4 Gorgeous Summer Farmers Market Finds

For fruit and vegetable fans (here’s looking at you, ZENB fam), summer is it. The ample rainfall and blazing sunshine of the season mean that local farms are busy harvesting some of the most exciting crops of the year. A trip to the farmers market during summer is a dazzling sensory experience, with each market stall and table laden with a veritable rainbow of goodies.

There’s just so much color and flavor at the literal peak of ripeness, but it’s temporary! You’ve gotta get it while the getting is good. Of all the gems at summer farmers markets, here are the four summer finds we’re most amped about:

Tomatoes

You’ve heard of Tomato Girl Summer? Well, we’re calling this one Heirloom Tomato Summer. In most parts of the US, tomatoes come into their absolute prime between June and August — drippy, juicy, impossibly sweet — reminding you just how “meh” non-seasonal tomatoes are.

Truly, there is a tomato for every mood: snackable cherry and grape tomatoes to eat out of hand, beefsteak tomatoes for layering onto BLTs, jewel-toned heirlooms to glam up salads, and on and on. Some are more tender and delicate, while others are earthy and robust. There are umpteen types of heirlooms, and a few you might encounter at the market include:

  • Cherokee Purple: These dark purple tomatoes are known for their complex, lightly smokey, slightly vinous flavor with a subtle sweet finish.
  • Green Zebra: A stunning variegated green and yellow skin gives way to tangy, high-acid flesh.
  • Persimmon: A smooth, orange tomato that indeed resembles the fruit of the same name. It features a creamy meaty texture with very few seeds. 
  • Giant Pink Belgium: A large, super-juicy pink tomato that’s amazing for sandwiches.

Summer tomatoes are magical when eaten raw, but they cook up beautifully, too, in recipes like ZENB Rotini with Baked Feta and Cherry Tomatoes and Creamy Tomato ZENB Penne Pasta.

Berries

Honey-sweet and sun-ripened, summer berries are a pleasure unlike any other. Tart, vibrant raspberries; luscious, rich blackberries; and cheerful, crimson strawberries: We’ll take heaps of them all, please.

With fresh market berries, less is more. Try a few over coconut yogurt in the morning, or topped with whipped cream as an afternoon treat. Or, if you find yourself with an abundance of berries (lucky!), a pie, cobbler, or homemade ice cream will elevate them beautifully.

To prolong the shelf life of seasonal berries, give them a gentle rinse and store them in an open container lined with paper towels. Try not to crowd them too much to avoid tragic squishing!

Corn

Another star of the summer is sweet corn. The standard yellow ears are glorious unto themselves, but if you dig around at the farmers market, you might come across some of these heirloom varieties:

  • Bloody Butcher: Dramatic crimson kernels are the calling card of this variety of corn, with a name straight out of a B horror movie. This corn is great for roasting, and is also often used to make corn flour and grits.
  • Country Gentleman: Sweet, milky corn with kernels in a cool zig-zag pattern. Perfect for eating on the cob.
  • Painted Mountain: Each of these ears sports an unbelievable array of colorful kernels, which actually look like they’ve been painted. This variety is pretty rare, so if you see it, scoop it up!

Sliced off the cob and cooked to coax out even more sweetness, fresh farmers market corn is also a fabulous addition to recipes, like ZENB Elbows with Summer Street Corn, Farmers Market ZENB Pasta with Burrata, and Summer ZENB Elbow Pasta with BListered Corn, Parmesan and Truffle Oil.

Peppers

Crunchy, snappy bell peppers and fiery hot peppers are another fav from the summer agricultural haul. There are so many more kinds of peppers to explore beyond the green, red, yellow, and orange you see at the supermarket. Keep your eyes peeled for these less common peppers at the farmers market:

  • Lilac Bell: The prettiest light purple, these peppers turn red as they mature. If you find them young, serve them uncooked to preserve the color.
  • Biquinho Red or Yellow Peppers: These small, teardrop-shaped Brazilian peppers have a unique tropical flavor with just a hint of heat.
  • Chocolate Habanero: A creamy brown color, which looks so much like chocolate, these peppers are really, really extra-spicy. Buyer beware!

Peppers and pasta are good friends; try your peppers in Sausage & Peppers ZENB Pasta, Lasagna-Style ZENB Elbows Pasta Stuffed Peppers, and Roasted Mediterranean Veggies with ZENB Penne Pasta.


Once you’ve come home from the market loaded with produce, hit up the ZENB recipe collection to figure out what to do with it all! For more kitchen inspiration, dig into our blog, and follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.


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