Recipes to inspire your trips to the farmers' market

You never know exactly what you're going to find or who's going to be at your local farmers' market on any given weekend, but one thing you can guarantee is that you'll find some of the freshest locally-grown and homemade products you can imagine. Stalls will be filled with all kinds of amazing foods, and sometimes it's tough deciding what to get and what to do with it. Fortunately, there are a ton of brilliant ideas out there that can provide just the inspiration you're looking for.

Make fried tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a classic Southern favorite, and a farmers' market is a great place to get a sack or two. Giving this old favorite a makeover can be the perfect way to use fresh tomatoes, like this version from Host the Toast with fried green tomatoes, covered with goat cheese and a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. Turn it into an amazing breakfast when you take advice from Taming of the Spoon. Their fried green tomatoes are topped with avocado and a poached egg, making it the perfect morning meal.

There's no reason for green tomatoes to get all the attention, since red ones can also become something special. Check out this recipe from Ciao Chow Bambina for fried red tomatoes that have just the right amount of added flavor with crunchy breadcrumbs and a dash of grated cheese.

Enjoy tomato sandwiches and spreads

If you've ever given the meat a miss and enjoyed a sandwich that was filled with tomato instead, you know just how good this incredibly simple lunch can be. Full Fork Ahead has a version that crosses tomato sandwiches with a margherita pizza for a grilled sandwich that's bursting with flavor. If you're cutting back on bread, that's no reason to skip Belly Full's open-faced heirloom tomato sandwich. Top this one with a few slices of fresh tomato, reduced-fat cottage cheese, and red onion for a delicious sandwich that's great any time of the day. Or, try this one from Southern Living for an open-faced tomato sandwich, finished off with a creamy cucumber spread.

Speaking of spreads, you can absolutely use fresh tomatoes for that, too. Check out this idea from Veggie Inspired for a tomato-based spread that will not only put ketchup to shame, but it'll change the way you eat your other fresh, raw veggies.

Use those jams and jellies

How can you resist picking up a few jars of the inevitable jams and jellies? If you're sick of just smearing it on your morning toast, check out some of these other options that'll have you using every last bit. Switch up your breakfast with these jam-filled almond muffins from Another Thyme, and use any kind of jam that catches your eye.

For lunch or dinner, try something completely out of the box with Bon Appetit's recipe for sweet and spicy chicken that calls for jelly in the glaze, along with a heaping helping of Sriracha. And you can't forget about dessert! Cooking With Carlee has a lovely recipe for a light Victorian sponge cake that's filled with fresh strawberries and a layer of strawberry jam. And how about putting a new twist on the classic flavors of peanut butter and jelly with this recipe from Averie Cooks for peanut butter and jelly blondies? With double the peanut butter and a swirl of jelly, they're a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Put those bushels of apples to use

Once fall arrives, so do the apples. Fortunately, there's no shortage of things you can do with apples, including these apple brownies from That Skinny Chick Can Bake. While you're slicing up your apples, why not use a few of the larger slices for these chocolate turtle apple slices from Mom Loves Baking? They have a taste that could have come right from the fair — only better!

You can turn apples into an amazing side dish for any backyard BBQ, too. Just try this recipe from The Creative Bite for a super-healthy salad that includes cranberries, goat cheese, pecans, and poppy seed dressing. And, because you can never have too many recipes that double as a sweet treat and a yummy breakfast, try these apple pie cinnamon rolls from The Hopeless Housewife

Eat veggie sandwiches

Getting your daily servings of vegetables never looks and tastes as good as it goes during farmers' market season. Go Dairy Free has an amazing recipe for turning summertime vegetables into Thai peanut veggie sandwiches, filled with crispy vegetables and topped with a creamy peanut sauce. If you're looking for inspiration from a different part of the world, Layers of Happiness has you covered with this loaded Mediterranean sandwich, topped with a cilantro-and-jalapeno hummus and crumbled feta.

Neighbor Food has tips and tricks for making your veggie sandwich the best on the block, including a recipe for an herbed cream cheese spread that's the right amount of flavor without being overpowering. If you're looking for a hot option, try this grilled summer squash sandwich from Noming Through Life.

Find uses for fresh honey

If your farmers' market includes beekeepers there selling their wares, you've hit the jackpot. They often sell both honey and honeycomb, and according to the Food Network, honeycomb is perfectly fine to just pick up from the tub and eat as it's sold. They suggest breaking it up to sprinkle over your salad, stirring it into your yogurt, eating it on a bagel with a slice of Brie, or putting it at the bottom of a bowl and topping it with chili.

Honey itself is great in tea or drizzled over oatmeal, but Six Sisters' Stuff has perfected a recipe for something completely different: an old-fashioned honey candy. While you're munching on your candy, why not whip up a batch of The Cake Blog's honey cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting?

Make fruit cookies

We know you love chocolate chip cookies, but Butter With A Side of Bread has a few amazing reasons to start thinking about making cookies with fresh fruit. Chocolate lovers should start with their raspberry chocolate chip cookies, which have an extra kick from the raspberries. They've also come up with a soft, flavorful blueberry cream cookie that includes a box of vanilla pudding mix for a flavor that's nothing short of perfect. Fans of oatmeal cookies might find their new, go-to recipe in their blackberry oatmeal cookies, a soft, slightly chewy cookie with white chocolate chips added for good measure. Peach lovers don't need to be left out, either, and Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen has a recipe for peach melt-in-your-mouth cookies that are the perfect way to use up extra peaches.

Try these zucchini recipes

People either love or hate zucchini, but there are plenty of recipes out there even the biggest haters will love. Instead of your standard zucchini bread, Sally's Baking Addiction has a double chocolate version that hides the zucchini in the middle of a fudgy, moist, chocolatey bread. And for something a little lighter, try Lil Luna's glazed lemon zucchini bread, so moist you'll think it's cake. Cake is a completely legitimate option, too, thanks to Tornadough Alli and this recipe for a banana zucchini sheet cake, topped with a generous layer of cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

And for a dessert that will fool everyone into thinking they're eating apples, Crazy for Crust has a recipe for zucchini pie bars that turns it into pseudo-apples by cooking it up with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Add a shortbread crust, a crumble topping, and a generous scoop of ice cream and you'll have what just might be the perfect dessert.

Pickle vegetables for later

The winter months can be long and tough, and if you plan ahead for then, you'll be thanking yourself come December. There's no better way to do just that than to pick up a few extra bags of fresh veggies to turn into delicious pickled treats. Pickles are a sure-fire win, and A Fork's Take has the perfect recipe for fire and ice pickles that have a bit of sweetness and a bit of spice.

There are plenty of options aside from cucumbers, too. Just take a look at these spicy Vietnamese pickled vegetables from Three Olives Branch for those who like their veggies with a bit of heat. Also great for those that appreciate a little kick is A Dish of Daily Life's recipe for homemade Giardiniera. You can pickle green beans, too, and this recipe from Vegan in the Freezer tells you how to do exactly that for a surprising side you might find yourself eating right out of the jar. And if you love garlic (and who doesn't), Cook and Renovate has some tips for making refrigerator pickled garlic that you'll find yourself using more than you might expect.

Make fruit leather

Fruit leather is that fruity, chewy, almost candy-like treat that you used to enjoy as a kid. News flash — you can like it (and make it) as an adult, too. It's easy to do, and Baked by Rachel has a few recipes that use your favorite fruits, including one for a Very Berry fruit leather. She also has a strawberry version, because who doesn't love strawberries?

If peaches are more your thing, try this recipe for peach raspberry fruit leather from Oh So Delicious. If you're staying away from sugar, this is a great option for a sweet treat that uses honey instead. And if summer months are giving way to fall, your farmers' market probably has a ton of apples perfect for making a batch of apple cinnamon fruit leather from Real Mom Nutrition.

Mix flavored butters

Butter is delicious, but it's definitely not good for you. Fortunately, you can pick up ingredients at the farmers' market to make your own non-dairy butters that are just as good — if not better. Start with this vanilla spiced pear butter from Baked in Arizona, full of magical spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon. For another fruity butter, you can't go wrong with this spiced apple butter from Parsnips & Pastries — the slow cooker is the perfect thing to soften the apples and meld the flavors of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

There's no reason to ignore your vegetables, either. Happy Healthy Mama uses sweet potatoes for their butter, sweetening it with agave nectar and seasoning it with ginger and nutmeg. And even if you're not a fan of rhubarb, you might find the cinnamon, lemon, or vanilla The View From This Great Island recommends using to make their rhubarb butter will win you over.

Have vegetables for dessert

Vegetables don't exactly have a reputation as being dessert material. However, there are a couple of super-creative ways you can use your farmers' market purchases for dessert, and no one even has to know. Since beets have a natural sweetness, they're perfect for this beet strawberry chia pudding from Emilie Eats. It's so easy and tasty, you might find yourself making more for breakfast the next morning. For something equally tasty, easy, and completely unconventional, try Low Carb Yum's take on chocolate pudding made with cauliflower. You might never go back to the standard stuff!

Fresh Planet Flavor has one vegetable-filled dessert that's ideal for chocolate lovers, their vegan heartache cake. Not only is it filled with dark chocolate and sweetened with maple syrup, but there's a secret ingredient: eggplant. You also have to try these chocolate carrot squash cupcakes from My Kitchen Addiction. What better way is there to get your five-a-day?

Enjoy super-fresh salads

There's probably someone in your family that thinks all salads are made the same. It's all in how you put them together, and Dinner at the Zoo has a brilliant way to turn all those delicious fresh veggies into an Asian cucumber salad filled with flavor from the soy sauce and sesame seeds. For a different flavor profile, try Closet Cooking's creamy dilled cucumber salad. Since this creamy dish calls for yogurt instead of mayo, you're not even compromising on healthy. Sometimes, though, you just want something that's a little bit naughty, and White Lights on Wednesday's fresh vegetable salad is just the thing. There's sour cream, mayo, and all kinds of fresh veggies that are sure to make this one a summertime staple.

You never know what you're going to find at a farmer's market. That's what makes this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats so great: you can use whatever veggies you find. The secret is in the sugar-free marinade for a tart summer salad that will show off all the flavors of the veggies.

Enjoy one-dish veggie dinners

So, you're back from the farmers' market and looking for something to make for dinner. If you happened to pick up potatoes and cauliflower, Savory Tooth has a fun recipe for golden cauliflower curry with potatoes that's hearty enough to be a main meal. Prefer broccoli? Try Vegan Chick Pea's broccoli, kale, and rice casserole for something that's heavy on comfort, but still healthy.

For a fun way to use some of that fresh squash, Plain Chicken has this family-favorite recipe for a squash casserole that's creamy, crunchy, and filled with fresh veggies like squash, onions, and peppers. And, if it's a bit later in the season, Natasha's Kitchen has a recipe for an easy, colorful roasted dish that will have even the biggest veggie skeptics asking for seconds.