Fresh Picks: Summer Guide to Local Produce

WP_20140628_004Summer may be hot and humid, but fortunately we’ve got plenty of locally grown fruits and veggies that like it that way!  Here are some suggestions on where to pick (and eat) your produce this summer.

Blueberries

Louisiana blueberries are some of the best! They are big and sweet, and I love that feeling when they burst in your mouth. Blueberries are good in sauces, sweets, and, of course, cocktails. Plus their rich navy color makes a dramatic addition to meat dishes and salads. While the season is almost over, you may be able to catch one more pick at Blue Harvest Farms.

Blueberries are the most snackable fruit, so I like to pop them right into my kisser one by one. If you prefer something a little more decadent, then try the Peach Blueberry Crumble Pie at High Hat Café. It comes a la mode with Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream and a healthy smear of fresh whipped cream. Hey, a girl’s gotta get her calcium!

Squash

Zucchini, yellow, patty pan, or mirliton, we are so lucky to get some form of this delectable and versatile veggie pretty squashmuch year round. This summer the best has come from the Old Ironworks Farm Stand. A few weeks ago I took a stroll through the Bywater, scoped out Crescent Park, and swung by to visit Linnzi Zaorski (yes, the Frenchman Street Singer) to sample her selection of farm-grown baby heirloom squash from just outside of Covington. I got home, tossed the puppies in a little oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in the oven. Those cute cucurbita were small but mighty, by far the most succulent veggies I’ve had to date.

Squash are a great way to get in touch with your meatless side and are the perfect feature in a vegetarian meal. Next time you’d like to skip the steak head over to Seed and try their Enchiladas (or anything on the menu). I have always loved vegetables, but Seed really knows how to make them satisfy my soul!

Tomatoes

tomatoes rbl

Tomatoes are a staple in almost all types of cooking, so they’re a great local choice for the ethnic foodies out there. From caprese to salsa, bredie to chutney, the culinary possibilities are endless. Hollygrove has had an amazing selection and variety this summer, and I’ve gotten a different type of tomato in every weekly box. So far I have tried heirlooms, creoles, tomatillos (not scientifically a tomato, but if it can stand up to chips and margaritas, then it counts for me), and a few others that were all delicious.

Often an afterthought, tomatoes usually get the shrug off under the term “dressed,” however, Coquette’s lunch menu boasts an Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with spicy harissa and cheddar cheese. This sandwich plus two additional courses from Coquette can all be yours for a steal this summer. With their $23 lunch special and killer cocktails, Coquette is my new favorite way to spend a lazy afternoon!

Eggplant

You either love it or you hate it, or, like me, you’re a diehard convert. I love eggplant, and it’s readily available right from ccfmour hometown. Eggplants can be so beautiful, ranging in color from dark black violet to lavender freckled. You can get local varieties from several vendors at the Crescent City Farmers Market. The CCFM’s three different Downtown, Mid-City, and Uptown markets make it the most convenient option for fresh, local goods.

On a recent trip to Mopho I spotted the Slow Roasted and Crispy Fried Covey Rise Eggplant on the menu. Wow. In true Mopho style, the flavors they crank out of this dish are incredible. The texture contrast between the crispy shell and tender eggplant knock this one out of the (City) Park!

Hollygrove BoxPeaches

Millions of peaches, peaches for free? Yes, please! If Hollygrove wants to give me free peaches then I will gladly take them. I am completely in awe of this year’s crop. These peaches come from Alexandria or Mississippi, and they’re tender, sweet, juicy, tangy, and overall the best thing I’ve ever tasted, really.  Please go try some of these sweet things, and tell them I sent ya. P.S. If you volunteer on the farm for a day, then your box is free!

So, I haven’t yet been to Maurepas, but I do proudly stalk them on social media, and they have been posting the peachiest food porn lately. Dishes like Peaches & Peppers with lemon balm, mint, and a coriander vinaigrette or Gulf Shrimp with new potatoes and pickled peaches are totally at the top of my to-do list! Hurry up and go try these before life gets a little less peachy.

I’m a huge fan of ‘farm to my belly’ eating, so I pick local produce whenever I can! Where are your favorite markets, stands, or restaurants to fill up on your favorites? Feel free to tell me in the comments!

About Lauren

Lauren is an uptown girl that enjoys long strolls in Audubon Park with her lab mix Pongo. Her philosophy on Nola life is that you don't ever really get used to the heat, you just get used to glistening.

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