The minute you get home from the farmers market, get a pot of boiling water going because tonight's dinner is going to feature whatever's in your farmers market haul. Start with your of-the-moment veggies and fragrant herbs, dress them up in a buttery white wine sauce and grated Parm, and set the table because dinner is pretty much ready. You're going to want to keep this veggie-filled pasta template in your back pocket all summer long because it's one of our favorite quick and reliable solutions for turning a trip to the farmers market into dinner.
Here's What to Pick Up at the Farmers Market
You can pick up nearly everything for this dish from the market. Look for garlic, eggplant, summer squash, corn, tomatoes, carrots, and basil. Depending on your market you might even be able to get the Parmesan cheese. The remaining few ingredients are all pantry staples that you likely already have at home. A variety of vegetables will not only make for a more colorful bowl of pasta, but it also changes up the texture, which makes dinner more interesting.
- Summer squash
- Any herb
The basic template for farmers market pasta:
3 or more veggies from the list above + pasta of any shape + a go-with-anything white wine sauce
Can't find something on the list of ingredients, or spot something different at the market that's too good to pass up? No problem! This pasta is a template rather than a recipe, so revisions are encouraged. It's more important to pay attention to the building blocks you need to make it.
How to Pick the Best Eggplant
The best way to be sure you're bringing home a really great eggplant is by examining the size, weight, and color. Look for a small to medium eggplant (the larger ones are typically more bitter) that feels firm and heavy for its size. Choose one whose skin is taut, vivid, and shiny, which are all indicators of freshness. Avoid eggplants that have any bruising or discoloration. Also, take note of the eggplant's stem — it should be green, not brown or dried out, and free of any mold or decay.
Always Buy Fresh Herbs at the Farmers Market!
PSA: Do not leave the farmers market without a bunch of fresh herbs (any type of herb!) in your tote! Not only are they stocked in abundance and totally inexpensive right now, but it's also a small addition that makes such a big difference in just about any recipe.
The 3-Ingredient Sauce for Your Summer Pasta
To highlight the simplicity and freshness of the vegetables and herbs, the pasta is finished with a light, bright sauce that comes together in about three minutes. It starts with white wine for a pop of acidity, then it's bolstered with a couple pats of butter and starchy pasta water. While any type of white wine will work, something dry like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio is always a good choice. Freshly grated Parmesan is stirred in just before serving, which garnishes the pasta and helps to thicken the sauce.
To salt or not to salt: The Ancient Eggplant Debate: Should You Salt Your Eggplant?
Farmers Market Pasta Dinner
8 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped plum tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
Kernels from 1 ear corn
2 medium carrots, peeled and shaved into ribbons
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes, or according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and set it aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the eggplant, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the corn, carrots, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and reserved garlic. Cook 1 minute more.
Add the wine and simmer until reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water and butter, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, then toss to coat with the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and basil.
Divide among bowls or plates, top with additional cheese if desired, and serve warm.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Farmers Market Suppers
Shopping the farmers market for seasonal veggies and herbs is one of the greatest joys of summer. It's so easy to get excited by all the fresh produce of the moment and fill a tote with a little bit of everything. If you don't have a plan, figuring out what to do with your haul once you get home can feel a little overwhelming. This series will help change that. We're sharing five versatile and delicious templates that will teach you how to turn any farmers market purchase into dinner.
These photos were shot at The Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market in Flemington, New Jersey.