Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's in Season Near You?

I spent a good amount of time sauntering through NYC's farmers market in Union Square this past weekend and I can confidently say that summer produce is finally on the horizon (fingers crossed with this gray, rainy weather we've been having). Depending on where we live however, summertime, seasonal produce may vary. Just because peaches are out by the bushel in early July in Virginia, doesn't mean you'll find them at your local greenmarket in Vermont. Weather and agriculture is certainly unpredictable, but I think it also makes the shopping experience that much more exciting, intriguing and creative (well, it often forces you to be more creative!). Go with what your geographic area gives you and you won't be disappointed in terms of flavor and taste. Wondering what's in season near you during June, July and August? Checkout Epicurious.com's fantastic Farm-to-Table Seasonal Cooking guide -- seasonal recipes, tips, 10 of the nation's best locavore restaurants, AND a peak-season map for produce around the country. See what's happening right now in your state. For NY, we've just hit strawberry season. Sugar snap and shell peas, rhubarb, asparagus, radishes and spinach are on overdrive at the greenmarket. Eat up! Here's one of my favorite early summer recipes that plays up the perfect pairing of strawberries and rhubarb in an indulgently healthful dessert.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Serves 10-12

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

3 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1" pieces)

4 cups strawberries (halved or quartered, about 1 1/2 pints)

1 tsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp vanilla extract (my secret ingredient)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, toss the sugar, cornstarch, rhubarb, berries, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix well and transfer to a lightly buttered 13x9 glass baking dish. Mix the remaining ingredients to form coarse crumb and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Bake at 350ยบ for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crumb topping is lightly browned. Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or frozen yogurt.

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