It's truly amazing the variety of fruits and vegetables that are available in the grocery store all year round. From citrus fruits to tomatoes to squash to bell peppers, what the weather's like outside has ceased to matter when it comes to what you can get at the store. While it's great to have such variety all year, I notice a definite difference in the produce section when the weather starts to warm up. More variety is available and the fruits and vegetables often taste better than they did when I was buying them out of season.
The warmer weather also means the opening of farmers markets, which offer fresh, flavorful and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. What should you be looking out for this summer? Here are a few of my favorites that I've been waiting for all winter.
Sure, you can get tomatoes at the grocery store all year, but not in the variety of colors and flavors that appear in the spring and summer, especially if you go to a good farmers market. The growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes has meant a move away from the great-looking but completely tasteless tomatoes you usually find in the store. My tomato favorites? Fresh tomato sauce is definitely high on the list along with tomato soup. Honestly, though, eating them raw with fresh mozzarella and basil with a drizzle of olive oil on top is unbeatable during the summer.
Peaches are one of those fruits you really don't see in the store until the summer has started in earnest. Sure, you might find them if you really look hard during the winter, but they're often unripe and fairly tasteless. Summer peaches are incredibly versatile as an ingredient in your dishes and work great as a healthy way to sweeten just about anything. My personal favorites are alone as a post-workout snack, in smoothies, and as an occasional treat in a cobbler. If you're having a barbecue, you can also try them grilled!
Melons in general are hard to come by outside of the summer months, which makes the appearance of watermelon at the store a real treat. Watermelon makes a great snack for a day at the beach or the park, but I also love it as a sweet addition to salads with feta cheese or blue cheese. Few people realize that you can also use the rind in smoothies as a great source of nutrients that you'd otherwise toss in the garbage.
Fresh corn on the cob is another summer treat that's perfect for grilling. Just wrap it in foil with a few seasonings and you'll have a delicious treat that you can eat on the spot or keep as a snack for later. I also love making my own summer salsa with fresh corn (and a few heirloom tomatoes) as a replacement for the often unhealthy dips available at the grocery store. Corn also goes well in omelets or in soup on cooler days.
Pasta salads and other cold pasta dishes are a common favorite during the summer, but I like to pull out my spiralizer this time of year and put summer squash to work as a replacement for the carb-heavy noodle salads that are the norm. These also make for great decoration around your home for the few days before you cook them up and eat them. Another idea if you go overboard at the farmers market (common when I go shopping) is to try roasting all of your vegetables and throwing them in with some spiralized squash noodles for a "pasta" dinner.
These tasty veggies are a cooler weather plant, which means you'll see them showing up early in the season since they can be planted as soon as the weather starts to warm. These are another versatile food item since they're great on their own and as part of a dish. When they're in season, I like to bring a small bag with me to work to snack on throughout the day. They also go great in salads and you can briefly boil them and add some dressing if you want a warmer side dish. Finally, they're a great addition to stir fry, which is an easy dish to whip together if you're in a pinch for time and creativity.
So there you have it. Those are some of the fruits and vegetables I'm most excited to get my hands on this summer. Keep your eyes peeled at the grocery store for new arrivals and be creative with the variety of ingredients the summer has in store!