When the long days of harvesting and selling their products are done, local farmers' market vendors like to cook up meals with delicious, fresh flavors.

When the long days of harvesting and selling their products are done, local farmers' market vendors like to cook up meals with delicious, fresh flavors.

"I love to gather things and go, 'What do we do with this?' There are a couple of things I use quite often because we're so busy," said Suzanne Fry of Fry Family Farm, which has a nursery in Talent and a Medford-area farm.

To make eggplant parmesan, she slices eggplant, dips it in egg and Italian breadcrumbs and fries the slices in olive oil. Then she places them on a cookie sheet, adds tomatoes or tomato sauce, basil and grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese. A short time in a 350 to 400 degree oven is enough to melt the cheese.

"Sometimes I make extra so the next day I can have an eggplant burger or an open face sandwich," Fry said.

For a quick salad with zing, mix cherry or heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, green or red onions, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and croutons.

Fry said to prepare a Thai-inspired dish, fry summer vegetables such as squash, eggplant and peppers in olive oil, then add coconut milk and curry paste. Pair with rice and barbecue chicken on sticks.

Chris Hardy from The Village Farm in Ashland grows sweet, purple ruffled and Thai basil, along with a full gamut of vegetables and other herbs.

He recommended making a pesto with purple basil, walnuts and lemon juice. Sweet basil mixes well with lemon juice and hemp nuts, or sorrel and pine nuts.

Hardy said a food processor makes pesto preparation easy, but don't over-process the ingredients.

The pesto can be served on pasta, as a dip or on bread. He suggested painting the pesto on tomatoes and putting the mixture on bread to make bruschetta.

Ashland resident John Little spends part of the year fishing in Alaska for salmon and halibut, which his wife — who is also known as "The Fish Queen" — sells at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market.

"There are a lot of ways to cook salmon, from simple to complex," Little said.

He likes to brush on butter, lemon and garlic and grill, fry or bake the salmon. Pepper, cilantro or dill is a good addition to the butter mixture.

Another technique is to marinate salmon in teriyaki sauce for up to 24 hours and then grill or bake it, Little said.

John Teem from Continuum Mushroom Farm in Talent said he often meets people who are interested in his oyster mushrooms but don't know how to prepare them.

He and his wife recommended a dry sauté technique to keep the mushrooms from developing a slimy texture when cooking. The trick is to evaporate much of their water content before adding oil.

Start by heating a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the lower, woody portion of the stems, slice the mushrooms and put them in the skillet. Stir as the mushrooms begin to steam and release water. After about five minutes, when the water is mostly evaporated, slowly add olive oil, salt, pepper and a flavoring of your choice, such as herbs, spices or wine vinegar. Sauté until lightly browned.

Add the mushrooms to pasta, quiche, stir-fry or almost any recipe that calls for button mushrooms.

Little said people can also marinate whole clusters of oyster mushrooms in their favorite marinade and then throw the whole bunch on the grill.

The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market is open in Ashland from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Ashland Armory on the corner of East Main and Wightman Streets, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the corner of First Street and Lithia Way.

For more preparation ideas for local foods, attend events at this year's Eat Local Challenge in the Rogue Valley. Tastings, restaurant specials, cooking classes and other activities are continuing through Sunday.

For a schedule of events, visit www.thriveoregon.org/2008ScheduleofEvents.pdf.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. To post a comment, visit www.dailytidings.com.