Whether used to flavor water or a mojito, spring rolls or a stir-fry, or even a spring or summer salad, fresh mint is one of the most refreshing herbs around. The leaves are heartier than those of other herbs, so they should be finely chopped when added to raw preparations. In keeping with the feel of spring, I incorporated mint into a Fresh Herb and Citrus White Bean Salad, the Fix of the Week on page A7. Grown by a number of local farmers, fresh mint can be found at all Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets. Certified organic available. About $1.50 per bunch.
A couple of weeks ago, small artichokes entered the market that are ideal for consuming whole — leaves and all. The next wave to arrive is this large variety, which is typically steamed and enjoyed one leaf at a time before getting to the prized center: the heart. Some people like to dip the leaves in melted butter, while others prefer an aioli; I enjoy them just as they come or with a dab of hot sauce. If you are thinking about grilling these artichokes, be sure to steam them first until just tender before finishing them on the grill. Available from a number of growers at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Carpinteria, Friday Montecito and Saturday Santa Barbara markets. About $4 each.
Mixed dried fruit
This bag contains diced dried apples, peaches, apricots and plums, which is perfect for making your own trail mix, enjoying as is as a snack, or using to top yogurt, cottage cheese or mixed green salads. It is produced from Avila and Sons Farm’s summer fruit harvest. Available in regular or natural (no sulfur added) packs. You can find this dried fruit mix at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang and Saturday Santa Barbara markets. $7 per half-pound bag.