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


Some people call this the dog days, but however you say it we’re smack in the heart of summer. The paradox of the season is that now, in the middle of peak growing season, city restaurants are at their quietest as patrons skip town for the shore, but seasonal menus driven by locally-sourced ingredients are at their most exciting. Take a chance this weekend at snagging a Saturday reservation because you might be pleasantly surprised. Or, take advantage of the bounty at the farmer’s market and the dog days of summer might feel more like salad days instead.

White Peaches – At Beechwood, Three Springs and Frecon Farms this weekend you’ll see deep rose-colored white peaches in addition to the yellow ones at market. Called a “sub-acid” fruit, people often think that white peaches are sweeter than yellow ones. In truth, the sweetness is about the same, but white varieties have less acidity, which means that white peaches can offer the sensation of being even sweeter and more floral than their orangey counterparts. While yellow peaches are best for baking and preserves, their acidity balancing their sweetness, white ones are at their best eaten out of hand or frozen up into a delicate sorbet or granita.

Malabar Spinach – Mid-summer, when other greens are flagging in the heat, malabar does better and better. One of the most heat and drought resistant plants, we should all be eating more of it. Though it’s called spinach, the two leaves aren’t even remotely related. The similarity is that malabar has dense, juicy leaves. They taste a little bit peppery and tart, and though you can certainly cook them as you would spinach they do take longer to wilt down. That said, they hold up much better in soups or sautés. Look for it at Queen’s Farm (Headhouse) or at the Wyck House market in Germantown.

Pattypan Squash – Cute little summer squash in the shape of flying saucers, pattypans taste pretty much the same as every other variety of summer squash but their diminutive size and distinctive shape make them a favorite. Check them out at Taproot Farm (Chestnut Hill).

Tomatillo – The student farm squad of the Urban Nutrition Initiative is making salsa time happen for you and for me by bringing tomatillos to the Clark Park market.

Eggplant – Dark purple, squeaky Italian eggplants have been in from some of the New Jersey farms for a few weeks, but just now we’re starting to see some variety. Long, skinny Asian varieties. Medium-sized white ones, round, light purple Turkish eggplants, and even tiny ones covered in a riot of purple and white stripes. You’ll find an amazing selection at Two Gander Farm (Bryn Mawr) and at Weaver’s Way (Headhouse).