What's in season: The freshest tastes of summer

(Credit: Urbanite)

Chanterelle's David Waltuck picks fresh strawberries at the Union Square Greenmarket. Photos: Marie Claire Andrea

By Ben Muessig

Special to amNewYork

Preparing the perfect early summer meal is easy: Just let the produce do all the work.

That’s what chef David Waltuck — the man behind acclaimed TriBeCa eatery Chanterelle — suggested during a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket last week.

“For a simple meal, I’d just roast a chicken and let the vegetables do their thing,” said Waltuck, whose Harrison Street upscale French eatery is known for its ever-changing menu.

Here are some of his tips for your next visit to a farmers market:

Garlic scapes

$6 per bunch

Scapes are an often-overlooked part of the garlic plant that can add some zest to sauces, stir fries and sautes.

More subtle in flavor than garlic bulbs, these tender curling stalks are a late spring and early summer favorite at many upscale eateries.

Waltuck suggested dicing them and serving them in a saute with tomatoes, olive oil, a splash of chicken stock and duck fat.

Garlic scapes are also a popular addition to pesto sauces.

Fava beans

$4 per pound

Fava beans are a health food staple and a gourmet standard.

“To me, fava beans really say springtime,” Waltuck said. “You can open them up and blanch them, or just eat them raw with a little salt.”

Try making a fava bean puree or serving the legumes — which are low in calories and high in protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C — in a medley with other seasonal veggies such as sugar snap peas, baby carrots and ramps.

Nasturtiums

$4.50 per plant

Many varieties of edible flowers can add color to your dishes, but only nasturtiums can add flavor, according to Waltuck.

“A lot of people use edible flowers in salads, but these are the only ones that actually taste good,” he noted.

But the bright orange flowers aren’t the only delicious part of this plant — the green leaves can add a peppery kick to salads.

Strawberries

$3 per pint

Locally grown strawberries are in peak season, and these vitamin-C packed fruits are the perfect way to cap off a meal at home.

“I like to eat them raw, but you could always make an ice cream or sorbet,” suggested Waltuck.

Tags: david waltuck , chanterelle , strawberries , fava beans , nasturtiums , garlic scapes , food

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