Now that the Dallas Farmers Market is under heavy construction, you might easily think of skipping it this summer and waiting until the new market is completed at some point next year. Despite the large (and rather dangerous-looking) construction pit situated in what used to be the walkway between the sheds that housed produce, Pecan Lodge and other market goodies, much deliciousness is still to be found at this downtown market.
As you wait for the renovations of the market, which will eventually house both restaurants and vendors of produce and artisanal goods, the selection they’ve managed to cram into “The Shed” is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that this time last year, they were offering more than twice the number of vendors, most of whom were wholesale produce dealers. Now, though, the goods at the Dallas Farmers Market are all local, and these are some of the best.
These fruits that masquerade as vegetables are easily one of the highlights of the summer growing season, and the selection of heirloom tomatoes grown in Canton at Lemley Farms was full of vine-ripened goodness. The baskets here were overflowing with perfectly ripe tomatoes that were worthy of eating on their own, sprinkled with a bit of salt. Pro-tip: Ask the folks behind the booth for a basket of banged-up tomatoes and grab a few pounds to make a fresh pasta sauce at home.
Tis the season for fresh, hopefully fried okra, and now seems like particularly good timing considering its place in trendy Southern cuisine. This time of year, the love-it-or-hate-it veg starts to crop up all over Dallas menus, and it’s high time you try some of these recipes at home. At $3 for a basket that would easily feed three or four people, this locally raised okra is a bargain compared with the puny clam shells that run upwards of $5 at places like Whole Foods.
May and June are generally the best months of the year to enjoy Texas peaches, but thanks to all that insane weather we had earlier this year, the crop is still going strong. These peaches, grown at Winona Orchards in East Texas, were impossibly fresh and free of genetically modified organisms. Whether or not you believe in the dangers of GMO produce, we can all agree that fresh peaches straight from the farm are superior to their supermarket counterparts.
Summer squash is a staple this time of year, but it’s easy to get bored with the familiar Italian zucchini or yellow crook-neck squash. Substitute your usual boring and bland squash with golden zucchini, grown fresh at Baugh Farms in Canton. The color of this zucchini is more vibrant than its crook-neck counterpart and has a flavor that is more zucchini-y than the stuff you’re used to. Sauté it simply at home for a perfect summer side.
Several pickle vendors operate at the Dallas Farmers Market, and they are all great. The real standout, though, is T-Rex Pickles. There’s always a constantly rotating selection of pickles here, canned with the freshest in-season produce and spiced with herbs such as lemongrass, thyme and juniper berries. To round out these complex flavor profiles, T-Rex Pickles adds locally brewed Four Corners Beer, which imparts a unique flavor to the average pickle. The spicy green beans, pickled smoked jalapeños and lemon-thyme dill pickles are can’t-miss.
East Texas Veggies & Fruit
This booth, located on the left side of the shed, is one of the most well-stocked at the market. It features a wide variety of produce — from Vidalia onions to baby eggplants — sourced from farms across East Texas. You can probably do most of your grocery shopping here, at least everything you’ll need from the veggie aisles, at prices that are strikingly comparable to those at even the less-expensive grocery stores.
Also a Southern delicacy, fresh purple hull, lady cream and crowder peas are an excellent addition to your summer menu. These creamy, buttery peas taste nothing like those crappy green impostors that come in the can and are incredible after simmering in the crock pot all day with a smoked turkey wing or ham hock. You can pick out the right quantity for your family, or stock up on extras to freeze for the summer.
If you’ve picked up a watermelon from the supermarket lately, you’ve probably been sorely disappointed.The quality of watermelons seems to have degraded over the years, as genetically modified seedless varieties dominate the market. At the farmers market, you’ll find good ol’ seeded watermelons, many of which are so massive and ripe that they’re practically bursting. Also grown on Baugh Farms in Wills Point, these melons may seem expensive at $10 each when compared with rock-bottom grocery store prices, but the flavor is oh-so-worth-it.