The heirloom strawberry varieties grown by our local farms produce juicy, flavorful berries that are what grocery store strawberries just dream of being. Granted, our local strawberries have it a bit easier because they don’t have to endure the extra handling and transportation, which is why farmers are able to choose delicate and delicious varieties like Honeoye, Darselect, Seascape, and Jewel.
Check the farm stands and farmers markets, keep your eyes peeled at the Co-op, and don’t let summer pass without tasting these local delicacies. Fruit, even in summer, is quite a treat for Montanans, so hats off to Katie and Andy Russo of TerraWorks and Jacy and Matt Rothschiller of Gallatin Valley Botanical, who also offer U-Pick in their fields.
DRAGON’S TONGUE BEANS
Creamy yellow pods streaked with purple, Dragon’s Tongue beans are as delicious as they are beautiful. Gardeners love them because they are vigorous, and if you don’t have much space, you can even grow them in a large pot. The pods are delicious, so even though this is a shelling bean, eat the whole thing as you would a snap bean, before the beans mature. Just try not to eat them all fresh out of your basket or you won’t have any left to cook for dinner.
Enjoy their purple beauty while you are prepping them, as the hue does fade when cooked. Use Dragon’s Tongue beans as you would any summer green or wax bean: Leave them whole or snap into pieces and just barely cook so they retain a bit of crunch. If you feel like stashing some in your freezer for winter, blanch the whole pods a minute or two, shock in ice water, lift out, dry, then put into freezer containers. If you want them to stay individual, lay them out on a sheet pan and freeze that way for a bit before transferring to the storage containers.
A favorite herb of chefs and Francophiles, tarragon brings a fresh, licorice- like fl avor to the kitchen. Pick the long, slender leaves from the stems and chop or tear them a bit smaller, then add to a quick sauté of fresh vegetables like our Summer Succotash on page 25. Th e quasi-hollandaise Tarragon Sauce recipe at left uses olive oil instead of butter. It’s lovely drizzled over a plate of barely blanched asparagus and soft-cooked eggs for brunch outside on the deck.
Dan Moore from Terra Greens will be growing tarragon this summer, so when you see him at the farmers market, say “Hi” and buy a bundle. You can always use it to make salad dressings more summery, from ranch or green goddess to vinaigrette.