Admission to the Union: December 18, 1787
Oh my beloved home state! Obviously it was not hard for me to come up with many many things associated with New Jersey since it’s where I grew up, my boyfriend grew up and a place that I love. Now I could spend some time explaining to you that New Jersey is absolutely nothing like you see on Jersey Shore or the Real Housewives, but if I really need to tell you that, you’re an a**hole and I’d rather you not be reading my blog anyway.
There were so many foods from my childhood that came to mind when I thought of a culinary homage to New Jersey. There was pizza and other Italian-American foods, diner grub, Jewish delis, sub shops, salt water taffy, fat sandwiches and so much more. And of course, there is our abundance of local produce.
I struggled to come up with one meal, when my brilliant boyfriend suggested I do multiple meals! Yes! (Of course he’s brills, he is from Jersey)
Here is something you might not know about Jersey if you’re not from the Northeast; agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry. New Jersey is a top producer of berries (especially blueberries), eggplant, herbs and many other fruits and veggies. Jersey tomatoes are generally considered the best in the country and, this time of year, every New Jersey kid craves Jersey sweet corn.
Though the farmers markets I go to in New York City do have vendors from Connecticut, Upstate New York and occasionally Pennsylvania; but the majority of stands are from New Jersey. So how could I not make a delicious Farmers Market Salad for my first Jersey meal?
Of course tomatoes and sweetcorn would need to be a part of the salad, but I was also delighted to find that baby Fairytale eggplants are in season. If you’ve never tried baby eggplant you must. They are so delicious and don’t have the bitterness or thick skin of mature eggplants. All you need to do is slice off the tops, slice them in half and saute them in olive oil until soft. Add a little salt and you’re in business.
I also picked up some mint at the market and knew I’d want some cheese to make this salad complete. Unsurprisingly I headed to a stand run by cheese makers from New Jersey. I opted for a piece of crottin which is a firm goat cheese with a similar texture to ricotta salata.
I threw this salad together for lunch on Friday and it was amazing. In fact I loved it so much that I ate the leftovers as my afternoon snack a couple of hours later.
New Jersey Farmers Market Salad
- Baby fairytale eggplants; sliced in half and sauteed then allowed to cool to room temperature
- Jersey sweetcorn; cooked, allow to cool to room temperature then remove kernels from cob
- Heirloom tomato cut in to rough chunks
- Fresh mint roughly chopped (or basil)
- Crottin cheese chopped in to rough chunks (or fresh mozzarella or burratta)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red wine vinegar to taste
- Olive oil to taste
Add cheese and mint and gently toss.
Enjoy the delicious taste of my home state!
Note: I actually liked this salad even more at snack time so I’m thinking that next time I might make this salad a couple of hours ahead if time to let the flavors come together.