April Steinert is a Massachusetts native who currently resides in Laguna Beach, Calif., with her husband, three children, and two dogs. She’s a frequent visitor to the Island, and a trained chef who enjoys blogging (victusandvinous.com), writing for her local paper (stunewslaguna.com), and feeding people. Her heart will always remain in Massachusetts (Free Brady!), and this week she shares with us her appreciation for the Island’s rich farms.
The waterfowl of Farm Pond have been our alarm clock these past several days. My family and I have been renting a home built in 1900 with an unobstructed view of the pond and the Nantucket Sound and beyond. Early mornings have found us on the wraparound front porch, steaming cups of coffee in hand, dogs snoozing by our side, while we sit quietly and watch the pond’s feathered friends perform for us. It’s how we’d like to begin every day of our lives, but alas, we have only one more week on Martha’s Vineyard, and we’re trying to make the most of it.
As a mainlander, I still recall how amazed I was when I learned of the bevy of farms situated on this petite paradise. Despite its small size (the Island is roughly 20 miles long and nine miles wide), it’s home to three dozen produce farms (several with meat and dairy), and nine shellfish farms. It’s truly remarkable.
Given the abundance of local resources, my goal this trip has been to hit as many of the farms as possible, and I’m happy to report that I’ve made a sizable dent so far. The only downside to having so many beautiful and quaint farms at your disposal is that someone (like me) might tend to overbuy. Every piece of produce looks so gorgeous that I have a hard time walking away. A few days ago I picked up way too many ears of fresh corn (they were just picked, so who could blame me?), and I’m still trying to use up all those beautiful kernels. I’ve put them in salads, on crostinis, in salsas, inside omelets; you name it, I’ve put corn in or on it.
Most Islanders are familiar with the abundant West Tisbury Farmers Market at the Grange Hall, which is held every Wednesday and Saturday from June until October (Wednesdays are from June until late August). I’ve made several trips these past two weeks, and have loaded up on a menagerie of artisanal items. You can find blended teas, products made with lavender, soaps, salves, sea salt, herbs, orchids, pies, locally farmed meat, eggs, Island-made cheeses, and oh so much more. It’s so impressive how many talented individuals can live on one small island.
It being summer on the Vineyard, we have have hosted countless guests, and have had a full house the entire time we’ve been here. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen. I love to feed people, so I’m not complaining, but the name of the game these days is fast and fresh.
After perusing the market this past Saturday, I came home with some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, just-picked peaches, fromage frais (a soft creamy cheese, and my latest obsession), freshly laid eggs, basil, bread, sweet Italian sausage, herbs. Many of the ingredients yielded a great lunch idea for my hungry crowd.
If you’re looking for a fast, nutritious, juicy, wake-up-your-mouth kind of thing, this crostini is right up your alley. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare 10 to 12 crostinis (depending on prefered bread thickness):
1 loaf of fresh bread
1 large heirloom tomato
2 ripe peaches
1 jar of fromage frais
Sea salt to taste
Julienned basil to garnish
Slice your bread thick enough that it can hold a spoonful of delicious topping without giving way. Lightly toast and let cool.
Dice your heirloom tomato and peaches and place in a bowl. If you have any leftover when you’re done feeding the crowd, pop them into the fridge for those late-night feeding frenzies. Or you could use it later as a salad (I’d recommend adding burrata or goat cheese and some greens).
Back to the crostini: Spread fromage frais on the toasted bread, then spoon a bit of the tomato and peach mixture on top, sprinkle on some sea salt, and garnish with a chiffonade (fancy word for julienne) of fresh basil. So easy and tasty.
Alongside the crostinis I also served a frittata and some sweet Italian sausage patties.
Here’s the recipe for that:
1 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 small waxy potatoes (I used red), diced very small
1½ tsp. sea salt (sprinkle on some finishing salt at the end of cooking)
2 baby leeks (white and light green parts only), washed and minced
10 farm-fresh eggs
1½ tsp. fresh minced oregano
Fresh goat cheese
Preheat your oven to 350℉. Pour EVOO into a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet, and heat the oil until it’s shimmering (it begins to ripple/shimmer before hitting its smoke point). Add the potatoes and ½ tsp. of salt. Sauté on medium heat until almost cooked through. Add the baby leeks and cook until soft and fragrant.
Whisk your eggs vigorously in a large bowl until they’re almost frothy. Add the minced oregano and 1 tsp. of salt. Slowly pour the eggs into the skillet with the potatoes and leeks. Dot the top with some goat cheese (the amount is up to you). Cook on medium heat until you see the edges begin to set. Pop the pan into the oven until the frittata is fully set through to the middle. If you’re unsure if it’s done, push lightly on the middle of the frittata. It should be soft, but not liquid-y.
And every ingredient came from the West Tisbury Farmers Market. How cool is that? If you haven’t had a chance to take advantage of the Farmers Market offerings this season, I highly recommend it; I will surely miss it when I’m gone.