Summer Fruits and Vegetables that Can't be Missed

Cooking How-To, Healthy, How-To, In Season, Ingredient, Recipes, Summer
on June 11, 2013

Though peak growing seasons vary depending on region and climate, one thing that’s universally the same is a visit to the Farmers’ Market will yield spectacular fresh produce. In June and July we suggest keeping your eyes peeled for the following summertime gems.

Basil Sign
One of summer’s favorite herbs, bright and fresh basil won’t be ignored. One of our favorite uses? Fresh pesto. Though you can find delicious jarred pesto all year round, nothing beats the garden-fresh version—lightly dressing pasta, veggies or spread across your favorite sandwiches. Try Almond-Basil-Parsley Pesto or Pistachio-Basil Pesto. But don’t get bogged down in your blender! Start here for inspiration: 5 Uses for Basil and Basil: Our Top 10.

Farmers' Market Tomato
Tomato Season is upon us! Look for it to hit its peak as the summer progresses, but there’s no time like the present to start trying out recipes like Baked Sesame Tomatoes. Explore the market for heirloom varieties or new tomato breeds, all ranging in size and color to suit your wildest tomato fancy—start by reading up on our Tomato Tips and Using Green Tomatoes. To make use of many types and tastes at once, try the Tomato Party Salad with herbs and couscous.

By summer’s end, we’re usually swimming in zucchini, affording us plenty of opportunities for creativity. Baked with parmesan cheese? Yes. Grilled with a bit of olive oil? Absolutely. But when we say creative, we’ve got bigger plans for our zucchini, along the lines of these to-die-for Zucchini Cinnamon Pancakes, whirled up in Creamy Zucchini Dressing with Tahini, or baked up into Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Walnuts. When shopping, look for a vibrant green, and don’t be tempted to pick the biggest among the bunch—that fresh, delicate zucchini flavor tends to thin out, the larger they get.

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Whether baked in a Raspberry Mousse Tart, topping a Raspberry Mint Chocolate Pie Jar (pictured above), or tossed throughout a light Spinach Salad with Raspberries, we love the sweet, but not too sweet, quality of raspberries, not to mention their perfectly reddish hue, a welcome addition to any summertime table. At the market, choose raspberries that already appear bright, juicy and plump—once picked, they don’t continue to ripen.

Served warm or cold, fresh beets have all of the versatility we love in a root vegetable, plus a veritable technicolor rainbow of color to offer, ranging from bright and golden to a rich, deep red. Throughout the warm season, we especially love  a good beet salad—try Shaved Fennel-Golden Beat Salad, Warm Beet Salad with Red Onion, Mint and Pistachios, or Caprese Salad with Beets. At the market, look for beets with firm roots, avoiding any that appear soft or bruised.

Though perhaps most easily enjoyed as a sticky-sweet finger food, juices running down our arms as we lean over green grass, willing the juice to miss our bare toes, this summer staple is more versatile than you might have realized. Browse our collection of Juicy Watermelon Recipes for Summer for inspiration, and try unexpected recipes like Creamy Watermelon Sherbet. We dare you.

Juicy and ripe and sweetly fragrant, we’re not sure how to do summer without peaches. Luckily, we don’t have to. As summer progresses, they’re more common in our local markets, and we can’t wait to stock our kitchen tables to overflowing with these fresh morsels—for grab-and-go snacking, or in one of these luscious Juicy Peach Desserts. Opt for peaches that give slightly when squeezed, and avoid those with bruises, broken skin, or any hints of green around the stem—those were picked too early, and likely won’t offer that potent peach flavor you’re after.

Extra points for recipes that use multiple must-eat fruits and veggies! Try these bonus recipes on for size.

—By Alissa Harb