30 easy ways to savor summer's harvest

Try these quick ideas for using the season’s best fruits and vegetables

Tomato salad

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Tomatoes

Feta tomato salad: Arrange sliced tomatoes on a platter and top with chopped or small leaves of fresh oregano and crumbled feta. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top and season with salt and pepper.

Slow-roasted tomatoes: Cut tomatoes in half and put on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbes de Provence, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast at 250° until shrunk by half but still juicy, about 8 hours. Serve on toasted baguette slices with fresh mozzarella.

Cherry tomato and garlic pan sauce: Sauté cherry tomatoes in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper until tomatoes pop, 5 to 10 minutes. Toss with pasta.

More: Fresh tomato recipes

green bean salad

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Green beans

Bean salad with mustard dressing: Whisk together plain yogurt, a little grainy mustard, a splash of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over chilled, cooked green beans.

Grilled green beans: On sheets of foil, toss green beans with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper, then seal to make packets. Grill packets over medium heat (350° to 450°) until beans are tender, about 8 minutes. 

Lemon strozzapreti pasta: Cook ½ lb. strozzapreti* or penne pasta, adding ½ lb. green beans to the pot during the last 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1½ cups whipping cream, zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is hot and blended. Toss cooked pasta and beans with cream sauce, 1/2 cup finely grated ­parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Serve with more parmesan.

*Elongated tube-shaped pasta; find at specialty-foods stores.

blue cheese cornbread

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Corn

Blue cheese cornbread: Add freshly cut corn kernels to your favorite cornbread batter along with blue cheese and chopped fresh chives. 

Jalapeño creamed corn: Simmer freshly cut corn kernels and some chopped jalapeño chile with a little milk just until corn is tender, then whirl a portion of the mixture in a blender until smooth. Return to pan and simmer briefly with a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir in some shredded cheddar or jack cheese if you like.

Grilled corn with parm spread: Whisk together equal parts mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and ketchup. Brush on grilled corn on the cob and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 

watermelon drink

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Watermelon

Watermelon sidecar: Whirl chunks of watermelon in a food processor until blended, then strain. Rub the rim of a martini glass with a cut lemon wedge, then dip rim in a shallow plate of sugar. Pour 3 tbsp. watermelon juice, 2 tbsp. brandy, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. Cointreau into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake thoroughly, then strain into glass. Garnish with watermelon wedges.

Watermelon prosciutto bites: Wrap watermelon cubes with prosciutto strips; secure with a toothpick.

Watermelon, arugula, and cotija salad: Toss arugula, chunks of watermelon, and crumbled cotija cheese with a lime juice and olive oil vinaigrette.

basil walnut pesto

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Basil

Lemon, basil, and walnut pesto: In a food processor, whirl 2 cups packed basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, ¼ cup olive oil, zest and juice of ½ lemon, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup toasted walnuts until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss pesto with cooked pasta and a little pasta water. Add more pepper and parmesan to taste.

Basil syrup: Simmer 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup water, and 1 large bunch chopped basil in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Let steep 20 minutes; strain. Use to sweeten iced tea or summery cocktails.

Cherry tomato and basil salad: In a salad bowl, mix whole basil leaves with cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and a red wine vinaigrette. 

Summer squash with parmesan

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Crookneck squash

Parmesan squash: Sauté sliced crook­neck squash and red onions with olive oil until golden and tender, then stir in shredded parmesan cheese.

Summer squash, white bean, and pesto soup: Sauté chopped onion and cubed crookneck squash in olive oil with salt and pepper until tender. Add chicken broth, drained and rinsed canned white beans, and chopped fresh oregano and parsley. Bring to a simmer. Top with a dollop of pesto. 

Grilled squash with lemon crème fraîche: Brush lengthwise slices of crookneck squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat (about 450°) until tender-crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix crème fraîche with lemon zest and chopped fresh dill and serve with squash.

Pepper chipotle dip

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Red peppers

Red pepper chipotle dip: Grill or broil 2 red peppers until blackened. Peel, seed, and stem. In a food processor, whirl peppers with ½ cup plain Greek yogurt and 1 canned chipotle chile until smooth. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl. Chill to thicken; top with sliced green onions. Serve with tortilla chips. 

Pepper- and fontina-stuffed chicken: Split chicken breasts lengthwise almost in half and open up like a book. Stuff with sliced fontina cheese and roasted red peppers. Seal openings with toothpicks. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill over medium heat (350° to 450°), turning once, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Grilled garlic-paprika peppers: Whisk together olive oil, chopped garlic, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and toss with bell pepper wedges. Grill wedges over medium-high heat (about 450°) until tender-crisp and slightly blackened, about 8 minutes.

Eggplant mozzarella salad

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Eggplant

Grilled eggplant and mozzarella salad: Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and grill over medium heat (350° to 450°) until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk together 1 tbsp. chopped preserved lemons, 1 tsp. lemon juice, and  ¼ cup olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing over alternating slices of fresh mozzarella and the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Spicy eggplant–goat cheese sandwiches: Whisk together mayonnaise and harissa* and spread on split crusty rolls. Fill sandwiches with goat cheese, arugula, and grilled eggplant slices.

*North African chile and spice paste; available at well-stocked grocery stores.

Turkish-style eggplant cream: Pierce 2 whole eggplants with a fork and roast in a 425° oven until very tender, 45 minutes. Cool, then scoop out pulp. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tbsp. flour and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1½ cups milk and cook, whisking, until thickened. Purée milk mixture in a food processor with eggplant pulp, ½ cup shredded kasseri cheese*, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve egg­plant sauce with lamb kebabs.

*Buy in the specialty cheese section. 

Plum pastry

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Plums

Almond plum galette: Whirl ¼ cup almond paste, 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar, and ¼ cup sour cream in a food processor. Roll pie pastry for a single crust into a 13-in. round and lay on a baking sheet. Evenly spread almond mixture on dough, leaving a 2-in. border. Arrange sliced red-skinned plums on top and fold dough edge over plums. Brush edge with milk and sprinkle brown sugar on top of galette. Bake at 375° until crust is golden, about 35 minutes.

Hoisin pork and plum skewers: Skewer chunks of pork tenderloin and red-skinned plum wedges on metal or wooden skewers (if wooden, soak 30 minutes). Whisk together equal parts hoisin sauce and water, brush onto skewers, and grill over medium heat (350° to 450°) until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Top with chopped fresh basil. 

Plum manchego pizza: Scatter sliced red-skinned plums, thinly sliced manchego cheese, and chopped fresh thyme over precooked thin-crust pizza dough, then bake until cheese melts.

Grilled cucumbers

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Summertime recipes: Cucumbers

Grilled cucumber with lemon-mint dressing: Split an English cucumber lengthwise, seed, rub with olive oil, then grill over medium heat (350° to 450°) until streaked brown, about 5 minutes per side. Cut into sticks and drizzle with a blend of chopped or small leaves of fresh mint, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. 

Quick pickles: Heat 1 cup white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp. sugar, a small handful of peppercorns, and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a small saucepan until sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over 1 English cucumber, cut into chunks. Add roughly chopped fresh dill and toss to coat. Let stand 45 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain, then serve.

Fattoush salad: Tear pita bread into pieces and toast in a frying pan with olive oil until golden, then toss with English cucumber chunks, slivered red onion, chopped pitted kalamata olives, crumbled manouri cheese*, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

*Buy in the specialty cheese section.

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