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It doesn’t take much to make fresh tomatoes taste great

By: Carol Arnold, general manager, Foothill Farmers' Market Association
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Let’s start with some shameless lobbying. American Farmland Trust, the group that coined the slogan, “No Farms, No Food,” sponsors a contest every year to determine America’s favorite farmers’ market. Knowing we have the finest produce and the most beautiful market, we entered Auburn Old Town Market into the contest. To cast your vote in support of local farms and their farmers’ market, simply visit the website www.americanfarmlandtrust.org/vote and enter our zip code, 95603. Scroll down a bit, select our market, and follow the directions on the web site. The quality of our farms and ranches is showcased at our farmers’ markets; this is our chance to show the nation just how special they are. Please cast your vote to spread the word; the beautiful, vibrant Auburn Old Town Market is the best farmers’ market in America. On to lovely summer farmers’ markets. All 11 of our markets are open providing our communities a long-awaited wide variety of fresh, local produce. Peaches so sweet they make you want to laugh and cry, plums and pluots that will take you back to your childhood, giant blackberries, beautiful raspberries, deep blue blueberries and lively nectarines are widely available fruits. I even saw gravenstein apples at Beauty Ranch’s stall on Saturday. Bright green long beans, crunchy green beans, vibrant summer squash, decadent melons, Italian frying peppers, Hungarian sweet peppers, spicy jalapenos, beautiful bell peppers and finally, last but not least, tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors (hold that thought) are some of the veggies in season. I don’t know what it is about anticipating the arrival of tomatoes into the market, but there has been a growing sense of expectancy for about a month. Farmers reporting on their tomato crop each week, customers asking “are they here yet” with growing urgency. There has been a low frequency tomato buzz at the markets! Tomatoes started arriving about two weeks ago and I must say it was just in the nick of time. Whether they are Uncle Raymond, Fourth of July, Early Girl, Big Beef, or Juliets, the tomatoes are here at last. Believe it or not, you could feel the excitement at the market. In the past I was exempt, not exactly loving fresh tomatoes, but now, converted by the taste of vine ripened, fresh picked, locally produced red orbs, even I am a victim of tomato mania. Now that they are ripe, what are we to do with them? Sliced tomatoes with burrata cheese, fresh basil and olive oil make an updated, upscale caprese salad. Roasted Juliets, tossed with pasta, shrimp and vodka tomato sauce make a lovely summer supper. And today’s recipe for broiled, sliced, tomatoes, is easy, simple and highlights the rich, full flavor of the tomato. From the time you start reading the recipe, it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity — the key to success when preparing this flavorful dish is to use fresh picked local tomatoes and herbs. Nothing else will do. Looking for produce mid-week? Visit the DeWitt Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. With a wide variety of produce and a laid-back atmosphere, this market is the antidote for the grocery store experience. Happy summer! Carol Arnold is general manager of the Foothill Farmers Market Association. Reach her at foothillfarmersmarket@gmail.com.