Written by Claire McArthur

During these summer months when the farmers’ market tables are overflowing with colorful produce, the way I cook changes. I tend to ditch grocery lists and shop on the fly based on what looks the best.

In the kitchen, my meals are simplified and made without recipes. Peaches and tomatoes find their way into salads with mozzarella, arugula, basil, and a simple dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Cooking during the abundance of summer harvest calls for produce-forward meals, like this peach and tomato Caprese salad on a bed of arugula. Photo by Claire McArthur

Wine is enjoyed on the patio alongside fresh radishes dipped in salty, grass-fed butter or cantaloupe wrapped in salty prosciutto.

Proscuitto-wrapped cantaloupe and radishes dipped in butter or drizzled in olive oil make simple but delicious summer appetizers. Photo by Claire McArthur

One of my favorite farmers’ market meals to make, however, centers on a forgiving, easy-to-substitute pesto. While the original trifecta of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan certainly is a staple, the framework of pesto easily can be reworked to incorporate whatever greens you have on hand for an equally delicious sauce to put on pasta, pizza, or grilled meat.

Kale, arugula, carrot tops, broccolini, Swiss chard, and beet leaf greens, to name a few, all can be pulsed in a food processor with Parmesan (or any sort of hard, aged cheese, including pecorino or Manchego) and walnuts (or almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc.). Just add olive oil, garlic, and lemon, and season for a versatile sauce that screams summer.

Here’s what’s in peak season right now from Reno-Tahoe farms: 

Lattin Farms (Fallon)

Armenian cucumbers. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms

  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Eggplant
  • Raspberries
  • Gourmet greens mix
  • Rhubarb
  • Armenian cucumbers
  • Shishito peppers
  • Cantaloupes

Sun gold
Sun gold tomatoes. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms

Sarah cantaloupe. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms

Desert Farming Initiative (Reno)

  • Cauliflower
  • Red chard
  • Yellow chard
  • Speckled Romaine lettuce
  • Red radishes
  • Spicy greens mix
  • Spring lettuce mix
  • Oregano
  • Romanesco zucchini
  • Basil
  • Romanesco cauliflower

Bella Vista Farm (Minden)

  • Butter crunch lettuce
  • Red sails leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • All-star lettuce mix
  • Green butter lettuce
  • Rex lettuce
  • Green salad bowl
  • 5-star lettuce mix
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Arugula
  • Beet leaf greens
  • Tomatoes

Ready to turn those fresh market greens into a perfectly easy summer meal? Try making this recipe for Any Greens Pesto.

Any Greens Pesto
(recipe by Claire McArthur, freelance writer and home cook. Makes 1 cup)


3 cups greens of choice (e.g. kale, Swiss chard, arugula, or beet leaf greens)

½ cup grated Parmesan (or other hard, aged cheese)

⅓ cup walnuts (or other nut or seed)

½ cup olive oil

1 clove garlic

Juice of lemon, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Add greens, Parmesan, walnuts, olive oil, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add juice from half or whole lemon, depending on flavor preference. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over pasta, on pizza, or over any grilled meat of your choice.


Claire McArthur is a freelance writer who believes in cooking with your heart and taste buds over recipes. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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