fresh fennel has arrived. Look for it from Weimer Organics at Bryn Mawr, and from Landisdale at Chestnut Hill and Clark Park.

Patty Pan Squash – Your basic zucchini and yellow squash made their debut a few weeks ago, but their tiny, irresistible little friends the pattypans have now arrived, too. While the flavor of patty pan squash is nearly indistinguishable from other summer squash, their diminutive size means that their seeds are typically very small and their flesh dense, which means they cook up creamy and never fibrous. Check them out at Two Gander at the Bryn Mawr market.

New Potatoes – Delicate, waxy little new potatoes have arrived and they’re just the cutest! Save your mayo-based potato salad for later. Treat these little babies the way you would another late spring flavor. Steam them, boil them, or grill them in an aluminum foil packet. You’ll be blown away by their creamy texture and their fresh, earthy flavor. Look for them at Landisdale Farm at Clark Park and Chestnut Hill.

Cooking Greens – Look, I don’t care whether or not you cook them, blend them into a smoothie, massage them into a salad, or hide them from your children in a batch of muffins. However you eat them, now’s the time for big, luscious bunches of greens. Collards, mustard greens, swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, and more varieties of kale than you would believe, pick up some greens this weekend. If this heat holds you’ll have to kiss them goodbye sooner than you’d like.

Escarole – A staple of the Italian table, it’s time for everybody else to get on board with escarole. It has a texture similar to romaine, but a bitter flavor closer to that of radicchio. Sure, you can eat it in a salad if you’re into that kind of thing, but it also sautés up (with garlic, obviously) into a super juicy tangle. Even better? Wash it well, halve it, hose it down with olive oil, and slap it on a grill. As they say in Italy, “Holy Moly.” Look for big, feathery heads of it from Root Mass Farm at Heahouse.