Food & dining
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    Fresh from the farm, prepared on the premises

    Most farm stands say prepared foods and other non-produce items account for about half of their sales. Many use the farm’s vegetables and prepare the meals on the premises. We sampled offerings from a number of stands. (For the sake of comparison, we tried to get similar items from each stand).

    IDYLWILDE FARMS This farm stand does eggplant rollatini, rather than Parm, and the fresh-tasting rolls, with meat stuffing, are a nice change-up. Tortellini salad in pesto dressing features big chunks of colorful peppers but is too bland. Sweet, tangy beet salad is supposed to include goat cheese and mint; you can taste the cheese, but the mint is MIA. Thai chicken salad (Asian foods are a specialty here) is a nice mix of shredded veggies and chicken with a sprightly, spicy dressing. Gazpacho is salsa-like and chunky, with some heat and garlic. 366 Central St., Acton, 978-263-5943,

    VERRILL FARM This is our favorite eggplant Parm, the eggplant neither too thickly nor too thinly sliced, nor too goopy, and very fresh-tasting, though a tad bland. Pad Thai, too, suffers from blandness, as does edamame salad with corn and herbs. A tricolor tortellini salad has more flavor, with a nice raspberry vinaigrette and grilled vegetables. Gazpacho is fresh with a good texture, but also lacking in flavor. Verrill is renowned for its pies, so we had to try one. Apple raspberry is about perfect, with a balance of sweet and tart, and a flaky, flavorful crust - everything a homemade pie should be. 11 Wheeler Road, Concord, 978-369-4494,


    WARD’S BERRY FARM The eggplant in the Parm is thinly sliced and well seasoned, but thickly breaded. Tortellini salad is over dressed, and the dressing has a commercial taste. Same for edamame salad. Meatballs and sauce are a specialty here, and they’re just right in taste and texture. 614 South Main St., Sharon, 781-784-3600,

    WILSON FARM Heirloom tomato gazpacho is smooth and balanced, with the tang of lemon and lime; you get the tomato seeds and all. Pesto is bright green, fresh, and flavorful. An Italian pasta salad features farfalle, yellow peppers, artichokes, and tomatoes in a tangy dressing. Heirloom tomato flatbread is a great concept, but the pesto makes it irretrievably soggy. Eggplant Parm contains big, thick slabs of eggplant and all the goopiness this dish is prone to. 10 Pleasant St., Lexington, 781-862-3900,