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What’s in Season: Summer Produce

When it comes to packing your plate with rich, appealing flavor, color, and texture, summer produce is the seasonal winner. Delicious grilled, roasted, sautéed, or simply raw, midsummer produce is a mouthwatering way to eat less meat while enjoying the satisfying tastes of the season. We’ve got the 101 on what’s ripe now with fresh recipes to help you sink your teeth into the abundance of summer. 
produce vegetable fruits

Peaches.   Soft, sweet, and chin-drippingly juicy, peaches might be the unofficial food of summer. Harvested from May until September, peaches are at their peak during July and August. When looking for ripe peaches, give a squeeze; the fruit should yield to gentle pressure without feeling mushy. Also, follow your nose! Ripe summer peaches are unmistakably aromatic. Delicious in all kinds of desserts, this versatile fruit also adds an intriguing layer of flavor to sandwiches and savory salads. We love juicy summer peaches in drinks, too, like these spicy peach margaritas.   

Spicy peach margaritas recipe 

Watermelon. Is it a snack? Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? Ripe summer watermelon is all three! Over 90 percent water by volume, watermelon is the perfect refreshing treat for hot summer days. Try pulsing frozen watermelon cubes in the food processor for an easy smoothie or throw slices on the grill for an unexpected smoky-sweet dessert. We also love watermelon tossed with fresh herbs and citrus for a refreshing summer salad, like this triple melon fruit salad. 

Triple melon fruit salad recipe 

Bell peppers. Available in almost every shade of the rainbow, nothing brings color and crunch to the party like bell peppers. Though technically a berry, bell peppers have a distinctive vegetable flavor that ranges from grassy and slightly bitter in green, to mildly sweet in yellow and orange, to the full floral sweetness of red peppers. Delicious raw—just be sure to remove the inedible ribs and seeds—diced bell pepper adds a bright pop of flavor to all kinds of grain and protein-based salads. Perfect on pizza, bell peppers get even sweeter with the heat of the oven or grill. We love the combination of sweet and smoky grilled peppers, herby pesto, and mild mozzarella in this easy summer pasta recipe.  

Spaghetti with pesto, grilled veggies, and mozzarella recipe 

Green beans. You might know them as string beans, or snap beans, or their skinny French cousin, haricot verts. Whatever the name, green beans are a nutrient-packed, versatile veggie not to be missed during their peak season in July and August. Like other beans, green beans start as seeds growing in a pod. Harvested young, green bean pods remain tender and therefore edible along with the seeds, just be sure to trim off the tough, fibrous ends. Fresh summer green beans are delicious raw or blanched (quickly boiled then submerged in ice water to maintain some crispness). Or try dipping whole green beans in egg, coating in breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, and baking or air frying for kid-friendly green bean fries. We especially love the crunchy zing of quick pickled green beans, perfect for light snacking or garnish in a Bloody Mary. 

Quick pickled green beans recipe 

Tomatoes. Available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, each with subtle differences in flavor and texture, ripe summer tomatoes are a tasty treat with endless possibilities. Common varieties like cherry, plum, and beefsteak, as well as exotic heirloom varieties like Brandywine, Sun Gold, and Green Zebra are all at their peak from mid-July through early September. Fresh summer tomatoes are a no-brainer in salads, like Caprese;  sandwiches, like BLTs and grilled cheese; and sauces and salsas. Or concentrate that sweet taste of summer with an easy slow cooker chutney. 

Slow cooker tomato onion chutney recipe 

Corn. How do we love midsummer corn? Let us count the ways: grilled, boiled, simmered, roasted, and sautéed; in soups, sandwiches, salads, dips, baked goods, and beyond. Whether whole on the cob or cut into kernels, crunchy, sweet corn might be the world’s most versatile vegetable. Grown in all 50 states, fresh, local corn is readily available just about everywhere this time of year. But head’s up: the sugar in fresh corn slowly converts to starch as soon as it’s picked, so it’s best to eat it right away for the sweetest flavor.  Peak season corn is especially delicious paired with two other bold summer flavors, nectarines and fresh basil, in a couscous salad perfect for picnics or backyard BBQs. 

Pearled couscous and corn salad with nectarines recipe

Cucumber. Summer is the ideal time for the cool, refreshing crunch of cucumbers. Luckily, they’re in peak season from mid-May through August. A member of the gourd family (along with squash and melons), cucumbers are an excellent source of Vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium despite being over 95 percent water. While all three categories of cukes—slicing, the traditional dark green variety with visible seeds; pickling, like thick-skinned Kirby; and seedless, sometimes called English or hothouse cucumbers—are currently in season, we prefer thin-skinned seedless for salads and snacking. They’re the perfect light and fresh compliment to hearty white beans and tangy feta in this refreshing salad with hummus dressing.

Cucumber, white bean, and feta salad with hummus dressing recipe

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