Cooking with in-season produce is highly advantageous for several reasons. Firstly, in-season produce is at its peak freshness, meaning it has been harvested recently and is packed with flavor, nutrients, and vibrant colors. This freshness enhances the overall taste and quality of the dishes, making them more enjoyable for diners. Secondly, in-season produce is typically more abundant and readily available, which often translates to lower costs and greater affordability. Additionally, cooking with in-season produce supports local farmers and the regional economy while reducing the environmental impact associated with long-distance transportation. Overall, embracing in-season produce allows chefs to create dishes that are delicious and nutritious but also sustainable, cost-effective, and reflective of the best flavors each season offers.
In the United States, summertime brings an abundance of fresh, flavorful, and vibrant produce.
Here are some foods that are in season during the summer, along with ideas for incorporating them into your restaurant menu:
Tomatoes: Summer is known for juicy and ripe tomatoes. They can be featured in salads, salsas, and bruschetta, or used as a key ingredient in pasta dishes, pizzas, and sandwiches. Consider creating a refreshing tomato gazpacho or a Caprese salad showcasing fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
Corn: Sweet corn is a staple of summer cuisine. Utilize fresh corn in dishes like corn on the cob, corn chowder, or grilled corn salads. You can incorporate corn kernels into tacos, fritters, or vegetable stir-fry, for added texture and flavor.
Berries: Summertime brings an array of berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. These can be incorporated into desserts like pies, tarts, or fruit salads. For a savory twist, consider adding berries to salads or using them as a glaze or sauce for grilled meats.
Peaches: Juicy peaches are a beloved summer fruit. They can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Feature peaches in desserts like cobblers, crisps, or ice creams. Alternatively, incorporate them into salads, salsas, or alongside grilled meats for a delightful combination of flavors.
Zucchini and Summer Squash: These versatile vegetables are abundant in summer. They can be used in various ways, such as grilling, sautéing, or spiralizing them into “zoodles” as a healthy pasta alternative. Incorporate zucchini and summer squash into salads, frittatas, or a side dish with a burst of seasonal herbs and spices.
Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons are refreshing and hydrating choices for summer. They can be used in fruit salads, smoothies, or as a base for chilled soups. Try combining melons with feta cheese, mint, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a unique and delicious appetizer or salad.
Fresh Herbs: Summer is an excellent time to experiment with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, and dill. Infuse these herbs into dressings, sauces, and marinades, or use them as a finishing touch on various dishes. Create herb-infused cocktails, mocktails, or refreshing flavored waters to enhance your beverage menu.
Embrace the abundance of fresh produce, herbs, and lighter ingredients to create meals that highlight the season’s flavors and provide a refreshing dining experience.