While the first official day of summer isn't until June 21, we're more than ready to start devouring the delicious summertime fruits and veggies that hit their prime this time of year. Try these 12 healthy recipes for mouthwatering ways to enjoy this month's most flavorful produce.
This peppery, leafy green tastes best when picked in warm summer months. Chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants, arugula is slightly more tangy tasting than its milder peers such as spinach or romaine, so it holds up well in heartier recipes in addition to being tossed in salads. Stir the leaves into pastas, add them to scrambled eggs, or scatter them on top of pizzas.
Shaved Vegetables and Arugula with Kefir-Chia Vinaigrette
Gruyere, Wild Mushroom, and Arugula Pizza
Yellow squash and zucchini are some of summer's most bountiful crops—a good thing, considering they're one of the most versatile veggies to use in your cooking. Low in calories and full of antioxidants, summer squash tastes great grilled, roasted, steamed, sautéed, or raw. Look for squash that's firm, brightly colored, and less than eight inches long, as it can become bitter when they grow any larger.
Ricotta and Zucchini Tomato Tart
Penne with Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Sugar Snap Peas
Corn is actually the most widely produced grain in the United States. Most of the crop is used for livestock feed and industrial products, such as starch, sweeteners, and fuel ethanol. Classic corn-on-the-cob, on the other hand, is a quintessential summer staple. Picked while still immature (before it becomes tough and starchy—the kind that's used in industry), sweet corn reaches its peak in June and July. Besides chomping it off the cob, corn also tastes amazing in dishes like succotash, soups, and salads.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pesto
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Artichoke Purée and Roasted Corn and Tomato Topping
These small, sweet treats are bursting with flavor and nutrition. Tart cherries have been linked with the ability to improve sleep and ease muscle soreness, while sweet ones may help fight cancer. Sour cherries are great for baking, and sweet varieties like Bing or Rainier are best for popping right in your mouth or mixing into smoothies and salads.
Cherry-Vanilla Breakfast Smoothie
Sour Cherry Compote with Cream
California, Georgia, and South Carolina produce most of U.S. supply of this juicy stone fruit, which peaks in flavor from June until August. To buy the perfect peach, look for evenly colored fruit that yields slightly if you squeeze it gently (use your whole hand, not your fingertips, to prevent bruising). Store at room temperature until ripe—they'll give off a sweet, flowery smell. While fresh peaches are delicious to simply bite into, try roasting, poaching, or grilling them to make a super-special summertime dish.
Mixed Green Salad with Peaches and Blackberries in Champagne Vinaigrette
Peach Yogurt Salad
When you're at the store or farmer's market, keep in mind that the smaller the berry, the greater the flavor, since large berries tend to have more water and a slightly diluted flavor. We don't need to tell you that strawberries are sublime in breakfast foods, from oatmeal to smoothies to yogurt, so here are some more unusual ways to use the summertime berry in savory dishes.
Grilled Chicken with Strawberry-Peach Salsa
Arugula Salad with Carrots, Celery, Asparagus, Strawberries, and Almonds
What's your fave fruit or vegetable of summer? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Shape_Magazine.