After visiting Italy and passing through my fair share of fresh fruit and vegetable markets, herb gardens, and mouthwatering meal experiences, I have felt really inspired to be back in the kitchen. It’s been a long time since I last got to cooking a meal that I felt connected to and proud of sourcing the ingredients on my own and planning it out from start to finish. After spending a few weeks in New York post my European adventures, I thought what better time to visit the farmer’s market and make a really fresh meal out of the visit.
I decided on Union Square Farmer’s Market, which is a staple in New York if you’re at all into fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other local and sustainable goods. The produce you can expect to find during summer months includes apples, asparagus, avocado, basil, beets, citrus fruits, eggplant, kale, melon, mushrooms, peaches, pears, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini to name a few. Being that New York in the summer feels like no less than 98 degrees on an average day, there was no way I was walking down to the market. I decided to stop by and pick up an Enterprise CarShare and drive downtown instead. The process was so quick and easy, and makes so much sense to rent on an hourly or daily basis. I don’t even need to have my own car in the city, since I can rent this one so easily!
Now that the car is squared away, the question is what to make? I stole inspiration from two of my favorite foodie bloggers, A Couple Cooks and Smitten Kitchen. The recipes are always so fresh and very much my style. On the menu is a simple summer pasta with tomato and zucchini paired with eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish. If that’s not the perfect summer farmer’s market dinner (on the fly!), then I don’t know what is.
Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Parmesan
(adapted from A Couple Cooks)
1 pound whole wheat linguine (or other pasta of choice)
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes (1 red and 1 yellow)
2 small zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the pasta until al dente.
- Meanwhile, core and finely chop the tomatoes. Thinly slice 2 zucchini. Chop 2 tablespoons each basil and parsley, and mince 2 cloves garlic. If not already grated, grate ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and garlic, along with 1½ teaspoons kosher salt and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the bowl of tomatoes; add the zucchini and toss well. Add ½ cup Parmesan cheese and toss again.
- Serve topped with more grated cheese and freshly ground pepper.
Eggplant with Yogurt and Tomato Relish
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds eggplant; I prefer the long, thin variety here but any will do
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup plain yogurt
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim eggplants and cut in half lengthwise; season cut sides with salt and pepper. Coat a large roasting pan with olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons). Arrange eggplants cut side down; sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes on the first side, or until brown underneath then flip and roast 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
2. Make tomato relish by pulsing garlic and parsley in a blender or food processor until finely chopped, then add tomatoes and pulse until they’re well chopped. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper or a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. If you don’t have a food processor, mince the garlic and parsley well and finely chop the tomatoes; stir together with remaining ingredients. Both methods: taste for seasoning. We like this extra sharp and almost always add 1 more teaspoon vinegar and more salt. The longer it sits, the more potent it gets.
3. To assemble, schmear each eggplant half with a little yogurt. Spoon tomato relish over and serve the rest of all the above on the side.
If it wasn’t for Enterprise CarShare there would have been no way that I’d have time (or energy!) to make it to the market in the blistering summer heat. I was able to pick up the car at a lot near me and drop it off just a few hours later with no hassle at all. This post is in partnership with Enterprise CarShare, but all text and opinions are my own.