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16 End of Summer Produce to Add to Your Plate

When the calendar page lifts to August, the days begin to shorten and suddenly we’re faced with the end of the summer season. This time of the year provides some of the best fresh and locally grown produce.

Late summer provides the perfect opportunity to explore new flavors and old favorites. Why not try a family favorite with some sort of twist? As you enjoy these last days of summer and prepare for the upcoming school year, choose new food adventures. After all, why do adventures need to be contained to outdoor activities?

Plan your meals around the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are just coming into season. The end of summer with an explosion of fresh foods welcomes fun food adventures and explorations of favorite ingredients in new ways.

As July turns to August, apples ripen. Whether you pick your own or grab a bag at the grocery store, this is the time for apples. Apple everything! Apple pies, apple crisps, apple cinnamon oatmeal...

This herb easily steals the show in some dishes, but it’s also the classic mozzarella, basil, and tomato ensemble. Basil also comes in different varieties, including lemon, Thai, and lime basil. A favorite use for an overload of basil is homemade pesto! Yum.

Black-eyed Peas
Shelled or unshelled peas are the perfect complement to most meals. Serve these amazing late summer vegetables alongside a childhood favorite like homemade macaroni and cheese. Are you swooning yet?

These spicy friends keep meals interesting and help digestion. Of course, they might cause tears, too, so being sparing in how many chiles are added to a dish is kind. No tears or runny noses need to be a part of the spicy experience.

The taste of corn on the cob corn brings back so many summer memories... But corn doesn’t just have to be on the cob. Fresh corn can be a perfect off-the-cob side dish or a garnish to a salad. Corn comes in a bunch of varieties, too, such as sweet, white, yellow, and bi-color.

Pickle addicts unite, because fresh cucumbers can become the perfect pickle, too. Once again, certain types are better for pickling than others. But, cucumbers make for a lovely salad or a great dip companion during a picnic.

A classy compliment to late summer meals, figs in shades from purple to green dress up any dish. Figs go seamlessly in salads, breads, desserts, and even pizza. Explore the late summer taste of figs!

Nature’s juice boxes are the perfect grab-and-go snack. And grapes are delicious frozen as well. For a bit more fun, freeze grapes and drop them into a glass of water or juice for some bobbing, edible ice cubes.

Green Beans
This stringy vegetable reclines well alongside so many different dishes. Beans can be a side dish or even a part of the dish, whether chopped into a salad or cooked into a light summer soup. Green beans are also great baked or dehydrated and are easy and tasty dipping veggies.

Watermelons provide a lovely way of staying hydrated during the hot August days. For extra fun, challenge the family to a seed spitting contest. Keep watermelon for longer by popping small watermelon slices onto a tray and freeze them for a cool late summer treat (warning - do not defrost frozen watermelon!) Explore other types of melons including cantaloupes, honeydew, and muskmelons.

Often overlooked amongst the array of other exciting produce. okra gets the short stick in the vegetable world. Okra is amazing roasted or battered and fried, and it can be pickled too. Trying to entice the kids to eat Okra? Try okra hush puppies. Who can say no?

Grilling peaches is one of the best ways to eat peaches in the summer. But of course, peach pie and peach cobbler and peach frozen yogurt are a couple of other magical ways of eating this amazing summer fruit. Anyone else drooling?

Another fruit that truly benefits from a slight grill are pears. But this fruit also makes a killer salad, and it can be used alongside pork and even on pizza. Sometimes, the most delicious meals require a bit of imagination!

Summer Squash
Zucchini, crookneck, and pattypan overwhelm gardens, grocery store aisles, and farmer’s markets. These delicious squashes make a mean Ratatouille, mouth-watering grilled vegetables, or a lovely sauté. The wonder of squashes is their versatility.

Sweet Peppers
Red, orange, yellow, and green sweet peppers bring the party to salads and fajitas. The bright colors and sweet flavors delight the eye and tongue. Served with dip, peppers can be the healthy snack option at a party bursting with sugar and salt.

Whether a garnish or the main attraction, tomatoes anchor many different types of home cooked meals. Chopped and tossed with basil and oil, tomatoes served with mozzarella on toasted bread is a drool-worthy appetizer. Tomatoes come in many different varieties. Enjoy exploring all the possibilities!