Eating Good in the Summertime With Fresh, Local Vegetables

Posted on August 9, 2009 by Courtney

Please welcome back today’s poster, Dianne.

Cherry Tomatoes

Toward the end of summer there are so many opportunities to eat not only healthily, but also locally! And that means plenty of fresh produce, fruits and herbs available at every turn, particularly tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and squash! Whether you visit your Farmer’s Market, are part of a CSA, grow your own or even visit a conventional supermarket, it’s extremely easy this time of year to find fresh, local produce!

So now what do you do with it? This is the fun part! I’m going to give you a peak at a lot of my favorite summertime recipes! Let’s get started.

Cucumber

Tomatoes and cucumbers are extremely delicious when they are fresh and local. But if you’re like me after you’ve eaten them for a week or two all by themselves you wonder what to do with them to shake things up a little. After all who wants boring food?

One of my favorite things to do with tomatoes and/or cucumbers is use them as a base for salads. There are so many ways you can do this and take a basic tomato or cucumber and “spice” it up a bit. Cucumbers and tomatoes pair together for a fabulous combination. You can even take a tomato and cucumber base and throw in some mozzarella pearls and rosemary for an elegant, yet simple main course or side dish. You can also just take fresh tomatoes and make an heirloom tomato salad with a few herbs and a little Parmesan cheese. Or how about a cool, crisp cucumber salad paired with dill? It’s very easy to make some great salads with just a few basic ingredients. You’ve got a fabulous dinner in no time and you don’t have to worry about heating up your house to eat! That’s my kind of summer dinner!

Another fun thing to do with fresh vegetables in general is to take salads to a whole new level and make pasta salads! These are good warm, or chilled, and are a hearty, yet healthy lunch or dinner that really hits the spot!

How about a whole wheat bow tie version with lots of fresh vegetables and some local goats cheese? Or how does a version with big chunks or fresh tomato and a little Parmesan sound? If you want something really hearty why not whip up a pasta salad using a stuffed pasta like tortellini? Whole grain pasta and fresh vegetables can really make a fabulous meal!

Tomatoes

Of course you can always make your own sauces, pickles and salsas using those fresh vegetables! You can make a traditional salsa that you either can or refrigerate or you can make a fresh salsa sort of like a pico de gallo with attitude! Or how about a salsa that leaves out tomatoes all together? Fresh tomato sauce is always good if you’re in the mood for pasta. You just can’t beat a fresh pasta topper. And let’s not forget the mighty cucumber! Refrigerator pickles are a good way to use up those little green gems too!

If you want something a little bit more substantial you can always use your vegetable bounty and include it into a larger dinner theme. How about some avocado and cherry tomato salsa to top fish or chicken? Vegetables are also great on the grill or broiled as kabobs! Or how about an old camping favorite…The hobo dinner! You can cook this over a camp fire, on the grill, or even in a toaster oven if you don’t want to heat up the big oven. How’s that for versatile?

And last but not least let’s talk a few baked goods!

One of my favorite things to make with fresh zucchini and tomatoes is summer pie! You can even add in squash or eggplant too! How about taking some fresh tomatoes and making a tomato and goat cheese pizza tart? Or how about a pizza with zucchini, fresh tomatoes and also a little goat cheese? And who could forget the quintessential summer zucchini bread?

Now I’m curious…What do you like to do with your fresh summer vegetables! Leave a comment below and let me know!

2 Comments +

  1. We enjoy eating fresh veggies all summer from our garden. From delicious lettuce in the spring, to peas in early summer. Perhaps my favorite is tomato season, we eat tomatoes in a variety of ways, but in the summer when they’re fresh we love to just slice them and eat them as a side dish. We do the same with cucumbers. We love zucchini simply steamed, grilled or saueteed and drizzled with some olive oil, salt, pepper and occationally some balsamic.

    I can, pickle, dry and freeze a lot of the stuff from our garden. In the winter we enjoy eating pickles of all kinds, tomato sauce in a variety of dishes, tomato soup and all kinds of chutneys, relishes & preserves.

    August 10th, 2009 at 8:35 am
    Comment by Chiot's Run
  2. I’ve been in touch with the farmer at my CSA and am going to get 30 or 40 lbs of tomatoes to can! I’ll probably make some salsa, tomato sauce and then just straight can the rest. I’m hoping to find some cucumbers too! I’ve made a jar of refrigerator dills that were really good, but I’d like to actually can some pickles too.

    August 10th, 2009 at 9:09 am
    Comment by Dianne

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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