Every now and then, a relationship needs a little shake up. The tried and true dinner and a movie can get a bit stale after a while. Since its summer (for at least another month!) it’s high time to take advantage of a fresh new dating venue: The Farmers Market. Fresh air, sunshine, lots of food to sample and taste, and plenty to see and talk about- the farmers market is the ideal place to take both a new date or a longstanding love. If you do a little research I’m sure you’ll find a farmers market in your town or at least nearby, with most setting up shop on Saturday’s throughout the summer.
Once you’ve found your date and location- why not make a day of it. Pick her up with some canvas bags to hold all your purchases, grab some coffee, and get shopping. Wander around and see what catches your eye. You can go into the day with a preconceived idea of what you want to cook, but its more fun if you just see what looks fresh and what excites you when you’re there. Stock up on a variety of items, and chances are they’ll come together into a delicious cohesive meal once you get cooking at home. That’s the beauty of local, seasonal ingredients- they all kind of lend themselves to one another.
Many farmers markets also host a selection of food trucks. These tend to develop a cult-like following, and usually for good reason. They turn out unique combinations, like Korean-Mexican fusion, grilled cheese done seventeen different ways, and award winning BBQ favorites. Food trucks usually keep their items pretty fairly priced- meaning you can sample a bit from several, branching out and trying new flavors and combinations. New, pleasurable, novel experiences like this cause your brain to release a powerful cocktail of hormones, including oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline and vasopressin, which are also the hormones that cause you to bond and fall in love. They’re also similar to the chemicals released in the brain by heroin, but that’s a different story. The point is, doing something fun and fresh can cause bonds to deepen, or refresh a bond that might be fading.
Whatever your situation, heading to the famers market is a great way to get out there and enjoy the summer season, get some sun, and snap up great deals on seasonal local produce. You’re supporting your local community, and getting access to smaller, more bespoke purveyors your grocery store doesn’t carry. Below I’ve suggested some ideas to get you going- but be creative! Come up with some fun ideas with your date, open a bottle of wine, put on some tunes, and get cooking.
- Corn: Grill it plain or Mexican style, strip off the kernels and make chowder, or corn salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, and a kick of balsamic. You can also wrap it in foil with butter and herbs and roast it in the oven.
- Basil: Mix it into your corn salad, layer it with tomatoes and mozzarella for a classic Caprese salad, chop it finely and toss with warm pasta, olive oil, and Parmesan. For a refreshing drink, muddle basil then mix with water, ice, and a squeeze of lemon.
- Tomatoes: Layer them in a salad with herbs and lemon, fry them up and serve them with a buttermilk dipping sauce, make a quick cook pasta sauce with olive oil and herbs, mix up some salsa. You can also make Panzanella, an Italian salad with tomatoes and cubed day-old bread.
- Peaches: Mix with other fruits and bake in a crumble, layer with vanilla ice cream and brown sugar for a dessert parfait, roast slices in the oven and toss into an arugula salad with walnuts and blue cheese.
- Blueberries: These make a phenomenal simple crumble as well, and are also great in blueberry crumble cake (see my recipe!). Mix them with corn and basil for a fresh summer side salad, or add them to your oatmeal or cereal for breakfast.
- Cucumbers: Slice these thinly and soak with a bit of sugar and a splash of white wine vinegar for a Scandinavian-style accompaniment to salmon, or marinade them in rice wine vinegar and Mirin (Japanese cooking wine) for an Asian-style side. You can also just slice them into spears, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped mint and basil for a starter that’s perfect for steamy summer nights.
*Photo Credit: Cornell University