It has been a fine summer for vegetable and fruit growing here on the peninsula and the local harvest season is in full swing. One of the best ways to experience this little bit of local magic for yourself is to visit one of our great local farmers markets, such as the Sequim Open Aire Market in downtown Sequim.
Why visit a farmers market? “Just-picked” is more than a marketing ploy; you can’t get fresher produce unless you garden yourself. “Delicious” describes the heirloom tomato or fun sweet pepper that was harvested when perfectly ripe. A “wide selection” means that you will find many flavorful, beautiful and fabulous varieties of fruit or vegetables that rarely appear in supermarkets because they are a non-standard size or shape, or because they don’t ship well.
Perhaps the most-underrated (and most enjoyable) reason to shop at your favorite market is because you get the chance to meet the person who grows your food. Building relationships like this helps to develop the vital connection between you and your food, which serves to remind us that “we are what we eat.” A meal made from ingredients that were grown by someone you know nourishes the soul as well as the body.
One of our favorite simple, fresh summertime “Market Meals” is a Greek salad. Let’s visit The Sequim Open Aire Market and put it together!
Begin with a visit to Nash’s Organic Produce booth for your cucumber. Nash’s slicing cukes are outstanding this year — firm, crisp and sweet — but any variety will do. Try something new that looks fun: Lemon cucumbers are heavenly and just the right size for one.
Onion is next on the list. Whether you prefer a crisp red onion or a sweet Walla Walla, M & H Farm will have what you need. Mary and Herman Horst have been growing vegetables for Sequim since before there was a farmers market and it will take only one taste to convince you that these folks know what they’re doing!
A big, ripe heirloom tomato is fun to search out. Visit all of the market’s produce growers and find your favorite. Perhaps a huge colorful “Pineapple” will catch your eye. Deep purple “Black Krim” tomatoes have incredible flavor and are beautiful when sliced. Can’t decide? Then try one of each — they’ll only be around for a short time!
Before leaving the Open Aire Market, be sure to stop by The Family Farm Market or Emily’s Flowers for a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. They will brighten your entire day and add a simple, special element to the evening’s meal.
Returning home, it’s time to complete your salad. Chop the onion, tomato and peeled cucumber in roughly equal proportions. Place in a bowl and crumble feta (our favorite is the Greek feta made by Port Townsend’s Whiskey Hill Goat Dairy) on top.
Add a very generous portion of dried herbs; a traditional mixture includes garlic and onion powders, dried onion, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, marjoram and mint. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. We like to enjoy our Greek salad with warmed pita or naan and a simple lemon yogurt cucumber sauce.
The Sequim Open Aire Market operates on Cedar Street in downtown Sequim every Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. through October. We are looking forward to several more weeks of summer veggies before moving on to fall specialties like potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash. If you visit your farmers market, it is easy to eat well and be well!