Like fashion, food has a sort of “shoulder season,” especially here in New England, where real fall and then deep winter arrive all too soon. I love to play around with some of the end-of-summer/early autumn farmers market offerings in an attempt to bridge the gap between seasons, catching as much of the fresh harvest as possible.

GRILLED TUNA STEAKS WITH PEACH-RED ONION SALSA

Tuna takes particularly well to grilling, and this dazzling peach salsa, using the last of this season’s crop, offers the perfect foil for tuna’s rich, meaty flavor. If tuna is thoroughly cooked it dries out, so try for somewhere on the rare to medium spectrum, according to your preference. Add roasted new potatoes and steamed, buttered zucchini for a special dinner.

Serves 4

PEACH-RED ONION SALSA:

2 to 3 medium ripe but firm peaches, skin on or off, diced

1 cup chopped red onion

¾ cup chopped red bell pepper

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

FISH AND MARINADE:

4 (6- to 8-ounce) tuna steaks

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside at room temperature for about 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 6 hours, returning to room temperature before serving.

To make the tuna, place fish steaks in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish. Pour oil over the fish, add rosemary and salt and pepper, and turn fish to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours before cooking, turning once or twice so the fish stays coated with oil. Remove from refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking.

Build a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Lift tuna out of the oil, letting excess drain off, and place on the grill. Cook, turning once, until tuna reaches desired degree of doneness, 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium, depending on thickness. Garnish fish with rosemary sprigs and serve topped with salsa.

GINGER-SPIKED SMOKED FISH CAKES WITH HERBS

Flavorful smoked fish and the zing of fresh ginger give a wonderful boost to potato-based fish cakes. Any of Maine’s several varieties of smoked fish can be used here – smoked haddock, mackerel, salmon or trout. An early fall salad of spinach, thinly sliced apple and blue cheese – along with some toasted farmers market focaccia – would round out the meal nicely.

Serves 4

1½ pounds russet or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

6 ounces flaked or shredded boneless smoked fish, about 1½ cups

1/3 cup snipped chives or minced scallions

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt, to taste

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 tablespoons peanut or other vegetable oil, plus additional if necessary

Lemon wedges

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and put through a ricer or mash with a potato masher or a large fork until smooth. (You should have about 4 cups of puree.)

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the flaked fish, chives, cilantro, ginger and pepper. Stir well to combine. Taste and season with salt if necessary. (The smoked fish may provide enough saltiness on its own.) Beat in the egg. Shape into 8 (½-inch thick) cakes and chill for at least an hour to firm.

Heat oil in 2 skillets and cook cakes over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides and heated through, about 10 minutes total. Add a tablespoon or so more oil to skillets if cakes seem in danger of scorching. Serve with lemon wedges.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny


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