Price is far from the only variable at the Greenmarket: You have to factor in crop variety, farming practices, and location. Peaches at some stands taste young right now, while others are fully peachalicious. You’ll find firm, photogenic specimens suitable for a few days of ripening, and smushy, fragrant piles of fruit begging to be sliced right into a pie crust. Shop around, and disregard those signs prohibiting squeezing.
What to Look For
Smaller and therefore faster to ripen, cherry-tomato varieties are the first to attain deliciousness. Gold nugget tomatoes are yellow-orange in color and have richer, fuller flavor than we remembered tomatoes could have. Pop them like candy, or quarter the little gems for a summer-only salad ($3.95 per pint at Oak Grove, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
Corchorus olitorius goes by almost as many names as there are tropical growing areas in the world; Jew’s mallow, Spanish okra, molokhia, Egyptian spinach, or sunhemp is a calcium-rich leafy green in the Linden family that tastes similar to spinach, but with the mucilaginous quality of okra. Beloved of Middle Eastern cooks (including the one who gave the seeds to farmer Ron), it’s also popular with Stokes’s West Indian customers. It frequently features in an Egyptian soup with chicken ($3 per large bunch at Stokes Farm, available Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
Pea shoots , a little more developed than sprouts, have tender yet crunchy green tendrils and a sweetly nutty, leguminous taste. Buy them organic and prewashed, and you’re a dressing away from a uniquely flavorful salad. Add peas to riff on the theme, or wilt in garlicky oil ($12 per pound at D’Attolico’s Organic Farm, available Wednesday and Saturday).
The Stark family cultivates the incredibly sweet Walla Walla onions in Pennsylvania, bringing them to the market so fresh and syrupy that it seems a shame to cook them. Instead, slice into sandwiches, salads, and dips, or feature them in an onion sandwich on white bread with butter and salt — and a breath-mint chaser ($1.50 per pound at Eckerton, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday).
This Just In
Cost-wise, baby vegetables offer diminishing returns, but they have their place. To make adorable stuffed peppers no larger than walnuts, check out the organic baby bell peppers at Norwich Meadows. They come in a rainbow of colors and taste as sweet and crunchy as their full-size brethren ($6 per pound at Norwich Meadow Farms, available Monday and Saturday).
Overheard at the Market: Snooze and Lose Department
“I’m racing that guy from Gramercy Tavern. When I see his wheelbarrow coming, I start grabbing stuff.” — Zoe Singer