In order to get the low-down on seasonal produce perfect for our Independence Day cookouts, we caught up with a few farmer’s market professionals who know better than anyone what’s fresh and delicious in Southwest Florida this time of year.
First, we spoke with Jann Hoskins of Jann’s Produce, who has been selling at the downtown Naples Farmers Market on 3rd street for 16 years.
So what’s this honorable expert’s favorite-ever vegetable? “Bloody Marys,” she said, laughing. We can’t disagree with her on this point, but she added a few more to the list. “Right now, cucumber is delicious, so is corn, cubanelle peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash,” she tells us. For grilling, “everyone loves the bell peppers for the color.”
“Tomatoes are always the number one seller,” Eldridge Rolle, owner of Eldridge’s Produce, tells us. Their produce comes from Immokalee and Clewiston, North Florida, and Georgia – all within the realm of local.
Right now, the best fruits of the season are watermelon, cantaloupes, and mangoes. “Watermelons go like hot cakes, so we bring a lot,” Nikki Matthews told us, while helping Eldridge at their Downtown Naples Farmers’ Market tables.
Your July 4th farmers market picks will definitely rev up this year’s barbeque. You’ll be supporting local business while eating fresher, healthier produce. And try a smoky, rich take on the traditional fruit salad recipe with the option below…
Grilled Watermelon Salad
Grilled…watermelon? Yeah, you read that right. Although this recipe works well even if you don’t have access to a grill, it’s enhanced by the smokiness.
- Preheat the grill to high. Slice watermelon ½ inch thick, and pat with paper towel to dry slightly.
- Season with salt and pepper, then brush with olive oil.
- Sear on each side for a minute and a half until grill marks appear.
- Plate, top with crumbled goat cheese, blackberries, and shredded basil. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.
More healthy recipes for Independence Day…