Well, it’s August and summer’s bearing down on us pretty hard right now (especially here in Texas). As the summer season rolls on, there are just tons of different fruits and vegetables that are at their absolute peak this time of year. And you really should be trying to get your hands on them - to eat and to cook with.
As you know, these days you can find just about any fruit or vegetable year-round. But, honestly, eating in-season is so much better. Fresher produce is that hasn’t been shipped for days and days tastes a great deal better than that those that have been in transit. The transportation is hard on them. And the time it takes from harvest to market to table takes its toll also. So, when you can, I recommend cooking and eating what’s in-season as much and possible.
Now, I know that varies from region to region. Here in Texas we have a really, really long growing season. In points north, it’s lots shorter. This fact lends itself to certain produce and certainly certain varieties of produce. Tomatoes that take a long time to mature may work in the south, but may not work in the north. Climates with more precipitation lend themselves to certain fruits and vegetables.
So, here we are late-summer. What’s in season? Look for these fruits and vegetables in abundance at your market - and put them to work in your kitchen and./or your your backyard grill. Some that are especially good during the summer include:
- Avocados. These are everywhere right now. And they are ripe and looking great. (Guacamole, anyone?) Or just slice them up and drop them onto your salads.
- Herbs like basil. I get so much basil from my garden this time of year it’s amazing. About 6 weeks ago I harvested all of my basil and cranked out quarts of pesto. And you know what? From the stems I left behind in the garden, I have a whole new crop growing up. Put together summer tomatoes, basil, and some mozzarella - with a drizzle of olive oil,
- Berries.There are blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries all over the place right now
- Melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are at their peak. They are at thier juiciest this time of year.
- Figs. Yes, I know figs may not be the most popular fruit around. (I personally love them). But I just had to include them because I look outside at my fig tree and it's just exploding with fat, ripe figs. I just have to beat the squirrels to them!
- Corn. Sweet summer corn is a treat. Beautiful, large ears are everywhere right now - and are priced very well.
- Cucumbers. This time of year many gardens' cucumbers get big and voluminous. It seems like one day you look and there’s not much on those vines and the next day they are everywhere. And at the markets they are pretty inexpensive.
- Peppers. Especially look for those uniquely-flavored Hatch chili peppers which are at peak season from mid-August until early-September. In other words, right now!
- Eggplant. Whether its the big, black beauties that you think of when you think about eggplants or the longer, more slender Japanese eggplants, this time of year they are at their peak.
- Okra. I plant okra every year. And every year I’m amazed at the volume my garden churns out (without me paying much attention to it). We all know about the corn meal/fried method to cook these. This year I want to try my hand at pickling some of them.
- Stone fruits - peaches, plums, nectarines, etc. These are super-ripe right now. And you’ll find them everywhere. Pick some up and do something creative with them.
- Summer squash. The name says it all, right? The yellow crookneck squashes and zucchinis are at their peak this time of year. And even try branching out. (Get it? LOL) Have you ever tried other summer squash variations like patty pan squash or scallop? There's so much you can do with these versatile veggies.
- Tomatoes. I don’t know about you, but my garden tomatoes are in decline this time of year. It’s so darn hot they just start to struggle. But, there are plenty of local options I can find at the market. And don't overlook the interesting varieties of heirloom tomatoes that just seem to get more available and more abundant each year.
And one other thing to consider. Almost all of these guys go great on the grill. If you haven’t ever tried it, I’d suggest trying corn, eggplant, squash, and even various fruits on the grill. Most of them do really well sliced, marinaded, and then grilled for a few minutes on each side. That’s it.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always got your eyes one for new recipes to try. So, wth a focus on late summer produce, I thought I’d do a little research and share some that I think you might enjoy. Enjoy!
- Fresh Corn Polenta with Summer Vegetables from CarolinesCooking.com
- Alice Waters' Ratatouille from Food52.com
- Bread Salad with Charred Tomatoes, Cucumber & Olives from Williams-Sonoma's Taste blog
- Zucchini Bread from TheKitchn.com
- Cucumber Tomato Salad with Garlic Herb Grilled Naan from WhatsGabyCooking.com
- Caprese Stuffed Zucchini from OhMyVeggies.com
- Peach & Plum Crumble from Love&Lemons.com
- Cajun Stuffed Tomatoes Over Creamy Grits from JoyTheBaker.com
- Basil Vinaigrette from DavidLebovitz.com
And that's just a few recipes to get you started!! No doubt you can easily find many others.
So, when you can, I recommend cooking and eating what’s in-season (and local) as much as possible. You’ll be surprised at how much different the flavor is. Enjoy late summer’s bounty! Get creative and a little adventurous. Visit your local farmers markets and see what's there. You’ll be happy you did. :).
- Veggies to Look For NOW (Spring)
- Beyond the Burger: Try Grilling Fruit This Summer
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