christmas in july.

Look at the wonderful bounty of fresh, naturally grown fruits and vegetables I received yesterday from Turtle Bend Farm!!!  It really does feel like Christmas in July.  So many bright colors and delicious treats harvested from the earth by Adam Lowe in Rockmart, Georgia.  I feel giddy from all the goodness.

Back in my teaching days, I would dread Sundays.  It meant long hours of lesson planning and saying goodbye to a weekend that had zoomed by way too quickly, and hello to much stress.  Now, my Sundays are fun days!  I get so excited about going to the Grant Park Farmer’s Market each week to mill about with my honey and enjoy the fresh offerings of many happy vendors, like the one below, before grabbing my huge bag of goodies from the Lowes.

Over July fourth weekend, my mom joined us for our trip to the market.  There was a parade (festive, but fast!),

and a giant peach entertaining the likes of this small caped boy.

Adam made a festive strawberry cheesecake with blueberry and strawberry sauces that day to share with friends and family.

And we enjoyed the fruits of our labor (in red white and blue, of course!).

This week at the market, I found myself enamored again.  I feel like some sort of saleswoman, bragging about this market, but it’s my job to share my adventures in food, and Sundays in Grant Park never disappoint.

There is a mobile pizza joint, pumping out fresh pies each week. 

the freshest greens,

millions of peaches,

crepes made to order for breakfast,

and the new love of my life.

I cannot resist their amazing breads,

baked goods,

and pastries.

Those are mini foccacias topped with peach and basil.  Delectable!

Our most recent obsession is with these 2 crazy cats.

Well, not really with them, but with their locally made yogurt.  Atlanta Fresh: Yogurt and Cheese.  Holy cow.  Literally, their cows must be holy. 

The yogurt they make is so fresh, creamy, and delicious, it’s almost unbelievable.  And when I learned I would be receiving loads of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes in my CSA bag, my mind went immediately to Grilled Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki sauce, made from the best yogurt I have ever gotten my hands on.

To boot, we made an incredible “Christmas in July Salad” of watermelon, feta and cucumber with Georgia Vidalia Peppercorn Dressing.  Hold on to your hats.  Deliciousness coming your way.

We started by making a marinade for our chicken, which I cut into hearty chunks.

Simple- juice of a lemon, a pinch of dried oregano, small handful of parsley leaves, a few cloves of garlic, quartered, a glug of champagne vinegar, and some EVOO.

I recommend letting your chicken marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile we started working on our salad. 

First, we dropped a small handful of black peppercorns into 1/4 Cup of EVOO. 

We let that sit on the stove over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, allowing the pepper to infuse the oil.  Then, we strained the oil and let it cool.

I sliced half a vidalia onion and peeled stripes into my Turtle Bend cucumber, seeded it, and cut it into half moons.

We used half of the melon and a melon baller, picking out the black seeds as we went along.  We worked over a bowl to collect the juices of the watermelon.  (Smart thinkin’, eh?)  2 small cloves of garlic were peeled and a lemon was ready to be juiced.

The salad looked beautiful with very little effort.

Red, green and white…That’s about 1/4 Cup of crumbled feta cheese.

We went to work on the dressing.  I wanted to caramelize the onions some, so I got them into a pan with a little bit of EVOO

and let them slowly become sweet and luscious over medium low heat for about 20 minutes.

We let them cool a bit, and then we built our dressing.

Although we had taken honey out of the pantry to utilize as a sweetener in this dressing, we didn’t need it after all.  There was enough juice from the watermelon to sweeten it naturally.  We kept the ingredients simple so the local watermelon and cukes could shine through.

1/2 a vidalia onion, caramelized

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic

2 T watermelon juice

1 T water

juice of half a lemon

2 T champagne vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

I employed my immersion blender to build the dressing in a tall cup.  Once the ingredients had come together, I streamed in the pepper infused oil while I blended.  Oh, the result was spectacular!  Tangy, sweet, peppery, and light.

I just tossed the salad with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing.  Yummmmmy.

Time to build the tzatziki sauce.

I started with 1 Cup of 2% Greek yogurt and added 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise.  Then, I peeled my cucumber and cut it in half.  I chopped one half and grated the other.  Then, we pressed the garlic, and added a pinch of dried oregano, about a Tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley, and the juice of half a lemon.

A little salt and pepper, and a little mixing.  Voila!  Perfection.

I told my husband that if he couldn’t find me in the middle of the night, not to worry- that I was probably just eating the tzatziki sauce with a spoon.  This stuff was no joke. 

The grill was heating up, so we skewered our chicken and a bunch of grape tomatoes.

And we grilled them in just a few minutes’ time until they reached 165 degrees.

The fixins were all set too.

Lastly, we grilled the flat bread quickly on each side

and began to build.

A little sauce on the bottom, lettuce, chicken, grilled tomatoes, feta, and more of the silky tzatziki on top.  Then, we rolled her up in foil, spooned some salad onto the plate and marveled at the beauty…

Just for a second, because then, it was time to enjoy every tasty layer of freshness in this meal.  Tangy, sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, summery.  Wonderful. 

The joy that I am experiencing these days is almost explosive (in a good way).  I am so fortunate to have access to the freshest seasonal ingredients, and I am having a ball highlighting their respective powers in all manners possible.   I am bringing fresh food into the homes of fabulous clients, new and long-standing, who are thrilled about dinner time and the changes in their lives.  Being a food fairy is a super fun and rewarding job.

I hope that you are embracing the bounty of the season too, slurping the juices from ripe fruits, and tenderly handling the brightness of summer veggies to bring a party of color and flavor to your dinner table.  Test out that Christmas in July salad and light up the faces of those you love.

Happy cooking and summer time eating to you.


Comment w/ Facebook

  1. […] pulls one from the archives of last year’s CSA share to give us a creative and delicious Watermelon Salad Recipe.  You can scroll down to the recipe, or enjoy her story of a farmers market visit from one year […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *