Summer is the time for farmer’s markets, gardens, roadside stands, and lots of fresh produce! Sometimes you might end up with more than you know what to do with, or maybe you don’t know how to use it to begin with. Here are a few tips for using all the fresh fruits and vegetables available this summer.
1 – Use them in every meal! Do you have a few meals that are staples in your house? We sure do! And during the summer I change them up by adding whatever fruits and vegetables I have to the mix. One of my favorites is pasta salad because you can add pretty much any combination of vegetables to the pasta, throw in a little cheese and dressing and you’ve got dinner! Try adding veggies to your favorite casseroles, enchiladas, stir fries, sushi, curry, pizza, and more.
2 – Experiment with them in your baking. Ever had too many zucchini and decided to make zucchini bread? Did you know there are a million other recipes out there for baking with extra vegetables and fruits? Anything from zucchini cornbread to blueberry muffins to chocolate cake made with pureed tomatoes.
3 – Add them to your breakfasts. Throw some berries in with your cereal or on top of your pancakes. Make a smoothie with fresh fruits, and if you’re brave throw in a handful or two of spinach. Add fresh tomatoes and peppers to your omelets or make some fresh salsa for your breakfast casserole.
4 – Juice them. Make juice out of the fruits for a refreshing drink, or freeze it for a tasty treat later. Whip up some tomato juice to go along with dinner and throw in some peppers for a little kick. But you don’t have to just drink your juice creations; they can also be used as the base for a soup or as a liquid substitute in your baked goods.
5 – Preserve them. Blanch your vegetables and pack them away in your freezer. Make fruit jams and jellies. Spread some berries on a cookie sheet to quick freeze before storing them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. You can also invest in a pressure cooker, boiling water bath canner, or food dehydrator for additional food preservation once your freezer fills up.
No matter how you’re using your fruits and veggies, make sure you take advantage of all the local food that’s in season! Not only is it delicious and extremely healthy, but it is also more affordable and helps support your local economy! Try out the ideas above, and be sure to add lots of color to your plate this summer!