There’s nothing like that first bite of juicy watermelon on the hot days of summer. When the seasons turn and the sun comes out, it’s a great time to explore the latest, greatest produce and get into the summer spirit.
When you consume seasonal produce, you get a richer flavor and full nutrient composition because your produce is picked at peak ripeness. Buying produce seasonally also allows you to buy locally and support local farmers with a nod to sustainability. Moreover, it’s lighter on your wallet because there’s more produce available.
Fruits and vegetables are most flavorful, nutritious, and fresh when they are eaten in season. Below, we’re sharing our favorite summer fruits and vegetables and tips on how to incorporate these summer sweethearts into dishes.
Meet Watermelon’s (and mostly everyone else’s) best friend.
This aromatic herb with a spicy kick is a staple in many Italian recipes, but basil is one of the most versatile herbs to cook and create with. Blend it into your homemade pesto, add it to pizza, or tear it up to add some glam and garnish to your beverages. Watermelon basil margarita, anyone?
Beets can really do it all. They’re there for us for all our juices, soups, sides, and more, because they’re available during all seasons! What some may not know about beets: Their leaves are also edible. Use beet greens as your next salad base. They have a similar taste to Swiss chard but are sweeter.
3. Bell Peppers
Taste the rainbow. No really, what vegetable has more colors than bell peppers? Green, yellow, orange, red, sometimes purple and white, each color reflects its ripeness. The longer the pepper stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes and the more antioxidants it has. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals.
Red bell peppers are the sweetest (with the most vitamin C), followed by orange, yellow, and green being the most bitter. Roast them, grill them, sauté them, stuff them, or simply chop and enjoy with hummus at a picnic.
Popcorn or old reliable corn on the cob, this starch-filled vegetable is a great source of nutrients. Grown on every continent on the planet (except Antarctica), corn is packed with vitamin C and other minerals, while also providing a bit of fiber and protein. Its flavor erupts when an acid (like lime juice) is squeezed on top, or a spicy or earthy seasoning, such as tahini, is tossed in. Try it raw in corn salads, grill it, or check out more of our top corn recipes here.
Although too sour to eat on their own for our taste, limes are the perfect petite citrus fruit to squeeze over any protein for a refreshing aroma juxtaposed with barbecue flavors. While your meats are on the grill, take half a lime and squeeze directly on top, letting the juices sear with the smoke. Grilled limes are great muddled into cocktails too!
Having trouble staying hydrated in this summer heat? Make drinking water a bit more enticing by infusing it with mint. Mint may not add too notable a taste, so don’t be afraid to throw in other seasonal natural flavors to your water bottle like cucumbers, limes, or grapefruit.
We recommend filling up water bottles with these ingredients the night before, then tasting the freshness the next morning. Of course, mint is also great in cocktails — and there’s always grilled watermelon with mint.
Watermelon has come a long way since being enjoyed only by the classic triangular slice. It pairs well with a multitude of flavors (think: mint, chili pepper, and savory cheeses).
In addition to its versatility, it is also a great source of our favorite antioxidant, lycopene (just like tomatoes)! Get creative with watermelon this summer: Throw this fruit on the grill and let the heat caramelize the natural sugars for a refreshing and hydrating sweet treat.
Lemons aren’t just for turning your hair a shade lighter in the summer sun (or for making lemonade). Their sour juices are packed with a group of antioxidants called flavonoids. Growing scientific research has shown that flavonoids are anti-inflammatory, and potentially contain anticancer properties.
We know you’re not likely to slice up a lemon and eat it like an apple, so try infusing lemons into your water. (Mint leaves or blueberries make a nice combo if lemon alone is too tart.) This will keep you hydrated and refreshed, along with providing a great source of flavonoids. To add lemon at mealtimes, try baking lemon slices over salmon, or whisk the lemon juice into a zingy salad dressing.
Cucumbers are a fantastic choice for summer as they have a high water content, making them incredibly hydrating and refreshing. Slice cucumbers and toss them with some thinly sliced red onions, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and a light vinegar dressing. It makes for a cool and refreshing salad.
Add cucumber slices to a pitcher of water and let it infuse for a few hours. The result is a subtly flavored, refreshing drink that can help you stay hydrated in the summer heat. Spread cream cheese or hummus on slices of bread and layer them with thinly sliced cucumbers. Add some fresh herbs like dill or basil for extra flavor. These sandwiches are light, crisp, and ideal for a summer picnic or lunch. Blend cucumber slices with a combination of fruits like melon, pineapple, or berries, along with some ice and a splash of citrus juice. It creates a cooling and nutritious smoothie that can be enjoyed as a refreshing breakfast or snack.
Nothing beats the taste of fresh, ripe tomatoes during the summer. They are versatile and can be used in salads, salsas, or grilled. Tomatoes are naturally refreshing and cooling, making them perfect for summer recipes. Whether you're enjoying a salad with fresh mozzarella and basil, or a tomato and cucumber soup, they can help cool you down and provide a burst of flavor.
They can be a satisfying addition to meals without adding excessive calories, making them ideal for those looking for lighter summer fare. Enjoy them raw in salads, sliced for sandwiches, used as a base for sauces and salsas, roasted for a flavorful side dish, or blended into soups.
This versatile summer squash is low in calories and can be grilled, sautéed, or used in salads and pasta dishes. Many people enjoy making zucchini bread or muffins, adding a nutritious twist to baked goods.
While it is true that eggplant (known as Brinjal in India) is available year-round in many places, it is during the summer months that this versatile vegetable truly shines. It can be grilled, roasted, or used in creating delicious and satisfying meals. So, whether you enjoy eggplant as a main course, a side dish, or as part of a refreshing summer salad, it's availability and culinary versatility make it a fantastic choice for summer eating.
13. Green Beans
With their vibrant color and crunchy texture, green beans can add a sense of freshness and satisfaction to your meals. Whether steamed, stir-fried, or added to salads, green beans provide a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can contribute to overall well-being and a positive mindset.
The arrival of mangoes in the market signifies the arrival of the summer season for many people, enhancing the anticipation and enjoyment of this fruit. Their juicy and refreshing taste is reminiscent of sunshine and tropical vacations, making them a favorite summer fruit for many. Mangoes have a rich, sweet, and tropical flavor that is highly enjoyable, especially during the summer months.
Additionally, their juicy flesh and natural sweetness provide a cooling sensation when consumed, offering relief from the heat and adding to the summer experience. Mangoes can be enjoyed on their own, sliced and added to fruit salads, blended into refreshing smoothies, incorporated into salsas, or even used in desserts like mango pudding, mango sheera, mango ice cream, etc. It's no wonder why it has earned the title of the "king of fruits."
Whether you're enjoying a picnic, lounging by the pool, or simply looking for a refreshing snack, grapes are a fantastic choice for summer. Be it green, red, or black grapes, Their natural sweetness adds a burst of flavor to any dish. You can eat them as they are, add them to fruit salads, freeze them for a frozen treat, or even use them in recipes like grape salsa or grape sorbet. Grapes have a high water content, which can help keep you hydrated during hot summer days.
Remember, this is just a selection, and there are many more fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer months. Enjoy exploring the local produce available in your area!
Are you wasting food because it ripens, then rots, faster than you can eat it? Storing your fruits and vegetables the correct way can make all the difference. To keep produce fresher for longer, fully dry previously washed food items, use breathable produce bags to absorb air and moisture, and leave some produce out of the fridge. To learn a few more important tips, click here.