This time of year, it’s always exciting to stroll down the colorful produce aisle and check out what delicious fruits and vegetables have just arrived from local farms. The bounty is endless! However, knowing what’s in season is just the first step, it’s also just as important to know how to select, store and cook what’s peak of season. Below, I’ve provided a few tips for some of the most popular summer produce items, as well as some unique and easy ways to include them in your diet.
Who doesn’t love the taste of fresh Jersey tomatoes! Make tomatoes the star appetizer in a Caprese salad. Get those creative juices flowing and decorate a serving platter. Simply alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese, using fresh basil leaves to separate each pair. Use salt and black pepper to taste, drizzle olive oil and balsamic reduction to finish. Remember to store ripened tomatoes at room temperature, away from sunlight.
Summer is often referred to as “stone fruit season” since apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums, aka “stone fruits” are all popular summer fruits. These fruits should be stored at room temperature. Once ripened, and a sweet smell is given off, store the fruits in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Try grilling nectarines and peaches during your next barbecue!
Watermelon is an all-star fruit since it’s an excellenturce of vitamin A vitamin C, and also includes vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, and phosphorus, among others. Since watermelon is 92% water, it is delicious way to stay hydrated on a hot day. Remember to wash the skin before cutting into a watermelon. Make watermelon the star of a salad by pairing with fresh mint and basil leaves, feta cheese, and whisking together lime juice and olive oil for a dressing – game changer!
Are you storing your cucumbers correctly? Research has shown that cucumbers do not do well in temperatures below 50 degrees, so take those cucumbers out of the fridge and store at room temperature. Besides making a great addition to the previous watermelon recipe, infuse your water with cucumber and mint for a refreshing flavor that is sure to quench your thirst.
Keep your berries fresh by rinsing only before eating. Water can increase the risk of developing mold, so rinse berries rather than submerging them in water. Berries love air circulation, avoid the crisper and store in a colander in the fridge rather than a bowl. Add berries as a topping to yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal.
Fill those dinner plates with green beans as they are in season from June through September. They are a good ofurce of vitamin C, and can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. A great way to prepare them is by blanching in hot water for 2-4 minutes, sautéing in hot olive oil and caramelized onions and topping with feta cheese.
Other produce in season include: avocados, beets, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, limes, mangoes, okra, onions, peas, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini.
For more information on fresh summer produce, stop in your local ShopRite or visit ShopRite.com
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 14 minutes | Serves 4
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 to 3 tbsp. ShopRite Imported olive oil
1 tsp. ShopRite yellow mustard
1 (5-oz.) pkg. mixed salad greens
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
Per serving: 300 calories, 17g fat, 3g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 23g protein
Make it a meal: Serve with multi-grain rolls and sliced fresh watermelon.
Written By: Phyllis LoDuca, RD, LDN, Retail Dietitian at ShopRite