Here are a few ways that I cook and prepare farmer’s market fresh vegetables, including squash, peas, petite eggplant, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
My favorite farmer’s market vegetables.
There are few places I love more than a good farmer’s market. Like a child in a candy shop, I am in Heaven walking from stand to stand to pick out garden-fresh produce. Here are my favorite vegetables to buy fresh, as they are never as good in the grocery. I added my favorite fruits to the list as well.
- Fresh and heirloom tomatoes.
- Fresh peas (lady, field, butter, purple hull)
- Summer squash and petite eggplant.
- Watermelon, cantaloupe, and peaches.
A Few Ways I prepare fresh vegetables.
There are a few tried and true ways that I prepare fresh vegetables, and I share my recipes below. The method that I share for peas is my “original recipe” before I had an Instant Pot. I will link to my new favorite way to cook peas~in the Instant Pot~as well.
How to add flavor to fresh vegetables.
There are a few ways that I like to add flavor to fresh vegetables. Meat (or other fat), seasonings, and broth. These 3 elements are super easy to tweak with what you have on hand. Here are a few tips and substitutions that I use.
- Meat adds flavor to vegetables, mainly peas, beans, and greens. My favorite meats to use with vegetables are smoked turkey necks/neck bones and bacon. Smoked ham hocks are also great for cooking collards. For vegans, extra virgin olive oil is a great substitute for animal fats.
- Seasonings. Kosher salt is a given. Some other seasonings I use with vegetables are Cajun (Zatarains or Tony Chachere’s) and Berbere (a 12-spice seasoning blend). Berbere is one of my favorites; it is a North African blend that is very robust and fairly hot. I love it on oven-baked okra. I use small amounts of onion and garlic in my beans and greens. These are basically “fresh seasonings” that add flavor.
- Broth. For beans, peas, and greens, broth or stock is a must. It infuses the vegetables with flavor as they cook. I like to use a combination of bone broth, Better Than Bouillon base, and bouillon cubes. These different versions can be layered for a very rich and delicious flavor.
How to Skillet Saute Fresh Vegetables
This is one of my favorite methods of cooking fresh vegetables. I love using a good EVOO, a cast-iron skillet, and a good seasoning. Of course kosher salt is a given, but for added flavor, I often use a spice blend. Zatarain’s is a fave, along with Tony Chachere’s Creole and Penzey’s Berbere (use sparingly it is intense).
I share the recipe + video of how to make skillet sauteed petite baby eggplant.
- 4-5 petite eggplant
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cornmeal (I use McEwen & Sons)
- 1 TB Cajun seasoning
- 2 TB EVOO or expeller-pressed safflower
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Slice eggplant thinly (lengthwise).
- Place eggplant, cornmeal, salt & seasoning in a ziploc bag; shake well.
- Saute in oil; turn only when brown and crisp on each side.
Add salt as needed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 servings Serving Size: 6 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 225Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 645mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 12gSugar: 15gProtein: 4g
How to cook fresh peas on the stovetop.
I share the recipe below for “Lady Peas” but this can be used for any fresh, delicate peas. T Zane’s mom, (aka Mimi), shared this recipe with me years ago. We lived in Montgomery as newlyweds, and I would go to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday. A vendor there always had Lady Peas…..a delicate pea that cooked up soft and creamy.
- fresh lady peas
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 slice bacon (or fat of your choice)
- 1 pat butter (optional but adds creaminess)
- Put all of the ingredients (except peas) in pan and heat until bacon cooks and butter melts.
- Add peas, and add water to cover.
- Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook on simmer for at least 45 minutes or until peas are tender.
Keep adding liquid to keep peas just covered.
If you want to leave out the bacon, you can add a teaspoonful or two of the chicken or ham base to these peas for a richer flavor.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 39Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 327mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g
How to cook Southern-style peas in an Instant Pot.
This is how I cook fresh or frozen peas this days~in an Instant Pot. I love the convenience of being able to press a button and walk away for hours and come back to perfect peas. The stovetop method won’t allow for leaving the house or running errands (especially if you have a gas stovetop). Stovetop peas have to be tended to by adding more broth if they get dry, adjusting the temperature if they boil instead of simmer, and removing from heat once done. The Instant Pot is zero maintenance.
- 2-3 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 slices hickory smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2-3 cups chicken broth
- 1 bouillon cube (optional but adds more richness)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Set Instant Pot on saute.
- Heat EVOO in the pot along with bacon pieces.
- When bacon begins to brown, add the onion.
- Cook until onion begins to caramelize.
- Add chicken broth and bouillon cube).
- Fill water to make liquid just above peas.
- Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.
- When pressure cooking stops, allow slow release.
- Leave peas in IP until time to serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 158Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 890mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g
- fresh squash cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 onion (sweet or Vidalia) into small slices
- extra virgin olive oil--about 2 TB
- 1 pat butter-optional
- seasoning of choice (I use sea salt & fresh ground pepper)
- In large pan, heat oil until hot; add squash & onions.
- Sprinkle with seasonings.
- Heat for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown. Turn.
- Heat 4-5 minutes until the other side turns brown or begins to crisp.
- Remove from heat when squash is golden brown and onions tender.
- 2 tomatoes, de-seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 cucumbers, sliced and cut into halves
- 1 Vidalia onion, sliced (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (apple cider or red wine will suffice too)
- 1 TB sugar
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- Mix oil, vinegar, salt & pepper until blended.
- Pour over cucumbers, tomatoes and onion.
- Let marinate for at least on hour.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 88Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 63mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g
How to cook fresh peach cobbler.
I have to end with one of my all-time favorite fresh fruits and how to cook it. I love fresh peaches, and my peach cobbler recipe (with buttermilk) is DIVINE!!!! The recipe is below, along with a short video in which I share my favorite TIP for peeling peaches perfectly.
I hope this post is helpful in some way, especially if you buy a bounty from the farmer’s market. What are YOUR favorite vegetables from the farmer’s market? I would love to hear how you cook them!! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!