Herbs on Ice
Got a beautiful bunch of herbs but only need a couple sprigs? Chop the rest and divide among ice cube trays. Top with water and freeze. Later, store the cubes in freezer bags to grab as needed for soups or sauces. Or, drop them into cocktails (try pairing mint with bourbon, basil with strawberries and vodka) for a refreshing flavor twist.
For a versatile take on the same theme, whir up a quick pesto with fresh basil, cilantro, or parsley, then add olive oil, and garlic, and freeze in ice cube trays. Defrost as needed—or simply toss with hot pasta. Note: If adding cheese to your pesto, do so after defrosting for best results.
Love watermelon? You haven’t enjoyed it fully until trying this sweet fruit in a savory salad. Combine it with slices of ripe tomatoes and red onion, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar for a refreshing and unexpected summer side. Try: Savory Watermelon Salad
Plump English peas are a delight eaten right out of the pod. But for a little extra zing, try pairing them with fresh mint. Just toss torn leaves in with the cooked peas (use frozen Green Giant peas if you don’t feel like shelling!), sprinkle with salt, and you’re done. For a heartier dish, try the same combo in this recipe for Minted Potatoes, Peas and Leeks.
Berries for Breakfast
There are few things sweeter than juicy berries in season. For a quick breakfast, try layering blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries with low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt and Cascadian Farm Granola. A perfect parfait!
Eggplant abounds in late summer at farmers markets. If traditional fried preparations feel too heavy for hot-weather, try lightly brushing eggplant slices with olive oil and giving them a quick grill. Layer with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil for a satisfying spin on the classic caprese salad.
If you brought home a bumper crop of cucumbers, don’t worry—just get pickling. A quick internet search reveals dozens of pickling recipes, but all you really need is some vinegar, sugar, salt, and your favorite herbs and spices. Bring a brine to simmer on the stove, pour it over your sliced cukes, let cool, and enjoy!
Think beyond salad when it comes to greens, which are at their prime in early summer. Use the wide, flexible leaves of butter, red leaf, or romaine lettuce in place of bread for low-carb, healthier roll-up style sandwiches: Top each leaf with a slice of chicken or, turkey breast, or ham from the deli, add cheese and a squirt of mustard or light mayo, roll up and secure with a toothpick. Try: Lettuce Bundles and Spicy Lettuce Wraps
Homemade Ice Pops
You can make kid-pleasing ice pops almost as easily as you can buy them: Just toss some fresh fruit—like berries, sliced and peeled peaches, or watermelon—in a blender with a pinch of sugar, lemon juice and water, then pour into pop molds and freeze. Swirl in some yogurt, if you like, for a bit of tang and boost of calcium. Try: Strawberry Peach Pops
Sweet corn, when in season, often doesn’t need a thing. But if you’d like to give dinner some real zing, try tossing freshly husked cobs on the grill then finish them with seasonings like cumin, garlic powder, and fresh cilantro. Pile high on a serving platter and watch them disappear! Try: Grilled Southwestern Corn
Got a family that adores salty snacks? You don’t have to break out the potato chips every time. Kale—that insanely nutritious leafy green that your kids like to push around their dinner plates—becomes an addictive snack when misted with oil, dusted lightly with salt and baked. Simply place seasoned leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until crackly crisp (about 20 minutes). For a kick, try your kale chips with hot sauce.
Want a lighter alternative to your favorite pasta dish? Try zucchini in place of noodles. Slice a bunch of it into thin strips and sauté with a little butter or olive oil until just tender. Serve as-is for a simple side or top with your favorite pasta sauce, pesto or shredded cheese.