Seasonal Salads for the Final Days of Summer

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Head to any large grocery store chain and you’ll likely find an imported supply of warm-weather produce, even in the dead of winter. But once cooler weather settles in, you won’t find any of your favorite summertime crops at the local farmers market, and certainly not in your own garden.

In the battle of fresh versus imported, fresh always wins, so savor in-season produce at every opportunity before the bountiful supply of corn, tomatoes and zucchini runs dry until next year. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, turn to fresh, seasonal salads as a way to showcase the season’s bounty. Here are five fruits and vegetables you can’t miss, and a few salad recipes to help you make the most of each.

Avocado

Sure, it’s possible to purchase avocados year-round, but the vibrant green fruit seems most at home in fresh summer salads. For creaminess and light, airy texture, the chefs at Food Network Kitchen include ripe Hass avocados in their mealworthy Crab and Avocado Salad. For a festive end-of-summer side salad, try Bobby Flay’s Crunchy Avocado Salad loaded with blue corn tortilla chips and aromatic spices, like cumin and paprika.

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Corn

Showcase summer’s best corn while it’s still in season with Ina Garten’s off-the-cob Confetti Corn. Simply cook the kernels with onion and bell pepper and then toss with a mix of fresh green herbs from your garden. If you’re keen on getting in a few more outdoor grilled meals, then try Bobby Flay’s Grilled Corn Salad with Lime, Red Chili and Cotija. Bobby grills corn in its own husks to protect it before taking the smoky kernels off the cob and tossing them with Cotija cheese, lime juice, lime zest, ancho chile powder and creme fraiche.

Eggplant

Unlike American eggplant, the Japanese variety used in this Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad features a thinner skin and a less bitter flavor. If you plate the grilled eggplant first, then top it with the salad, the cheese will stay bright white and the herbs bright green. If you’re looking to use up the eggplant from your garden, try Food Network Kitchen’s 15-minute Grilled Eggplant Salad, which combines the sweetness of grilled red onions with pickled hot cherry peppers and refreshing herbs.

Mixed Squash

The natural flavors of zucchini, squash, mushrooms and baby golden beets shine in this 15-minute Shaved Summer Vegetable Salad drizzled with a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Zucchini sliced lengthwise grills up beautifully. Just toss it with some freshly grated cheese, crunchy nuts and a tangy vinaigrette to create a grill-master side dish like this Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette and Shaved Romano and Toasted Pine Nuts.

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Tomato

When you’re assembling a salad, tomatoes typically take on the supporting role. But as long as this versatile summer fruit is still in abundance, why not give it a solo? Pick up some multicolored cherry tomatoes at the farmers market and try out the Neelys’ Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing. Food Network Kitchen’s simple Tomato Salad is great way to use up what’s left from your garden.