Aprahamian has market know-how to spare. Here he shares strategies for maneuvering through the market stalls, tips on what to look for in specific summer months, and ways to incorporate the ingredients into a meal. The West Allis market – open May-Nov.; Tues-Thurs 12-6 p.m. and Sat 1-6 p.m. – keeps National Avenue traffic snarled Saturday afternoons. That’s one of the reasons Aprahamian – often with his wife, Sanford co-owner Sarah Mudrock-Aprahamian, and their young son – plans visits for Tuesdays. To avoid crowds, they arrive shortly before the market opens and make a first walk-through. Vendors can set products aside for customers to purchase later. You can sometimes pre-order, too.
For especially perishable produce, such as strawberries, Aprahamian suggests bringing along individual plastic containers (to help protect items from getting crushed) and a small cooler for storing the perishables until you can get them home.
Here is Aprahamian’s list, sorted by the month the produce is typically in season.
Local Produce Almanac
Strawberries – to use fresh and for batches of preserves. Same goes for rhubarb, which he’ll also pickle and use in cocktails.
Turnips – Aprahamian likes the “healthy greens” on these roots, which he adds (as he does other greens) to sautés, as a filling for stuffed pasta, etc.
Pattypan squash – sweet, compact little summer squash; sautéed, roasted or pickled
Broccoli – Sanford chefs ferment the leaves and use them in pasta dishes; also braised and sautéed
Beets – all varieties; the greens are key ingredients, as well, for sautéing or fermenting and serving as an entrée component
Corn – folded into summer soups, roasted or grilled and served in salads; preserved for future use
Eggplant – all varieties; a component in caponata, grilled and served on their own or as a garnish to grilled fish
Tomatoes and tomatillos (and into August) – for salsas, salads, roasting and sautéing
Grapes – made into preserves and sorbets, mingled into sauces both sweet and savory
Apples – generally small varietals at this point in the season, but good for eating on their own or served on salads
Seckel and Asian pears – The Seckels can be poached, roasted, pickled or stuffed; the Asian pears are ideal for salads and kimchi.
Fresh herbs, peak time (rosemary, mint, basil, chervil) – garnishes, pestos and other sauces
Justin Aprahamian shares simple how-tos for utilizing some of his favorite summer ingredients, from June to August.
JUNE: Pattypan squash
Cut in half, sauté in olive oil over medium heat. (Include chopped onions and bell peppers, if you’d like.) Add garlic, chili flakes. Deglaze with a little vinegar (red wine or balsamic). Add cooked pasta, some fresh herbs, cheese and a touch more olive oil.
JULY: Yu choy
Chop the leaves and stalks of this Chinese leafy green in 1-inch pieces, dress with oil (olive or sesame), chopped garlic, lemon, ground ginger and fennel. Serve as a side with your choice of grilled meat.
Brown bacon, onions and garlic. Add a plethora of chopped tomatoes (any size and color combination), along with a handful of mint and/or basil. Layer in some whole Italian sausage links. Roast low and slow.
Char tomatillos quickly in a pan over high heat. Add chopped onion, jalapenos, poblanos, garlic and/or cilantro. Cook two minutes. Add a few spritzes of fresh lime. Blend the mixture in a food processor. Add more lime to taste. This salsa can spice up tacos, fish or steak.