Her Family Farm has its first round of fresh basil starting to emerge at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers’ market, with this Thai variety my top pick of the week. It is also available at the Sunday Camino Real farmers’ market from the Mou Family Farm.
I was excited to fill my kitchen with jars of this aromatic herb that truly reminds me of the summer season to come. This variety is excellent when used to make flavorful salad dressings, enjoyed over freshly grilled fish or cooked mussels, when added to a basil coconut curry soup, or in an array of Thai inspired dishes such as Pad Thai.
While the stems and flowers are indeed edible, it is the leaves that are the most desirable culinary portion. Thai basil is recognized by its petite leaves with a variegated green and purple hue. I find basil is best when added just before serving for optimum flavor.
Basil averages $2.50 per bunch
Green spring zucchini
The season’s first harvest of fresh zucchini is always the best, as tender and flavorful as it gets. You can find fresh zucchini at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Sunday Camino Real, Tuesday Santa Barbara and Thursday Carpinteria farmers’ markets from several local growers.
The early green zucchini harvest averages about 6-8 inches in length. This member of the melon family is excellent when enjoyed raw or cooked; whether sautéed, roasted, steamed or grilled.
Zucchini is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin’s C, K and B6, as well as riboflavin, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
Price for the young early harvest is about $4 per pound, but expect prices to decrease as we head deeper into the season. Certified organic is available.
Hydroponic Persian cucumbers
Crisp, mildly sweet and juicy, Persian cucumbers are one of the tastiest varieties in existence. My kids absolutely love to eat them as a healthy snack, either just as they come, or sliced and used to dip into hummus.
I most regularly add Persian cucumbers to mixed green salads, or into my homemade spicy tuna rolls. With very thin skins and super soft seeds, there is no peeling or seed removal needed.
Grown hydroponically by the Beylik Family Farm of Fillmore, instead of being grown in soil, they are produced in greenhouses in a nutrient-infused water system, yielding a very clean product.
Persian cucumbers are available at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Carpintera and Friday Montecito farmers’ markets. Price averages $4 per pound.