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Chatelaine Kitchen

5 easy summer dishes using what’s in store now

Simple recipes starring fresh, local fruit and vegetables are what summer's all about.
By Louisa Clements
(Photo by Carlos Gawronski/Getty Images) (Photo by Carlos Gawronski/Getty Images)

Summer is the best time to load up on fresh, local fruit and vegetables and challenge yourself to new recipes or cooking techniques at home. And it’s no different in the Chatelaine Kitchen — especially last week. Every morning there was a mystery box of fresh produce waiting in the kitchen for me. As the Kitchen Apprentice, I was put to the test, using the ingredients to make one of our delicious Chatelaine recipes (watch it all here). Here’s the lowdown on the ingredients and five easy recipes you can make with summer produce:

Strawberries We’re nearing the end of strawberry season (they peak in June and July), but you can still find local berries on shelves. Strawberries are incredibly versatile and work in both sweet and savoury dishes. Looking to beat the heatwave, ice cream was the way to go. With a technique requiring only three ingredients (and no ice cream machine), this method is foolproof — try our simple 3-ingredient strawberry ice cream for yourself.

Tip: The sweetness of local berries can vary, especially with changes in the weather. You may find after a few rainy days, the fruit can become waterlogged and therefore less flavourful. Be sure to give them a taste before using them in a recipe and make adjustments (such as adjusting the amount of sugar) accordingly.

Potatoes Potatoes are harvested in the summer and stored so that they are available year-round.  When they are in season, the skin can simply be scrubbed off (no peeler required) making prep a breeze. Their versatility makes them a favourite no matter the time of year. With a box of yellow potatoes (an all-purpose medium-starch variety), I made the perfect afternoon snack: Jalapeno pan fries. Bonus: Our homemade ketchup is perfect to serve with your fries.

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Tip: For best results, start by parboiling the potatoes before frying them, and you’ll end up with perfectly cooked, crispy potatoes.

Blueberries As one of the few fruits that are native to North America, blueberries are one of the most highly anticipated fruits of the season. In Ontario and on the West coast you’ll find that local berries are cultivated, while in Quebec and the Maritimes, local blueberries are wild. Either way, in-season berries are packed with a complex flavour that is both sweet and tart. With raspberries also in season, I wanted to highlight this bounty of berries with our white-sangria jellies for the perfect mid-week pick-me-up.

Tip: Blueberries last the longest of any berry and will keep well up to a week if stored properly — keep them unwashed and covered in the refrigerator.

Zucchini This vibrant squash peaks at the end of the summer. And, because it can be enjoyed raw, grilled, pickled, roasted and baked into delicious treats, choosing a recipe to highlight this versatile vegetable was challenging. Taking inspiration from my Greek roots, I opted for our golden zucchini-feta cakes packed with fresh dill and crumbled feta.

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Tip: Save the larger, more fibrous zucchini for grating into baked goods like chocolate zucchini muffins.

Green Beans Did you know green beans are in season in the summer? They are a sweet, multi-purpose ingredient that is commonly roasted or sautéed. But, I wanted to try out a new technique I’ve learned and pickle them. (Plus, pickled green beans are the ultimate garnish for an all-Canadian spicy Caesar.) Boiling vinegar and sugar together is a fantastic method that can be applied to many vegetables for an impressive quick pickled snack or garnish.

Tip: Quick pickling does not create shelf-stable pickles, so be sure to keep these green beans refrigerated.

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Want to see the recipes get made? Watch the whole series of 16-second videos here.

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