How To Use Up All Those Summer Fruits and Veggies

Forget canning and freezing!

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Photo by: Verdina Anna ©2013 Anna Verdina

Verdina Anna, 2013 Anna Verdina

Oh, summer. I wait all year for it to arrive – and bring sunny skies, lazy beach days and bushels full of ripe, juicy peaches. (I literally count down the other 270ish days of the year, waiting for my favorite season to come back around.) And then, just when I’m getting into the habit of weeknight grilling, day trips and caprese-ing everything, it’s time for back-to-school and all things pumpkin spice. Sigh.

How do I cope with my longing for endless summer? Impulse buying – at the farmers market! Come late August, I find myself with too many tomatoes, enough stone fruit to start a pie company and a mountain of corn on the cob. The only problem? You guessed it; Seasonal fruits and veggies don’t have a very long shelf life.

I could try to hold on to summer by canning, preserving or freezing my bounty of seasonal produce but there’s something so satisfying about enjoying these fruits and vegetables at the peak of their ripeness and flavor. That’s why I try to use everything up before it goes bad, enjoying some pretty delicious dinners and desserts along the way.

You’ve got summer produce too? I’ve got ideas.

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm 
Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin ,Food stylist: Jamie Kimm 
Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

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Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin ,Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Tomatoes

Ever since I was young, my favorite way to enjoy tomatoes was straight from the vine. There’s nothing like the juicy freshness of a ripe, summer tomato. That’s why I love turning them into a simple (no lettuce!) salad or incorporating them into homemade, restaurant-style salsa or pico de gallo for taco Tuesdays.

As an adult, I love tomatoes lightly roasted, too. A few minutes in the oven brings out their natural sweetness. Layer them over a homemade crust with a little cheese for a savory tart that will remind you of a sophisticated pizza. Or, make quick and easy tiny tomato tarts when you’re having guests over.

Corn

Time to start husking all of those ears of corn! The sweet buttery kernels are perfect for everything from weeknight family dinners (how about a spicy, elote-inspired side dish to take things up a notch?) to making a creamy, cheesy dip for game day snacking and entertaining.

Need lunch? Corn, farro and tomatoes over greens makes a delicious and satisfying salad and a hearty homemade corn chowder (topped with bacon, of course) is perfect for those late-summer days when it’s starting to feel more like fall.

Peaches

My favorite of all the seasonal summer produce, I never let a peach go to waste. When I’ve got more than I can eat I start incorporating them into my baking; Fresh peaches are perfect in rustic cakes or a batch of brunch-worthy pancakes. You can also take a few and turn them into a simple jam that’s great spread over toasted bread or as an accompaniment on your next cheese board.

Peaches work well in savory dishes too. Cook them gently and serve over chicken for a healthy dinner or enjoy them fresh (with some of those summer tomatoes) in a gorgeous caprese salad.

Zucchini

I love zoodles as much as the next person but sometimes you need a different approach for using up load of zucchini. Thinly sliced, this veggie is the perfect stand-in for tortillas when you want a healthy spin on enchiladas and stuffed with sausage and baked in the oven, zucchini makes a super flavorful side dish.

It’s also the perfect go-to for game day snacking. You can fry panko- and Parmesan-breaded zucchini sticks for an easy-to-grab bite or combine zucchini with corn for golden-brown fried (and fully fan-approved) fritters.

Geoffrey Zakarian makes a Cherry Lime Sparkler, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Geoffrey Zakarian makes a Cherry Lime Sparkler, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Cherries

How do I love thee, cherries? Let me count the ways: nestled into a rich, custardy French clafoutis, as a replacement for pineapple in upside-down cake, or baked into a buttery coffee cake that I can eat for breakfast all week long.

And, that’s not all; Cherries make the best healthy ice pops and the most refreshing sparkling drinks!

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