Vegetables can be found in supermarkets year round, but nothing is more enjoyable than the summer assortment. The reason? Many are locally grown, so they are fresher than if they had hitched a ride from Mexico or California. In fact, the experience is so wonderful you can even taste the freshness!
So what are some varieties to try? Here are a few ideas.
- Corn. Fresh corn is probably one of the more popular summer vegetables, and the delicious taste explains why. The more common types are butter and sugar, white, and yellow. As far as cooking goes, corn is typically de-husked and boiled in water for 3 to 6 minutes. It is also yummy on the grill (it is not unusual to keep the husks on). A bonus? Corn offers a nice dose of fiber and vitamin C.
- Arugula. Okay, so maybe you have seen the name, particularly in bistro-type restaurants, but you’re still not certain what it is all about. Arugula is a leafy vegetable that is often used in salads. Its taste can range from mild (smaller leaf variety) to something considerably stronger flavored (larger leaf). Arugula is packed with nutrients like calcium and vitamin C.
- Cucumbers. Cucumbers are a much-loved favorite; when the salad bowl is being passed around, mostly everyone wants to make sure that at least one slice is on their plate. Cucumbers should not be restricted to salads, though. They can be used in sandwiches, as appetizers (with a dollop of peanut butter, shredded cheddar, or cream cheese), and as a stand-alone evening snack. Cucumbers contain vitamin C and are packed with water (so they’re great for hydrating).
- Avocados. Avocados can be an odd sort. Some people love them, while others don’t even know what they look like. This tasty vegetable is best known for its use in Mexican food, particularly guacamole. It can also be mashed or included in spicy salsa. Avocados are high in many nutrients including vitamins A, C, and B6. They should be stored at room temperature and are ready to eat when pressure on the outside skin yields moderate give (kind of like a yoga mat). If they are hard like an apple, they are not yet ripe.
- Eggplant. Eggplant is a staple food in many Mediterranean countries. It offers a healthy (and hearty) measure of culinary pleasure. This veggie can be breaded and fried, scooped out and stuffed, brushed with oil and grilled, and so much more. Extra-virgin olive oil always seems to complement its taste, so use when on hand.
- Zucchini. Okay, what would the warmer months be like without zucchini? It seems synonymous with the summer. This versatile vegetable can be sliced and sautéed with onions and eggs, coated in bread crumbs (or flour) and fried, tossed in a stir fry, added to soups, seasoned and baked, etc. Oh, and the blossoms? They’re delectable (make a batter from flour and egg and fry in olive oil until slightly golden). Just be sure to pick the blossoms that stand alone (male) if you are growing zucchini. The flowers attached to the zucchini plant (female) might not yield the fruit if the blossoms are removed.
- Peppers. Peppers are delightful at any time, but they are especially enjoyable in the summer. They provide vitamins A & C and are adaptable when cooking. For example, peppers can be stuffed and baked, sliced and sautéed, cut and roasted, added to egg dishes, sautéed with sausage and onions, topped on salads, the options are many!
Summer vegetables are wonderful, filled with nutrients, and please the palate. It is important to remember to take notice of the vegetables’ appearance when making your selections, though, as it can be an indication of freshness.
Next week, think peas. But for now, be sure to eat your veggies!