Summer is, hands down, the best time to hit up your local farmer’s market.
Once the weather starts getting warmer, there are a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs available for purchase–many of them at their cheapest prices of the year.
We asked chefs, food bloggers and other foodies for their best cheap recipes to take advantage of the summer’s bounty.
Here are 8 wonderful dishes try:
Crab and Corn Fritters
Showcase sweet farmer’s market corn in these fritters.
Stone Fruit Salad
Executive chef Eddie Rodriguez of Olives Gourmet Grocer in Long Beach, Calif., makes this salad with farmer’s market fruit and greens.
Wash and dry two white peaches, two nectarines, two plums, and half a pound of black cherries. Pit all the cherries and cut in half. Cut peaches, nectarines, and plums in half and remove the pits.
Cut all stone fruit into bite size wedges and toss together. Toss in cherries and a bunch of arugula.
Mix a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and two teaspoons of olive oil and toss salad in it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If desired, add fresh goat cheese from the farmer’s market.
Homemade Fruit Leather
Sheri Silver of “Donuts, Dresses and Dirt” nixes Fruit Roll-Ups in favor of a homemade version using farmer’s market finds.
“I like to top this with avocado for garnish,” EmpoweredPlate.com’s Janine McHale. “I’ll add some cooked chilled shrimp or lump crab meat to make it a meal.”
To prepare, place in a blender four large chopped tomatoes, three-quarters of a chopped cucumber, one chopped red or yellow bell pepper, one cup of chopped onion, two tablespoons red wine vinegar, one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, a half-teaspoon salt, one-quarter teaspoon freshly ground pepper, one smashed garlic clove and one cup water.
Blend until smooth. (If your blender isn’t large enough to fit everything, make two batches and mix together, she says.)
Place into a storage container or soup tureen. Stir in a small chopped zucchini and the remaining quarter of chopped cucumber. Chill for two hours.
Green Bean and Eggplant Salad
“This slightly crunchy, deliciously light salad is a perfect way to enjoy some of summer’s freshest and most beneficial ingredients,” says wellness coach Clea Shannon, founder of Live Inspired Today.
To make it, dice two medium eggplants. Steam in a large covered steamer basket for 10 minutes. At the five-minute mark, add a half-pound green beans that have had their ends trimmed. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside to allow draining and cooling.
In a large salad bowl add two seeded and diced tomatoes, one chopped small red onion, one cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, and a half-cup walnut pieces. Add beans and eggplant. Toss gently.
In a small bowl, whisk together two minced garlic cloves, a half-cup olive oil, and the juice and zest of one lemon. Pour dressing over salad. Toss until thoroughly mixed.
Sprinkle with a half-cup crumbled goat cheese, two tablespoons hemp seeds and salt and pepper to taste.
Think of this recipe as a more wow-worthy take on tomato juice.
Grilled Stone Fruit
Are peaches, plums, apricots or other stone fruit on your shopping list?
“Stone fruit become a wonderful dessert when cut in half; pit removed, spritzed with a bit of butter or oil and put cut side down on the grill for a minute or two,” says McHale. “Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar, or top with ice cream.”
Roasted Black Figs
Rodriguez serves these with smoked chicken in a maple glaze, but they also work well as a side dish for other meats.
Two prepare, add two slices bacon, cut in half, to a saucepan to render the fat. Add a chopped onion, two chopped celery stalks and three chopped garlic cloves. Cook for three minutes, and then deglaze with two cups Cabernet (or other red wine). Add two tablespoons maple syrup and let simmer.
Cut six black Mission figs in half, and wrap each in a half slice of bacon. Sear in the pan on both sides. Peel a half-pound baby carrots, season with salt and pepper and roast with the figs for five minutes.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.