Spring vegetables seem to have come and gone so quickly; we barely got our fill of asparagus, a true sign of spring for us, before it disappeared! However, we’ve been taking full advantage of all the other fruits and veggies available this time of year. Here are some ways we’ve put summer produce to use.
We snagged a bunch of shelling peas and made Smitten Kitchen’s pea pesto recipe a few times, but we tweaked it a bit to represent the season even more by whirring blanched asparagus right into the pesto. We also added lemon zest, parmesan cheese and prosciutto to the final product - always a good combination.
We’ve deemed tomato season worth turning the oven on to make a tomato basil pie. We roasted tomatoes along with yellow and green squash from the Farmers' Market before adding the veggies to a pie crust and layering mayonnaise, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and basil on top, baking it until hot and bubbly and enjoying it at room temperature alongside a simple green salad. If this pie wasn’t so rich we could eat the whole thing in one sitting, it’s that good.
Every tomato season we become obsessed with an incredibly easy and flavorful pasta dish that Reading My Tea Leaves provides guidelines for; she salts her chopped raw tomatoes while the pasta cooks in order to release their juices and then combines the tomatoes and pasta with generous amounts of olive oil, basil, mozzarella and freshly cracked black pepper for a fresh dish, perfect in this hot weather. Of course, a caprese, using almost all of the same ingredients, requires absolutely no cooking.
We also used market tomatoes, cucumbers and cubanelle peppers to make a gazpacho recipe from the NYTimes several times and it’s as easy and delicious as advertised, especially served alongside some good bread and cheese. The best part about the recipe is, there’s no turning on the oven or stove.
After I bought the very last bag of husked corn one afternoon at the Farmers' Market (that’s what I get for waiting until the end of the day), I made this smoky sweet potato noodle salad from Pinch of Yum, which I’ve basically been waiting months to make until corn season was here. I toasted my pepitas first and added some Mexican cheese as she suggested and it was perfect for summer - light and required minimal cooking.
Next time I got to the Farmer’s Market bright and early to get my ears of corn and used them to make scallion and bacon corn pancakes. We mixed in corn off the cob, first cooking it in the bacon fat.
Thanks to a huge pack of corn tortillas that we bought, we made tacos for breakfast and dinner for almost a whole week, topping them off with a corn and tomato salsa. Blanched corn cut off the cob is so easy to throw into a salad or salsa alongside tomatoes, avocado, peppers, cucumbers or any other combination of summer vegetable.
We picked up collard greens to make wraps again, like we did last summer. This time we made Vietnamese style spring rolls, subbing the blanched collard greens for rice paper.
For an easy collard greens salad that requires no cooking, we combined shredded leaves with shredded and julienned carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers (any veggies will do) and tossed them all in a simple dressing of mayonnaise, adobo sauce (hot sauce is a fine substitute) and a squeeze of lime juice.
The Kitchn has a delicious recipe for zucchini marinated in garlic, vinegar and fresh herbs. It can be eaten as an appetizer, side dish, or even lunch and, since it has to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, falls into the “make ahead” category.
Using our spiralizer we tried our hand at the gluten free chocolate chip zucchini noodle muffins from Inspiralized. Not too sweet and pretty easy, these were a crowd pleaser. The second time making them I snipped the noodles even shorter and broke down the walnuts into smaller pieces.
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries have been sufficiently snacked on as is, used as a natural dye for cookie icing (note: blueberries do not make blue dye!) and mixed into one-ingredient banana ice cream.
I’ve gotten into the habit of visiting the weekday Farmers’ Market right when it opens, partly to do my shopping before the produce is picked over, but partly because there’s something really magical about piles of beautiful summer produce in the quiet hours of the morning.