by Roxanne Garcia
In my opinion, summer’s best is the trifecta of local produce and that is corn, tomatoes and chile. Sweet corn can be eaten right off the cob, grilled, boiled and shucked. Tomatoes eaten just fresh from the vine, sliced on a sandwich, diced for brushetta, or blanched for that incredible homemade tomato sauce. And chile, of course I would endorse chile afterall I grew up on a chile farm in New Mexico. For the last 4 years the Tucson Farmers’ Market have celebrated the bounty of produce that nature has given us. In July we celebrated the Tomato, Garlic & Basil Festival and in the upcoming months be sure to look for our Corn Festival in August and our Chile Festival in September. We celebrate these vegetables because not only are the vegetables bountiful during those months but also as a celebration of the seasonal eating. Corn, tomatoes and chile can be enjoyed with simplicity now more than at any other time of the year, because there is no substitute for their incredible flavors when they are picked at their peak.
CORN Harvest season for farm-fresh corn is late July to late August.As soon as the corn is picked, the sugar in the kernels begins to convert to starch. To store fresh corn leave the husks on, wrap loose in damp paper towels and keep in refrigerator.
TOMATOES Come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors; There should be no soft spots on the skin and the tomato should smell like a tomato (generally the commercial tomatoes don’t have a smell because they were picked green and then shipped thousands of miles). Choose tomatoes that have a deep rich color. Tomatoes should be well shaped and smooth skinned with no bruises or soft They should not have a puffy appearance. Ripe tomatoes will yield to slight pressure and have a noticeably sweet fragrance. Since tomatoes are sensitive to cold, do not put them in the refrigerator, store them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. They should keep up to a week, depending on how ripe they were when they were purchased.
CHILE Late July to late September is the season for fresh green chiles ~ Let me introduce you to a beloved friend of mine; the delicious green chile of the late summer. Late summer is chile roasting time with the air filled with that delicious scent of roasted green chiles. But what do you do with these lovely gems? Whether it’s Hatch green chiles or Anaheim peppers the basic principle is the same. You can roast the chiles yourself over a grill or under the broiler. If you choose to purchase them roasted for you, take them home and either store them in the freezer or take them out and peel off the roasted skin, leaving you with a lovely green chile ready to eat. Green chile enchilada or fresh salsa, anyone?