This month, it TRULY feels like summer has arrived. The temperature is hovering around 75 to 85 degrees F here in Seattle (that's 26 - 30C). There's tons of fresh berries and fruits, lots of summer greens, and my favorite of them all - TOMATOES!
As always, you might see variations in produce based on where you live. As always, I’ve tried to keep this list to the top 5-6 things that are in-season and broadly available across the US. For more seasonal recipes, don’t forget to follow my boards on Pinterest. Let's jump in to this month's produce guide and some recipes you can cook with them here.
Okay, I gave this one away. But seriously, tomatoes are one of my favorite parts of summer. When you have a good heirloom or garden tomato, you'll not need much else (maybe a sprinkle of salt) to make them taste amazing.
Some of my favorite recipes with fresh summer vine or heirloom tomatoes:
- Fresh and vibrant Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil grown in my own garden
- Authentic, vegan and gluten-free gazpacho, a chilled soup made with tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, and sweet onions - perfect for all the summer BBQs and to cool yourself off
There are plenty of other recipes with tomato as a base (so you can pick up any variety of tomato from the supermarket for these)
Using summer tomatoes in the winter
You might know that I do a lot of work on food systems in my professional life. As a result, I don't buy fresh tomatoes outside summer. Here's why.
Most winter tomatoes in the US come from Florida or Mexico. To start with, they're absolutely tasteless when compared to fresh summer ones. Right? But even more importantly, there are massive issues around pesticide use, human rights violations, and trade issues leading to loss of livelihoods.
So, when we reach the end of summer, I urge you to buy tomatoes and then freeze or can them. Or if that sounds like too much work, you can just reach for canned tomatoes in the winter. I promise you, you'll be happier for it!
🍓 Summer Berries
Okay, I'm lumping all of these together here but boy, oh boy - the Seattle grocery store shelves are full of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, you name it. I hope your grocery shelves look the same.
When possible, I strongly recommend buying organic berries if you can. Though they're slightly more expensive, they have far less pesticide residue. This is especially true for strawberries - but applicable to raspberries and blueberries as well.
I love using fresh berries in simple desserts during the summer. These are excellent for BBQ cookouts, Fourth of July or Labor Day parties (when we're all allowed to mingle again) or just having a light dessert for no reason. My three favorite ways to use up berries in the summer:
- Delicious strawberry shortcake cookies that are like fluffy little pockets of heaven in your mouth - and super simple to make!
- Super simple berry galette made with storebought pie crust, and a mad mash of berries in the center - check out the post for a secret tip on how to make sure your berries don't water down your galette
- Delicious berry compote to top off your classic French toast - it's a great way to use up berries that you bought last week and want to use up before they go bad! Or this strawberry simple syrup when you want something light but delicious to top off all your beverages.
🥬 Summer Greens and Herbs
We're still going strong with the summer greens. Here in Seattle we have arugula, baby spinach, mustard greens, Collard greens, and Swiss chard. And a plethora of herbs, including tarragon, rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil. That's just the start of the list!
These summer greens and herbs make for the best salads and dips, and really freshen up your day. Plus, they're perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. My favorite ways to use up summer greens and herbs?
- Delicious and fragrant basil pesto, hand ground in a mortar and pestle the traditional way (or you can use a food processor too!)
- Summer tortellini salad with spinach and pesto vinaigrette - served chilled, and perfect as a side or great for make-ahead lunches!
- Spinach and avocado salad topped with cherry tomatoes or strawberries and a light lemony vinaigrette to bring it all together
- Roasted beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, toasted pistachios topped off with a summery citrus vinaigrette
Okay, I've written a love poem to mango many, many times on this blog. And it is with a heavy heart that I admit this - the mangoes in the US are simply not the same as the ones in India. Seriously. India produces over 1500 varieties of mangoes, of which 1000 varieties are sold commercially. Where I grew up, we ate something called "Banganapalli" - these giant, golden fleshed mangoes that were sweet and juicy and just delicious. My mouth is watering as I think about those days.
Here in the US, I've found Mexican or Dominican mangoes to be the closest to what I used to eat in India. Or alternatively, if you have an Indian store near you, check out their mango selection. They'll also typically have mango pulp, which is a game changer for smoothies and such.
Two of my favorite ways to eat mangoes? Mango lassi, of course. The sweet, cold, yogurt drink that is a staple during Indian summers. Then there's mango salsa - which I learned to make for my partner, who loves to eat it with salmon. Topped with crunchy red onions, cilantro and a bit of heat from jalapenos, mango salsa is a great topping for almost any taco too!
We can't really talk about summer without talking about corn on the cob, amirite? I love corn. In India, you'd almost always find charred corn on the cob in the beaches, topped off with a pinch of chili powder and rubbed with lime. And it's SO delicious.
I am working on an ultimate guide to cooking corn where I've written about all the ways to cook and eat corn - using a microwave, steaming it in a pot, using an Instant Pot and grilling it. But really, the easiest way to do it? Cover with some paper towels and pop in the microwave for 2 to 4 minutes.
And if you feel inspired, you can mix it up with some cotija cheese, jalapenos, and a few other things and throw it on avocado toast to make a Mexican street corn toast unlike nothing else.
🥒 Other summer produce
Summer is a time of abundance, so there's tons of other vegetables that I love cooking with that I haven't included in the list above. There's also plums, cherries and peppers; potatoes, squash, green beans, and some forms of cabbage. Oh, and I forgot eggplants.
Check out some of my other refreshing and light summer recipes below:
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