It’s here! It’s here!
The time all gardeners and foodies wait for through the cold stew-filled days of winter and the meager but promising Spring veggie offerings, finally…SUMMER!
There is abundance everywhere you look: a multitude of colors and shapes of squash, tomatoes, peppers and beans, neighbors with baskets of veggies to give to any and all takers, farmers markets filled with both people and overflowing tables of produce.
Nature is showing off and we all love it, but did you ever stop to consider there’s a purpose to each season’s produce.
It wasn’t until I started getting a produce box from local farms that I knew there is truly a rhythm and reason to our produce.
Buying veggies at a grocery store without this knowledge means you choose to buy tomatoes in January when they are coming from Chile or Asparagus in November when it’s coming from Peru. Strawberries will never taste as sweet and juicy in February-when they are bought up by the hundreds for covering in chocolate, as they are straight off the vine in June.
Buying from a local farm, either through farmers market or buyers’ club like ROCK means you know how the weather affects what you get to eat—Late freeze? No peaches for you! - and you learn the purpose for each season’s produce.
Take oranges for instance. Before I moved to California and witnessed them falling off people’s trees into their yards like crabapples do here in Texas, I thought they were available any time. Once I moved there and tasted them at their peak straight off the tree, I realized this is what they were meant to taste like: SUNSHINE. Sunshine just when the skies are gray and your heavy, winter diet and psyche need a boost. They also provide you the vitamin C you so radically need during cold and flu season.
Eating juicy tomatoes straight off the plant or feeling rehydrated after eating watermelon directly correlates with the fact that the produce you can get in Summer is full of water just when we need it the most.
Also, think about this, most summer veggies require salt to pull out their full flavor; whether a plate of fresh tomatoes or a cold slice of watermelon. When you are hot and your body is doing its thing and sweating, you need that salt to replenish electrolytes. (Just make sure you are using a good sea salt like Redmond’s Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt.)
Raw with a little salt is the easiest and most obvious way to enjoy summer produce, but another way to use up the bounty is to make salads.
No, not the green filled salads that take us through spring, but lush, composed salads that are like works of art. A mix of raw and lightly cooked veggies, a bit of fish, chicken or bacon for meaty texture and then you can add in whatever you want to take in almost any direction.
When I was in the South of France, I enjoyed Salade Nicoise several times (my favorite being right on the beach in Nice). This is a classic French recipe that layers tuna, not fresh but canned, with chunks of fresh tomatoes, barely cooked green beans, steamed young potatoes, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, olives and a light vinaigrette. Composed on a large plate, it truly resembles art. I have made this salad dozens of times since then and though it is great as is, when I have the chance to use fresh fish in its place, I take it.
I had just returned from a 10 day trip through California this week and got home to find green beans, cherry tomatoes, eggs and Smart Source wild-caught salmon, all from ROCK, in my fridge, needing to be cooked.
As it was nearing 100 degrees outside, I decided this was just such the occasion to use fresh fish to make my favorite summer salad. I could grill the potatoes and the salmon outside and other than quickly blanching the beans, I would just have to cut up veggies and make a vinaigrette. No heating up my kitchen…BONUS! I didn’t take the time to compose it, I just tossed it all together in a heap but the many colors still make it a beautiful plate.
If you want to get other ideas for using summer produce, you can visit Tablavie and search for a particular veggie.
And as an extra for ROCK folks who are buying up the Juliet and cherry tomatoes from Johson’s Backyard Garden, here’s a colorful recipe :
The Best Tomato Salad – This recipe highlights the shapes and sizes of tomatoes available throughout the summer and augments them with bacon (smoked or peppered) and a little fresh cheese – I used blue in this recipe, but you can use fresh mozzarella, feta or ricotta as well.
You will also want to subscribe to see how I make my own mayo using ROCK eggs…recipe and video coming soon.
Tossed Salade Nicoise
1 lb salmon filets, poached, grilled or broiled and broken into pieces
Olive oil, salt and pepper to season salmon
1 lb green beans, stems removed and cut or broken into 2” lengths
1 lb red or gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
1 lb mixed cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” chunks4 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into 1/4ths lengthwise or 2 duck eggs, cut into 1/8ths
A handful of good olives
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard, to taste
2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar (my sub apple cider if that’s all you have)
6 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Prep all Salad Ingedients.
- Make vinaigrette by whisking garlic, Dijon and vinegar. Slowly whisk in extra virgin olive oil until it creates an emulsified dressing.
- Place half the ingredients into the bottom of a large bowl.
- Toss all ingredients together gently with the vinaigrette