With summer in full swing, a Saturday morning trip to the local farmers’ market is heaven for locavores. Ripe, red tomatoes, still warm from the sun; sweet-tart, juicy berries; abundant zucchini; crisp cucumber; and sweet, sweet summer corn — the bounty is irresistible.
Back home, unloading all that goodness in your own kitchen, such abundance can seem almost overwhelming. With recipes planned out ahead of time, though, you can fill your basket with abandon. File these fresh and colorful ideas away, hit the markets, and cook up a love letter to summer.
Heirlooms, cherries, plums and slicers — summer tomatoes come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Look for ones that just yield to pressure and feel heavy for their size. Store on the counter and use within a day or two. Freeze any extras whole in a zip-top bag for making sauce later in the season.
You can’t go wrong with a plate of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with Spice Islands®
sea salt and basil and drizzled with fruity olive oil or a classic BLT, but if you have just a little more time, these recipes make the most of tomatoes’ ripe juicy flavor:
Local berries plucked from the vine at the peak of ripeness put grocery store counterparts to shame. Ask for a sample, and pick your favorite for pies, fruit salad, jam or shortcake. Buy an extra pint or two — you can always freeze berries for pancakes, pies, and muffins.
To freeze, spread berries in a single layer on a sheet pan, then transfer to a zip-top bag or airtight container once frozen solid. To store berries for immediate eating, keep loosely covered in the refrigerator, and don’t rinse until just before eating or cooking.
If you can keep from eating them all before you get home, you can dress them up with just a sprinkle of Spice Islands® vanilla bean
-spiked sugar and eat them with lightly whipped cream, or try some of our favorite summer berry recipes:
Notoriously abundant, zucchini is a versatile summer favorite great for grilling, stir-fries and salads. Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer and use within two to three days. Shaved thin, drizzled with a little lemon juice and olive oil, and spiced up with a pinch of Spice Islands® crushed red pepper
, zucchini makes a great side dish for a simple supper, but considering how economical and available it is all summer, you’ll want a few more tricks up your sleeve.
Here are some of our tried and true recipes for everyone’s favorite summer squash:
Cooling and crisp, cucumber offers a refreshing crunch on the hottest summer days. Choose firm cucumbers with unblemished skin — don’t worry about bumps or bends, as these won’t affect flavor, and many of the best varieties don’t have a grocery store perfection.
With just a splash of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt
and Spice Islands® dill
, you can make refrigerator pickles in a flash, but with a little more time you’ll also enjoy these recipes that celebrate cucumber’s signature flavor and texture:
Drizzled with butter and sprinkled with Spice Islands®
sea salt and black pepper, sweet corn on the cob says summer like nothing else. When buying corn, pull back the husk to make sure the kernels are plump and fresh. Choose ears that feel heavy for their size, and store in the husk, loosely wrapped in the refrigerator. Use within a day or two before the sugar in the kernels converts to starch. Corn freezes great cut from the cob or shucked and trimmed on the cob.
Buy more than you think you need – these recipes will be everyone’s favorite summer dishes:
A Full Crop
Looking for a go-to recipe that will use up everything on hand before your next trip to the market? You can always toss everything in a skillet with some garlic and herbs
and freshly-cooked pasta, or for something different, try one of these winners:
Elizabeth Winslow is a writer, food blogger, teacher, and entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and creates compelling content for brands both large and small. She has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and teaches cooking classes with Kitchen Underground. Winslow + co.