Cooking with Summer Ingredients

One of the most wonderful things about summer (besides cloudless days and vacation, of course) is all the fresh produce. Here are some great recipes that showcase the best fruits and vegetables coming up right now.

Apricot

Apricots

The Latin name for this fruit, praecoquum, means literally “early ripening peach.”

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

The color of a bell pepper depends on the variety and the stage of ripeness. Almost all peppers start out green and ripen to another color. Red, orange, and yellow peppers are riper, sweeter, and pricier than green peppers.

Blackberries

Blackberries

The largest of the wild berries, blackberries can grow up to an inch long. Look for ones that are deep purple-black with no hull (a hull indicates they were picked prematurely).

Blueberries

Blueberries

This berry is native to North America and has been used in recipes since Colonial times.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

This melon is named after one of the papal villas near Rome, though most of the fruit marketed as cantaloupes in the U.S. is in fact muskmelons. You can use them interchangeably.

cherries

Cherries

This petite stone fruit is native to the Balkans and has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for more than 2,000 years. Choose cherries that are firm but not hard, with a nice shine.

Corn

Corn

Corn begins converting its sugar to starch the moment it’s picked, so eat it right away!

Cucumber

Cucumber

Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, likely native to India. Columbus introduced them to the New World in 1494. Their flesh can be more than 90 percent water.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Until the Renaissance, Italians believed eggplants to be poisonous; the Italian word for eggplant, melanzana, derives from the Latin mala insana, “apple of madness.”

lima beans

Lima Beans

These kidney-shaped shell beans are named for their city of origin: Lima, Peru. When buying fresh beans, go for those in plump, dark green pods, and shell them just prior to cooking.

nectarines

Nectarines

Nectarines are thought to be a mutant of the peach. Their name comes from the Greek word for “sweet liquid,” nektar.

Peaches

Peaches

Peaches originated in China, where they grew wild as a small, sour, rather hairy fruit. Yum.

plums

Plums

Although references to plums are found in ancient Egyptian and Etruscan cultures, the Chinese were the first to cultivate this stone fruit.

pluots

Pluots

Along with apriums and plumcots, pluots are a hybrid of apricots and plums. They have a higher proportion of plum than apricot and a sweet, complex flavor reminiscent of passion fruit.

raspberries

Raspberries

Similar to other wild berries, each individual raspberry is actually a cluster of small fruit sections surrounding a central core.

summer squash

Summer Squash

Varieties such as crookneck, pattypan, and zucchini come in all kinds of fun shapes. Look for small ones (they are less watery) that are brightly colored and firm.

tomatoes

Tomatoes

At different points in history, tomatoes had a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac and a deadly poison. We now know they’re neither, but they’re awfully good in a salad.

watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelons, native to Africa, have been cultivated since 2000 BCE in Egypt. A ripe melon will sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.

zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini is now available year round, but this and other soft-skinned squash are at their best during the spring and summer months.

Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini Blossoms

All squash plants produce both male and female blossoms: The former are attached to the stalk, and the latter to the fruit. You can use either in this recipe.