Find fresh food and friends at your local farmers markets

features@beaufortgazette.comJune 20, 2013 

The Port Royal Farmers Market from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays at Heritage Park on Ribaut Road.

ARREST INFORMATION COURTESY OF BEAUFORT CO. SHERIFF'S OFFICE

I stroll along the walkway, admiring all the different foods. It's not a question of what I want to buy, so much as where do I even begin? The farmers are there with produce; the bakers are there with breads; and there is even music to put everyone in a folksy mood. Women shop with baskets. Men ask questions about vegetables and seafood. And the vendors turn the space into an outdoor classroom, teaching about the foods the grow, catch and create.

This is the Port Royal Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

The farmers market is quite the meeting place, and now there are benches where one can sit and enjoy the surroundings and their newly purchased food. One is bound to run into friends there, and it's a great place to catch up on old times.

Set aside some time to visit your local farmers market and then get to work in the kitchen.

RATATOUILLE

1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

2 medium red, green or yellow bell pepper, or any combination, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Unless eggplant is very young, remove peel. Place eggplant and zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with salt and toss lightly. Allow to drain for at least 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat bottom of skillet. When oil is hot, add onions. Saute until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in all ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes to reduce liquid.

Ratatouille is best made a day ahead to allow flavors to blend. Serve warm or cold.

Source: "Supermarket Cook Book" (1940)

EGGPLANT FRITTERS

2 cups cooked mashed eggplant

1 1/2 cups cooked white rice

1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/3 cup (heaping) flour

2 eggs, well beaten

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Dash of red pepper sauce

Oil

Combine all ingredients except oil. Heat 1/2-inch oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop mixture by tablespoons into oil and fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal file

GRILLED SUMMER SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI

3 small summer squash (combination of zucchini and yellow)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Halve each squash but do not peel. Combine rest of ingredients for sauce. To grill, place the squash on a rack over medium hot coals with the rack set 6 inches from the heat source. Baste with some of the sauce. Grill the squash about 5 minutes on each side, basting frequently with sauce.

Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal file

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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