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Taste of Summer: Farmer's Market Fun Featured

Taste of Summer: Farmer's Market Fun Hanson Watkins

The foods that we associate the most with the South are all at their peak in July. 

Shucking peas on the porch with grandmother, tomato sandwiches on white bread in the yard and having watermelon seed spitting contests are memories we all have here in Alabama. 

So what do you do with the haul from the farmer’s market when you get it home? 


Here are some 10-minute, minimal-ingredient recipes that highlight the best of July’s farmer’s market offerings. I almost hesitate to call these recipes because they are so easy. These will become go-to recipes for summer.  

Grandmother’s Italian Tomato Salad 

This is *the* classic tomato salad from the old country, and the Alabama tomatoes take it to a whole new level.  

Basil is also abundant (and cheap) in the summer. Allow time for this to sit and the flavors to meld, several hours if possible. Serve with fresh Italian or French bread to sop up the juice. Or stick to your southern roots and serve it with corn bread.   

5 lbs. tomatoes, washed, cored and chopped roughly (leave the skin, remove most of the seeds) 

1/2 cup torn basil 

4 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped roughly 

1/4-1/2 cup good quality olive oil (err on the side of more rather than less, it’s worth the calories) 

Mix in a large bowl. Serve at room temperature. 

Grilled Zucchini and Squash 

This is one of those things where the bit of char takes the texture and taste from kind of “ok” to “really good.” It’s really more of a technique than a recipe. I have tendency to eat them directly from the grill. If you have one of the mesh grill plates for cooking fish and small things, this would be a good time to use it. Otherwise, cut your vegetables lengthwise, rather than in rounds, so they don’t fall through. 

Zucchini and/or Squash – sliced 1/4 inch thick  

Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley (or just a mixture of garlic powder, garlic salt and parsley in equal amounts) 

Mesh grill basket or plate 

Sprinkle the pieces of sliced zucchini and squash with a pinch of the seasoned garlic salt on each side.  Grill until lightly charred on the edge. Flip each piece over and grill for approximately 3-4 more minutes. Make sure that there is a bit of black char on each piece.  

Herbed Grilled Corn on the Cob  

This is another example of the char from the grill elevating the food to new flavor profile. I have seen recipes that require you to remove the silks without removing the shuck in order to keep the moisture in the corn. That’s too much trouble for me. Frankly, a big slathering of mayo provides plenty of moisture.  Plus, fresh corn is so sweet that the char caramelizes the sugar in the corn. So make sure you have a few blackened areas (maybe 5-10 percent) on your corn. 

Fresh corn on the cob (6) 

1/2 cup mayonnaise 

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (such as cilantro, rosemary, thyme or basil) 

1/4 tsp. salt  

1/4 tsp. pepper 

Mix the ingredients (except corn) in a bowl. Grill the corn until slightly charred. Spread an equal amount of the mayonnaise mixture on the hot corn. 

Note: If you want to have Mexican corn, use chopped cilantro as your herb and chili powder instead of pepper. This is the classic street treat known as elotes. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese for authenticity. 

Local Farmer's Markets

Tuscaloosa Farmer’s Market: Tuesdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m.-noon. Tuscaloosa River Market, 1900 Jack Warner Blvd, Tuscaloosa. Shop for fresh produce, grass fed beef, baked goods, cheeses and more.  

Tuscaloosarivermarket.com; (205) 248-5295 

Homegrown Alabama Farmer’s Market: Thursdays, 3-6 p.m. 812 5th Avenue, Tuscaloosa. This University of Alabama student-run farmer’s market features vendors from all over the state, along with live music from local musicians.  

homegrownalabama.ua.edu; (205) 210-9621 

Northport Farmer’s Market: Saturdays, 6 a.m. to noon, 4150 5th Street, Northport. West Alabama’s farmer-run farmer’s market includes locally grown produce, meats and baked goods. 

npfarmersmarket.com; (205) 454-5728

Fruits and Vegetables that Hit Peak Season in July 

Sweet Potatoes 


Summer Squash 

Green Beans 

Snap Beans 





Crowder peas (and other peas) 

Purple hull peas 










Scuppernong grapes 

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