Your local farmer’s market comes to life in the summertime, and there’s a reason for that. So many delicious, and wonderfully popular ingredients hit the peak of their season in the summer months.
From corn to watermelon, berries to summer squash, the warm weather months of the year are abundant in fresh cooking and celebration. It’s time to forget the canned stuff and hit up the fresh produce section, and if you can, a local farmer’s market—you have every reason to.
You don’t have to live in California to be crazy about avocados. The avocado, technically a member of the berry family, is one of the most versatile ingredients there is, with a wide variety of flavor and texture depending on their grower and ripeness. This infamous green berry is best eaten when slightly darkened in color and palpable to the touch—without being sunken in.
Whatever your dinner theme, a fresh avocado can fit right in. A classic, zesty guacamole recipe is the perfect appetizer or topping for a Mexican themed meal. Sliced avocado is the perfect addition to a fresh salad, and compliments fish-focused dishes well. To add a rich, creamy texture to chocolate dessert brownies, add a bit of avocado “meat” to your batter. Avocados are also infamous breakfast food ingredients, being popular in green smoothies or on a slice of toast with salt and pepper.
The name says it all! The summer squash is a classic summer meal addition.
Squash is a member of the gourd family and is harvested when its meat and skin are slightly tender. There are many varieties of summer squash, including zucchini, straight neck, globe squash, pattypan squash and more.
Your options regarding this vegetable are virtually limitless. You can bake it, sauté it, grill it. You name it! Baking a fresh loaf of zucchini bread is the perfect way to wind down on a summer night, and would be a great dish to bring along as a desert or snack over wine. Many outdoor gatherings will feature shish kabobs as a side dish, and sliced squash will not only make your kabobs look beautiful with some fresh summer color, but they’ll also taste delicious.
Yes, Pull Over For That Fresh Fruit Stand
Roadside fruit stands often feature what are called, “stone fruits”—fruits like peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines that have pits in their centers. These fruits are often available and reach the peak of their harvests between May and October in the United States.
Look for fruits either hard to the touch meaning they will be ripe in a few days. Or bright in color and pretty palpable when you press your fingers on their skin meaning ready to eat. Park your car if you see a fresh produce stand. Supporting the local farmers is great for your community, and you will most likely talk to a fruit expert who will help you pick out exactly what you need!
Most of these fruits lend themselves extremely well to fruit salads. This fresh summer fruit salad recipe is to die for and would be the perfect addition to your gathering. If you’re interested in making a cobbler, stone fruits are a great choice as well. Grilled peaches, among other summer dishes, are the perfect mix of fresh, healthy, and sinfully delicious.
Eggplant—Yep, Just Like The Emoji
Eggplant is actually great to eat too, not just an infamous emoticon.
Deep purple in color, eggplants are seen in most fresh produce sections at the grocery store. Younger eggplants can be cooked and eaten with their skin on, and older berries need to be skinned for their thick white meat underneath.
While eggplant ordinarily has a bitter flavor, adding salt can mask the worst of it, and what’s left you might find you love. Because of its unique flavor and great health benefits, eggplant is a very popular summer side dish and as versatile as squash. Baking, broiling, frying and grilling are all welcome when cooking up this unique addition to your veggie repertoire!
Melon, Melon, Melon
It’s that time of year again — when the big buckets of watermelon and cantaloupe take over the grocery stores’ produce section. Just like stone fruit, fresh produce stands and farmers markets often sport large quantities and varieties of melon.
Whether it be the fresh green honeydew melon or the wildly popular red watermelon, this fruit variety is great in fruit salads, sorbets, or even on savory salads.
Because melon often becomes expensive and hard to find in large quantities during its off season, summer is the perfect time to enjoy this delicious, exotic fruit!
Cherries And Berries
And now the little fruits! Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries all reach their peak in the summer months. Cherries, which might become your new favorite fresh fruit, are good for a whole lot more than milkshake toppers and “pretty pleases.”
Aside from being delicious and the perfect summer snack, visiting a berry patch with the family and picking your own fruit is a great summer activity for all ages. Salads and cobblers are a given use for these delicious fresh munchies, but try adding them to a cold water jug or pitcher. Spice up your fruit punch or spirits cocktail by throwing some berries into the mix! You can also try making these fruit infused DIY popsicles for the kids.