After sighting the seasons first apricots at the Greenmarket last Saturday, we figure the dog days cant be far behind. Gather your dinner-party guests while the weather is still cool enough for cooking, and be prepared to switch to a raw-food (or ice-cream) diet any day now.
What to Look For
Callaloo features in a soupy Caribbean dish by the same name that usually contains okra. Also called red amaranth, the gorgeous fuchsia leaves have a tangy, mineral-rich flavor. The plant, said to be even more nutritious than spinach, is associated with immortality in Greek mythology and used for its curative properties in Chinese medicine. Cook in its namesake dish, saut the leaves and thin stems, or shred into stir-fries ($2 per bunch at Gorzynski, available Saturday).
Black raspberries appear earlier in the summer than blackberries; they look quite similar but have a hollow center. Though cultivated black raspberries, available at several farms, are large, sweet, and juicy, perfect for topping a tart, the tiny wild ones are worth seeking out for their woodsy, winey flavor ($4 per half-pint for both wild and cultivated berries at Eckerton, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday).
Green beans are so ubiquitous that its a pleasant surprise to learn theyre just coming into season (the weather they like best occurs in the first part of the summer and then again in early fall). Compared to the tougher varieties that are machine-picked for supermarkets, the ones at the Greenmarket are a lighter green, with a velvety skin and a lot more taste. Enjoy them barely cooked in salads or with dips ($3 per quart at James Durr, available Saturday).
Middle Eastern cucumbers, a.k.a. Persian cucumbers, are particularly sweet and melonlike, with smooth, dense flesh and not too many seeds. Thanks to their relatively low moisture content, theyre delicious for snacking on and well suited to gazpacho or cucumber salad ($3 per pound for organic cukes at Norwich Meadows, available Monday and Saturday).
Blink and Youll Miss It
Gooseberries, translucent, lime-green-and-white-striped orbs that become tinged with pink as they ripen, are the size of huge blueberries. Their season in these parts is unlikely to last more than three weeks. Simmer with sugar, cool, and fold into whipped cream for a British gooseberry fool, or turn them into a fruity filling for beignets ($4 per half-pint for unsprayed berries at Nemeth Orchards, available Saturday; $3.50 per half-pint at Fantasy Fruit, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday). Zoe Singer