3 Fresh Recipes Inspired by the Farmers Market

Make the most of the options at the farmers market.Make the most of the options at the farmers market.By Zester Daily Staff

Farmers markets are overflowing this time of year with a seemingly endless supply of familiar produce like tomatoes, beans and greens and exotic heirloom veggies that you've never seen before.

Confronted with all the great options at the vendors' stalls, it can be tough to think of recipes that will use up all that great garden produce.

Here are three recipes to inspire your next farmers market shopping trip and make your summer dinners a little more interesting.

RELATED: Tips for cooking straight from the garden.

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PASTA WITH EGGPLANT AND SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

Contributing: Martha Rose Shulman

Serves 4

Small round eggplants are delicate and cook quickly. This is based on an Apulian dish.

Ingredients

2 small round eggplant, cut in ½-inch dice
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
A generous pinch of red chile flakes
2 large tomatoes (about 12 to 14 ounces), peeled and cored
3 or 4 basil leaves, cut in slivers, torn in pieces, or chopped
3/4 pound spaghetti
Parmesan or Pecorino for serving

Directions

1. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let sit in a colander for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta (and for blanching the tomatoes to peel).

2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet and add the eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and tender all the way through, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes in half across the equator and squeeze out the seeds through a strainer set over a bowl.

3. Rub the seed pods against the strainer to extract juice. Chop the tomatoes.

4. When the eggplant is tender, add the garlic and chile flakes, stir together for about 30 seconds until fragrant, and stir in the tomatoes and tomato juice. Add salt to taste and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the basil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat but keep warm.

5. Bring the pasta water to a boil, salt generously and add the spaghetti. Cook al dente, about 9 minutes. Stir ¼ to ½ cup of the pasta cooking water into the eggplant sauce and drain the pasta. Toss with the sauce and serve, passing Parmesan or Pecorino at the table.

RELATED: Why Community-Supported Agriculture cooperatives aren't for everyone.

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BLANCHED OKRA

Contributing: Jessica B. Harris

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 pound small unblemished okra pods, topped and tailed

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

1. Place the water in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

2. Plunge the okra into the water and allow it to cook for three to five minutes.

3. Add the lemon juice at the last minute of cooking time.

4. Remove the okra, drain, and serve hot with a pat of butter.

RELATED: Great healthy summer corn recipes.

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A SALAD OF TUSCAN KALE, SQUASH, CHEDDAR CHEESE AND ALMONDS

Contributing: David Latt

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 small kabocha squash, about 2 pounds

1 bunch black or Tuscan kale, washed, stems removed, julienned

1 cup cheese, a good quality English or Irish cheddar, cut into half-inch squares

1 tablespoon whole almonds, roasted unsalted, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper

Directions

1. Cut the squash into quarters, scrape out the seeds and fibers on the inside. Place in a steamer. Add 2 cups of water to the pot. Cover and cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes until cooked but firm, remove, and let cool. Remove the skin and discard. You will need a cup of cooked squash. Reserve the left over portion to use in a soup or as a side dish with a grilled meat.

2. Cut the cooked squash into half-inch squares.

3. In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1 tablespoon. Set aside to cool.

4. Place the julienned kale on the bottom of a serving bowl, sprinkle the squash pieces, cheddar, and almonds over the top and dress with olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar, and season with sea salt and pepper.

RELATED: What to do with squash.

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