Farm-fresh simple summer eats

We asked New England farmers what they do when the season’s bounty starts to roll in. Their message: When cooking with ingredients grown nearby and picked ripe, simpler is always better.

Pulled pork sandwiches with spicy slaw. Pulled pork sandwiches with spicy slaw. (Photograph by Jim Scherer; Styling by Catrine Kelty)
By Amy Levin-Epstein
June 6, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Farmer Dave’s Greek Salad Serves 6 to 8

“Farmer Dave” Dumaresq of Farmer Dave’s in Dracut sells his produce at his Brox Farm Stand in Dracut and at his East Street Farm Stand in Tewksbury and through a farm share program. He brought this recipe back from a high school trip to Greece.

8 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

1 green bell pepper, chopped

½ red onion, sliced

½ cup cubed feta cheese

16 Kalamata olives

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, minced

Salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Taste, adjust oil and seasonings as needed, then serve.

Simple Tomato Sandwich Serves 2

Tomatoes, beans, and dozens of other fruits and vegetables from George Hall Farm are sold at a stand on the farm in Simsbury, Connecticut, and at other stands in New Haven, West Hartford, Simsbury, and Naugatuck, and through a farm share program. This recipe comes from George Hall Sr.

4 thin slices rye bread

4 to 6 slices heirloom tomato

2 or 3 thin slices sweet onion

2 or 3 thin slices pickling cucumber

Salt and pepper

Using 2 slices bread for each sandwich, place some tomato, onion, and cucumber on bread, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.

Grilled Sweet-Corn Salsa Serves 6

At Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield, Dom Palumbo raises cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and goats along with 150 varieties of heirloom vegetables. This recipe was invented with a friend of his, Jeremy Stanton of Fire Roasted Catering in Great Barrington. Serve the salsa with steak or chicken, in burritos, or with chips.

4 ears corn

1 large tomato, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

5 sprigs of cilantro, leaves only, chopped for garnish

Start a grill. Husk the corn, leaving the innermost few leaves on cob. When the coals are glowing, put the corn on the grill, rotating the cobs as the leaves begin to blacken, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the intensity of the fire (about a quarter of the kernels should be blackened). Remove the inner leaves, and, working over a medium bowl, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off each cob, then run the back of the knife down each cob to extract the juices. Add the tomato, scallions, and oil, and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with the cilantro, and serve.

Grilled Oysters Serves 6 to 8

You’ll find Watch Hill Oysters, from Westerly, Rhode Island, served at many local restaurants – Captain Marden’s in Wellesley, Neptune Oyster and several other places in Boston, Central Kitchen and Craigie on Main in Cambridge, and The Fireplace Restaurant in Brookline – but farmer Jeffrey Gardner’s favorite way to eat them is grilled in his own backyard.

½ stick butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

Dash of cayenne pepper, if desired

Juice from ½ lemon, if desired

2 dozen raw oysters, washed but unopened

Start a grill. In a small pan, melt the butter with the garlic, then off heat add the cayenne and lemon juice, if using. When the coals are glowing, place the oysters on the grill (do not cover). When the shells start to open, after 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill, remove with tongs to a plate. Wearing a glove to protect your hand, open each oyster with a butter knife, removing top shell and loosening each oyster from the bottom shell, being careful not to lose the liquor. Drizzle lightly with garlic butter and serve.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches With Spicy Slaw Serves 12

Andrew and Diana Rodgers and their 6-year-old son, Anson, and 4-year-old daughter, Phoebe, all work on Green Meadows Farm in South Hamilton. They raise vegetables and livestock, including 16 pigs foraging on a 2-acre patch of forest.

For the pulled pork

3 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons sea salt

1 5-pound pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt

12 hamburger buns, for serving

Mix the spices and salt together in a small bowl, then rub the spice blend over the pork, cover, and let stand for at least 1 hour and up to overnight in the refrigerator. (In the meantime, prepare the sauce; see next recipe.)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the pork in a roasting pan and bake, covered, until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees, about 6 hours. Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a large platter and let rest for 10 minutes. While still warm, use two forks to shred the pork. Put the shredded pork in a bowl, add barbecue sauce, and mix well to coat. To serve, place several ounces of pork on a hamburger bun and top with Spicy Slaw (below).

For the barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup hot water

1½ cups apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small saucepan, stir the brown sugar into the hot water until completely dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat for approximately 5 minutes.

For the slaw

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons sugar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon hot chili sauce

2 pounds napa cabbage, thinly sliced (12 cups)

¾ pound red cabbage, thinly sliced (3 cups)

3 medium carrots, julienned

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

½ bunch mint, leaves chopped

Salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter with the lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, garlic, and chili sauce. In a large bowl, mix the napa and red cabbages with the carrots, bell pepper, cilantro, and mint. Toss the salad with the dressing, and season with salt and black pepper.

Summer Veggie Chili Serves 6

Jarrett Man grows 40 varieties of hot peppers at Stone Soup Farm in Belchertown, which hosts an annual “Chilifest” celebration.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and minced

10 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced

3 teaspoons cumin

4 teaspoons chili powder

Salt and black pepper

2 16-ounce cans black beans

1 large bell pepper, chopped

2 jalapenos or other hot peppers, minced

2 to 3 ears corn, kernels cut off

½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

1/3 bunch oregano, leaves chopped

½ cup grated cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder, along with salt and black pepper to taste, and cook on high heat until the tomatoes fall apart and become very juicy, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomato mixture starts to thicken, about 45 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except garnish) and cook until warmed through, another 15 minutes. Sprinkle each portion with cheddar cheese.

Grandma’s Dutch Apple Torte Serves 8

Bill Suhr of Champlain Orchards grows 40 varieties of apples on 130 acres in Shoreham, Vermont. This recipe originated with his grandmother, who lived on Cape Cod. In summer, the family makes the recipe with peaches, plums, or blueberries in place of the apples, adding a tablespoon of cornstarch to the fruit.

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons sugar

2½ tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

8 to 10 baking apples, such as McIntosh, Cortland, or Empire, peeled and sliced

¼ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Cut in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter with a pastry blender. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, vanilla, and milk with a fork. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring minimally and just until dough barely holds together. With floured hands, press crust into lightly buttered 9-inch glass pie plate.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with sugar and cinnamon. Mound apples into crust and dot with butter. Sprinkle apples and edges of crust with sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Cover top with foil if it is browning too quickly. Cool before serving with vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Compote Serves 6

Mimi Arnstein grows more than 40 kinds of vegetables on 5-acre Wellspring Farm in Marshfield, Vermont. The recipe she shares here was developed by chef Tom Bivins of the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, which brings students to the farm for tours and demonstrations.

4 cups strawberries

½ stick of cinnamon

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 scrape of whole nutmeg or dash of ground nutmeg

2 cups orange juice

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the fruit begins to break down, 5 to 8 minutes (you can help it along at the end with a masher). Cool slightly, and then spoon over ice cream, cheese blintzes, crepes, pancakes, yogurt, or granola.

Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer. Send comments to