Summer Eating From the Roots Up


I grew up in a country where every meal features ingredients directly sourced from a home garden, so it’s no surprise I get absolutely giddy during farmers market season. But it’s not just the freshness that I enjoy–it’s the entire process. Snapping sprigs of fresh thyme from a sturdy branch, plucking little round peppers away from leaves, the smell of tomatoes fresh off the vine. While all the snapping and plucking is already done for greenmarket patrons, I relish the times I can get into a garden and retrieve the ingredients on my own.

I’m very thankful to have a greenmarket that’s walking distance from my home, albeit a small one. The Riverdale Youthmarket assembles every Thursday from 3pm until 7pm and sells seasonal offerings supplied by a variety of New York farms. A table over is a CSA pickup for Hawthorne Valley Farm which also sells baked goods, yogurt, and pickled vegetables in farmers markets around New York City. My favorite HVF product is their line of sauerkraut, which you can find at Whole Foods Market and the Inwood Greenmarket, among other locations.

The Riverdale Youthmarket has a small selection, but it’s certainly enough to get creative with. Currently they offer potato, summer squash, zucchini, beets, red onion, red leaf lettuce, vine ripe tomato, carrots, corn, green beans, sweet peppers, melon, cilantro, and basil. I’ve been told that peaches will be arriving very soon.

Today’s recipe develops from the summer squash I picked up on my last visit. Originally I planned to grill it but I had a lot of fresh basil that was screaming to be used up, so I decided to pair it with a pantry staple, chickpeas, and fresh tomato. On that note, I should also say that whenever my husband wants a light, quick meal, he always requests “chickpeas and onions”–or Channa as my Guyanese folk would have it. That particular night he made his familiar request and I decided to put a little spin on it.

This is Summer Squash with Chickpeas, Basil, Tomato and Onions.


Ingredients (serves two)

1 Summer Squash, innards removed and cubed

1 can Chickpeas (or 1.5 cups freshly soaked)

1 tomato, diced

1 small onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 sprigs thyme

2 cups fresh basil (may seem like a lot, but it greatly reduces in size)

1 small chili pepper (optional)

2tbsp Coconut Oil (or Olive Oil)

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Add oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing often.

2. Add thyme, garlic, and chili pepper if using. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. To prevent the onions from burning, I stir my ingredients often which produces a very soft, translucent, and light tasting onion. If your chickpeas are on the firmer side, you can reduce the heat slightly and cook them for a bit longer, or alternatively, cook them for 5-6 minutes if they are on the softer side. No two can of chickpeas are created equal, so play around with your cooking time.

3. Add squash, salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the tomato is beginning to melt.

4. Add basil leaves, stir to combine until basil is wilted. Remove from heat and serve.


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