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Make the Most of Summer Produce (Ultimate Recipe Swap)

Posted By Jessica Fisher On July 5, 2012 @ 2:50 am In Recipes,Summertime,URS | 27 Comments

Make the most of summer produce sales and freshness! Check out this round up of recipes featuring what’s at its peak during the summertime.

Sometime last August, our family started subscribing to a weekly produce delivery [3]. To say that it has changed the way we cook and eat is an understatement.

Ours is a year-round organic produce co-op. Unlike a typical CSA (community-supported agriculture) these fruits and vegetables are not grown in our county, but they are grown in state and without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They’re also extremely reasonably priced.

Each week we open our box to see what goodies are in store. On Fridays, I get a heads up about what will be in the box so that I can plan well. But, the amount and the quality is always a surprise. Usually it’s abundant and exceeds our expectations. On the off week when things aren’t so much, the folks at Abundant Harvest Organics [4] are quick to replace it.

Make the most of summer produce.

As a family, we’ve learned more about the California growing season as well as explored a whole range of tastes and textures. Plus, I’ve tried my hand at blanching, pickling, and jamming on a more regular basis.

The key to making the most of summer produce is knowing what to do with it when if comes your way. Maybe you find a great sale at the grocery store or a neighbor ding-dong ditches a barrel of zucchini on your front step. Maybe your produce box is full of something you don’t know what to do with.

You need to be prepared with an arsenal of recipes so that you can make the most of the onslaught of tasty fruit and veg.

If you’ve got a plentiful garden, belong to a CSA, or just want to make the most out of summer produce, here are some great recipes to try out with what’s fresh at hand. The list below culls from what’s in season during the summer months.

All I can say is, “Bon Appetit!”


My dad recently brought me 15 pounds of zucchini, despite my protests that AHO was doing a great job keeping me supplied. I baked and sauteed a lot of it. And then grated and froze what was left when I just couldn’t stand the sight of it. I know more’s in store for the coming weeks, so I’m brushing up on my zucchini recipes.

Zucchini is considered a high-risk crop for GMO’s [5]. It’s in your best interests to plant or buy organic zucchini.


There is nothing like a homegrown tomato. That is my one regret at not having the time, space, or resources for a home garden – no tomatoes in the backyard. Yum! We love to slice beefsteak tomatoes, drizzle them with vinaigrette or creamy caesar dressing and just eat them plain. So good!

When we did have a large garden, I gave two dehydrators a workout turning our roma tomatoes into the “sundried” version. Yum!

Nowadays, we usually enjoy tomatoes in salads, tacos, and sandwiches. I very rarely run out of uses, but when we have a surplus, they usually go into homemade pico de gallo [14]. There’s rarely any leftover.

But, I’ve got plenty of yummy recipes that call for fresh tomatoes.


Peppers are something that my dad grew a ton of when I was growing up. We ate them a lot throughout the summer. I loved it when he left them on the plant long enough to turn red. Did you know that some varieties will do this naturally? The red flesh was so crispy and sweet.

Since peppers are on the Dirty Dozen of foods with the most pesticide residue [21], I try to make sure that we’re only eating the organic variety. My kids all will eat them off a veggie tray, especially the sweet red ones.

Quite a few of us, though enjoy the spicy varieties as well, making peppers and chiles a welcome addition to our kitchen.


Hubby ranks a good peach as his favorite fruit. However, there are only so many fresh peaches one can eat. Unfortunately, none of us like the taste of cooked peaches, so pies and crumbles are out for our family. We enjoy it fresh, chopped into salsa or topping a shortcake.

Peaches are another of the Dirty Dozen [21] so be sure to buy the organic variety if you can.


I’ve never had a problem with surplus watermelon. Drips on the counter? Yes, but this fixes that [43].

Using up surplus watermelon? Not typically an issue. My kids can eat a small watermelon in one sitting. Easily. We tried watermelon lemonade once, but no one liked it. So, we just eat our watermelon freshly sliced or cubed into a fruit salad.

Watermelon is listed on the Clean 15 of produce with the least pesticide residue [21], so I have no qualms about buying the conventional kind when I see a great deal.


photo source: Shaina [48]


This is, indeed, plum season. We went through more than 15 pounds last month. We ate them fresh as well as made plum jam [49] and plum sorbet [50] and plum popsicles. And then we ran out.

I’m looking forward to baking with them in this cake [51] should we get some more in the produce box.


Basil is a tricky thing to store. We’ve gotten beautiful bouquets of basil over the last year. Until I got the hang of it, it often wilted into a sad, black mess. I’ve come up empty handed on the best storage method [55], so my trick is to use it right away — or grow your own and just pick it as needed.

If you do get it in your produce box this summer, use it right away. Easy ways to do this is to make a rustic basil sauce [55]. This is a nut-free, dairy-free version of pesto and is so versatile! Store it in the freezer if you don’t eat it all up right away.

Other uses for basil:


Last September I stocked up on the end-of-the-season corn. I blanched it and stored it in the freezer.

To blanch corn for freezing: Blanch in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from pot and immediately plunge into cold water for 5 to 6 minutes more. Drain and dry. Cut kernels from cob and package for freezing. Freeze.

We enjoyed tastes of summer all year long.

And this week’s produce box held the first of the season. Yeah! I know you might not have sweet corn just yet in your neck of the woods, but it’s coming soon! (I know this because my dad was a Minnesota corn farmer and the corn plants should be knee-high right about now.)

While corn shows up on the Clean 15 list for pesticides [21], it’s unfortunate that most conventional corn in the US has been genetically modified. Unless it’s organic, you can almost bet it will be a GMO. (Check here [5] for a list of GMO high-risk crops.)


I don’t honestly believe that the general public consumes a lot of eggplant, but it seems to be ubiquitous in produce boxes everywhere! Maybe this is because the general public does not consume a lot of eggplant, and they need to get rid of the excess harvest on us.

Regardless, I’ve found some tasty ways to incorporate eggplant into our diet. My new cookbook [67] features it in a number of recipes, including a delicious and easy Ratatouille. (Preorder [67]. Cough. cough.)

I’ve also discovered that eggplant cooked with other vegetables until soft blends into a wonderfully flavorful sauce that disappears into soups, sauces, and chilis. Oh, yes, it does. Just ask my people about that great chili they devoured! They saw no eggplant. No eggplant. (Ahem.)


I never knew that I liked blueberries until I had them fresh. Crisp and crunchy fresh. Wow! Who knew?

The blueberries I knew were soggy and mushy. These were amazing. While frozen berries are great for smoothies and baking, only fresh will do for plain ol’ eating. Yum!

Domestic blueberries are on the Dirty Dozen list [21], so be sure to buy organic if you can.

Make the most of summer produce!

Not only will you save money by purchasing these items when they are most plentiful but you’ll also enjoy them at their peak of freshness and flavor. I’m learning the value of eating seasonally. Not only is it cost effective and tastier, but this melange of summer produce makes the months of June, July, and August that much more precious.

Ultimate Recipe Swap

URS Guidelines

Remember: Each week at Ultimate Recipe Swap, there is a posted theme. You are welcome to share any recipe that fits the theme and contains a link back to Life as MOM. If you’re curious about the upcoming themes, I have a calendar here. [84] This week’s theme is Summer Produce.

If you have a recipe that fits the theme, please link it. However, things like Beef Strogonaff will be deleted from Chicken week because it doesn’t contain chicken. Please keep this meme as helpful to others as we can.

And don’t make me the bad guy! ;)

What is your favorite recipe for summer produce?

Article printed from Life As Mom: http://lifeasmom.com

URL to article: http://lifeasmom.com/2012/07/make-the-most-of-summer-produce-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

URLs in this post:

[1] RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/lifeasmom/oGdA

[2] free updates via email: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=lifeasmom/oGdA

[3] subscribing to a weekly produce delivery: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/09/a-review-of-abundant-harvest-organics/

[4] Abundant Harvest Organics: http://bit.ly/JYKCL9

[5] a high-risk crop for GMO’s: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

[6] Roasted Vegetables: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/06/roasted-vegetables/

[7] Vegetable Bolognese with Eggplant, Peppers, and Zucchini: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/10/vegetablebolognese-with-eggplant/

[8] Zucchini Muffins with Streusel Top: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/10/zucchini-muffins-with-streusel-top/

[9] Cheddar Cheese Soup with Zucchini, Broccoli, and Carrots: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/08/cheddar-cheese-soup-with-zucchini-broccoli-and-carrots/

[10] Bulk Batch Zucchini Bread: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/07/bulk-baking-zucchini-bread/

[11] Cinnamon Zucchini Waffles: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/08/cinnamon-zucchini-waffles-urs-zucchini.html

[12] Grilled Vegetable Kabobs: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/07/grilled-vegetable-kabobs-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

[13] Ruth’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake: http://lifeasmom.com/2009/04/ruths-chocolate-zucchini-cake.html

[14] homemade pico de gallo: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/08/pico-de-gallo/

[15] Paso Mom Tacos: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/03/paso-mom-tacos/

[16] Pesto Pizza with Feta: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/06/ultimate-recipe-swap-anything-goes-2.html

[17] Roasted Vegetable Soup with Oregano: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/09/roasted-vegetable-soup-with-fresh-oregano/

[18] Rice Pasta Salad: http://lifeasmom.com/2009/11/ultimate-recipe-swap-food.html

[19] Oven Roasted Tomatoes: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/05/oven-roasted-tomatoes/

[20] Fresh Salsa with Garden Tomatoes: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/08/fresh-salsa-with-garden-tomatoes/

[21] Dirty Dozen of foods with the most pesticide residue: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

[22] Jalapeno Cheese Dip: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/02/hot-dips-for-cold-nights-recipe-jalapeno-cheese-dip/

[23] Easy Jalapeno Poppers with Rice and Bacon: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/12/easy-jalapeno-poppers-with-rice-and-bacon/

[24] Grilled Mini Peppers: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/06/grilled-mini-peppers/

[25] How to Roast Chiles: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/05/how-to-roast-chiles/

[26] Jalapeno Popper Potatoes: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/10/jalapeno-popper-potatoes.html

[27] Poblano Chile Enchiladas: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/05/poblano-chile-enchiladas-and-an-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

[28] Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/03/quinoa-stuffed-bell-peppers-guest-post/

[29] Black Bean and Cheese Pie: http://lifeasmom.com/2008/07/black-bean-and-cheese-pie.html

[30] Bratwurst with Sauteed Peppers and Onions: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/02/bratwurst-with-sauteed-peppers-and/

[31] Peach Shortcakes with Butter Pecan Ice Cream: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/06/nectarine-peach-shortcakes-with-butter/

[32] Spiced Grilled Fish with Peach Salsa: http://lifeasmom.com/2009/05/ultimate-recipe-swap-birthday-dinner.html

[33] Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone Whip and Raspberry Sauce: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2011/07/grilled-peaches-mascarpone-whip-fresh-raspberry-sauce.html

[34] Grilled Pork Chops, Peaches, and Red Onions: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2011/09/grilled-pork-chops-peaches-and-red-onions-%E2%80%93-friday-night-bite.html

[35] Ginger Peach Iced Tea Popsicles: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/ginger-peach-iced-tea-popsicles-at-the-end-of-summer

[36] Raspberry Peach White Wine Jam: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/raspberry-peach-white-wine-jam-to-celebrate-summer

[37] Peach Freezer Smoothies: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/quick-school-lunch-tip-peach-freezer-smoothies

[38] Peaches and Coconut Cream Muffins: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/peaches-and-coconut-cream-muffins-to-warm-the-soul

[39] Peach Mango Salsa: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/peach_mango_salsa

[40] Peach, Raspberry, and Blueberry Cobbler: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2010/08/peach-raspberry-and-blueberry-cobbler.html

[41] Balsamic Peach BBQ Sauce: http://www.savoringthethyme.com/2012/06/cvs-extracare-rewards-purse-to-plate-featuring-a-balsamic-peach-barbeque-bbq-sauce-with-ribs-recipe/

[42] Grilled Peach and Haloumi Salad: http://www.simplebites.net/grilling-fruit-recipe-grilled-peach-and-haloumi-salad/

[43] this fixes that: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/06/keep-those-juices-flowing-off/

[44] Watermelon Lime Sorbet Slices: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/watermelon-lime-sorbet-slices/

[45] Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2012/05/sparkling-watermelon-limeade.html

[46] Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2010/07/watermelon-feta-and-mint-salad.html

[47] Watermelon, Feta, Basil Salad with Cherry Balsamic Reduction: http://www.savoringthethyme.com/2011/09/watermelon-feta-basil-salad-with-cherry-balsamic-reduction/

[48] Image: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/zwetschgenkuchen-is-a-plum-cake

[49] plum jam: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/06/grocery-geek-the-canning-adventures-continue/

[50] plum sorbet: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/06/grocery-geek-well-hmmm/

[51] this cake: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/10/10-frugal-fall-snacks-for-hungry-kids-recipe-spiced-pear-cake.html

[52] Plum Pudding Cake: http://tammysrecipes.com/plum_pudding_cake

[53] Plum Sorbet: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/plum_sorbet/

[54] Spiced Plum Jam: http://www.simplebites.net/for-the-love-of-small-batch-canning-recipe-spiced-plum-jam/

[55] empty handed on the best storage method: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/10/rustic-basil-sauce/

[56] Fresh Basil and Garlic Chive Lasagne: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/09/fresh-basil-and-garlic-chive-lasagne/

[57] Sundried Tomato and Brie Pasta: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/12/sundried-tomato-brie-pasta-whats-on-your-plate/

[58] Herbed Butter: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/10/herbed-butter/

[59] Goat Cheese Pesto Pizza with Fresh Vegetables: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/07/goat-cheese-pesto-pizza-with-fresh-vegetables/

[60] Pesto and Feta Pasta Salad with Dried Cranberries: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/03/pesto-feta-pasta-salad-with-cranberries/

[61] Garlicky Anchovy Vinaigrette: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/05/chefs-salad-with-a-garlicky-anchovy-vinaigrette/

[62] Herbed Mayonnaise for Artichokes: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/04/sauces-for-artichokes/

[63] Escalloped Corn: http://lifeasmom.com/2008/11/recipe-swap-thanksgiving-vegetables.html

[64] Sauteed Corn with Fresh Thyme: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/11/sauteed-corn-with-fresh-thyme/

[65] Corn Salad: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/09/corn-salad-give-leftovers-new-life/

[66] Grilled Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob: http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/2010/06/grilled-bacon-wrapped-corn-on-cob.html

[67] My new cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1558327568/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1558327568&linkCode=as2&tag=oflwtf-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1558327568

[68] Beef and Eggplant Stew: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/10/beef-eggplant-stew-cozy-suppers-an-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

[69] Sauteed Eggplant: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/08/sauteed-eggplant-whats-on-your-plate/

[70] Grilled Eggplant Panini with Rosemary Garlic Aioli: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2009/08/grilled-eggplant-panini-with-rosemary-garlic-aioli.html

[71] Alea’s Eggplant Pizza Bites: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2010/08/basic-recipe-template-2.html

[72] Thai Red Curry: http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/saying-goodbye-to-summer-with-thai-red-curry

[73] Eggplant Parmigiana: http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2010/08/18/eggplant-parmigiana-in-a-pasta-sauce/

[74] Stuffed Eggplant: http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2010/08/17/stuffed-eggplant-from-spain-via-the-midwest/

[75] Blueberry Pineapple Smoothie: http://lifeasmom.com/2008/05/berry-me-please.html

[76] Mixed Berry Pie with Cinnamon and Lemon: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/03/mixed-berry-pie-with-cinnamon-and-lemon/

[77] Blueberry Nutmeg Muffins: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/07/blueberry-nutmeg-muffins/

[78] Lemon Blueberry Scones: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/08/lemon-blueberry-scones/

[79] How to Freeze Berries: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/06/how-to-freeze-berries/

[80] Multi-Grain Blueberry Pancakes: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/11/multi-grain-blueberry-pancakes/

[81] Layered Fruit Salad: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/08/layered-fruit-salad/

[82] Lemon Blueberry Panna Cotta: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/07/guest-post-lemon-blueberry-panna-cotta/

[83] Red, White and Blue Trifle: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/07/red-white-and-blue-trifle/

[84] have a calendar here.: http://lifeasmom.com/features/ultimate-recipe-swap

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