The heat of late summer calls for lighter meals packed with fresh produce. Fortunately, there is an abundance of delicious, seasonal produce to pick from. Not only are seasonal items packed with flavor and beneficial nutrients, they tend to be more affordable as well.
Finding unique ways to use summer favorites can help combat any recipe fatigue you may have experienced in recent months. From packing picnics for the beach to firing up the grill to assembling no-cook meals, use Tiny New York Kitchen’s search function to help you find quick and tasty meals for all to enjoy.
Mix up your meals and fuel your family throughout the long days of summer with these ideas:
Grill Seasonal Vegetables
Add some color (along with vitamins, minerals, and fiber) to your menu by tossing fresh vegetables on the grill. Zucchini and summer squash are ideal as they can be diced and cooked in foil, on skewers or cut into uniform planks and placed directly on the grates. Regardless of the method, coat them with a little bit of olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices for the tastiest result.
Enjoy Something Sweet Any Time Of The Day
Melon is the perfect summer treat. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew have just the right amount of sweetness this time of year, plus they have high water content, helping you to hydrate with each bite. Cut up slices for an easy snack on the go or scoop out melon balls to add to a fruit salad for a refreshing dessert.
Take Advantage Of Fresh Herbs
One of the best ways to add flavor to dishes, without added sodium, is to use herbs and spices. Basil, mint, oregano, and cilantro are excellent during warmer months as they pair perfectly with seasonal produce and light proteins such as fish.
Choose A New Fruit Or Vegetable
Pick out a new fruit or vegetable for your family to try during the remaining summer months. Kids love to choose by color! Then, plan a meal around your new produce pick.
Build A Picky Eater Snack Plate
Not only will this quick meal hack keep you out of a hot kitchen, but it is a great way to encourage picky eaters to get a bit more adventurous. Mix & match favorite fruits and vegetables with new options available this time of year. Have a strawberry lover? Put one or two blackberries next to them on the plate. Does your child devour cherry tomatoes? Try adding a few cucumber slices, too. They just may be tempted to try a bite of something new. Then, add in a no-fuss protein, like a hard-boiled egg or shredded rotisserie chicken and some easy whole grains such as crackers, popcorn or pita bread. Round it out with dairy favorites such as string cheese or yogurt. There you have a balanced plate without much hassle.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved
Eating well just got easier. Use one or more ingredients from each of the five categories. Stick with one international flavor profile. Find a sauce in your market’s global-foods section: ssamjang, chutney, hot sauce, salsa, pesto, chimichurri, romesco, aioli, tahini, or peanut sauce. Save money by using leftovers. Save time by using prechopped fresh vegetables.
CHOOSE A BASE INGREDIENT
Cooked Brown Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Bulgur, Farro, Barley, Whole Grain Pasta
CHOOSE A LEAN PROTEIN
3 To 4 Ounces
Cooked Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Legumes, Eggs, Tofu
1 To 2 Cups
Vary Colors And Textures
CHOOSE A SAUCE
1 To 3 Tablespoons
Sriracha, Harissa, Soy, Sweet Chili, Ssamjang, Chutney, Hot Sauce, Salsa, Pesto, Chimichurri, Romesco, Aioli, Tahini, Peanut Sauce
Korean: Cooked noodles or rice, shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, sliced daikon radish, bean sprouts, sliced grilled beef, runny fried egg, ssamjang, kimchi
Middle Eastern: Cooked bulgur, roasted eggplant, roasted cauliflower, sautéed spinach, cooked chickpeas, grilled chicken, minted yogurt sauce, roasted pumpkin seeds, za’atar spice blend
Italian: Cooked faro, sautéed zucchini, sautéed kale, roasted red peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, tuna, pesto, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, pine nuts
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved
Zucchini is wonderfully versatile, healthy, and contains only 25 calories per small zucchini. Low in sodium, cholesterol free and is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. Leave the thin skin on for all preparations. It’s a good source of dietary fiber. Store unwashed zucchini in a plastic bag, in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, for no more than three days, for optimal freshness.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved
5 Ways To Use A Vegetable Peeler
The humble vegetable peeler has hidden talents.
Easily Peel Fruit: To peel soft fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes and peaches, you usually have to briefly dunk them into boiling water. Using a good vegetable peeler is so much easier and faster. Look for peelers with serrated blades for the best results and select not-too-ripe fruit.
Shaved Cheese: Give salads, pastas and roasted vegetables a restaurant-style finish by garnishing with generous amounts of shaved Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.
Vegetable Pasta: Shave long strips of zucchini, carrots (even sweet potatoes and squash) to transform them into pasta substitutes. Serve raw or briefly steamed with your favorite sauce, or toss with a vinaigrette for a fresh and nutritious salad.
Spreadable Butter: Is there anything worse than trying to butter toast or bread with rock hard butter straight from the fridge? Use a vegetable peeler to scrape off thin and perfectly spreadable butter ribbons.
Chocolate Curls: Peel the edge of a slightly softened chunk of chocolate to create curls, or the flat surface of very cold chocolate to make shavings. Keep your creations in the freezer and use to garnish cakes, pies, puddings and seasonal fruit.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved
As zucchini and summer squash take a seasonal retreat, hardy winter squash take the spotlight for the cooler months.
Fresh and flavorful squash stand out with their firm and dull (not glossy) skin without mushy patches. The squash should feel heavy and full, indicating the moisture in the crop’s flesh. “Warty” varieties like hubbard and turban squash should be dry looking, not shiny or weepy.
Have you ever come home from the market after purchasing fruit to find that you spent money for nothing? I have plenty of times and it ticks me off every time. Here are some Fruit Essentials that may help you have more fruit shopping success.
Did you know that many plants that are botanically fruits are not sweet? We think of them as vegetables or non-fruits. Avocados, beans, coconuts, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, green peppers, okra, peas, pumpkins, sugar peas, string beans and tomatoes all fall in the fruit category. Some cookbooks make a distinction between fruit, vegetables and fruit vegetables. Fruit vegetables are foods that are botanically fruits, but are most often prepared and served like vegetables. These fruits are considered fruit vegetables: Aubergine, autumn squash, avocado, bitter melon, cantaloupe, chayote, chile, courgette, cucumber, eggplant, gherkin, green bean, green sweet pepper, hot pepper, marrow, muskmelon, okra, olive, pumpkin, red sweet pepper, seedless cucumber, squash, sweet pepper, tomatillo, tomato, watermelon, wax gourd, yellow sweet pepper and zucchini.
Pectin is a substance contained in some fruit which is used for making jams and jellies thicker. High pectin fruits are apples, cranberries, currants, lemons, oranges, plums and quinces. Low pectin fruits are bananas, cherries, grapes, mangos, peaches, pineapples and strawberries.
Low pectin fruits seem to discolor quicker than high pectin fruits ( bananas and eggplants). Lemon juice or vinegar slows the discoloring process. Other fruits and vegetables that discolor quickly are avocados, cauliflower, celery, cherries, figs, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, nectarines, parsnips, peaches, pears, potatoes, rutabaga and yams.
Bruising: When a fruit is bruised the cell walls break down and discoloration begins. The process can be slowed down by refrigeration.
Cleaning: It is important to clean our fruit and vegetables. Rinse fruit in cold running water and scrub as needed before cooking or eating. Soaking fruit in water for more than a few minutes can leach out water soluble vitamins.
Peeling: The fruit skin usually contains a lot of important nutrients, but if you need to peel a thick-skinned fruit cut a small amount of the peel from the top and bottom. Then on a cutting board cut off the peel in strips from top to bottom. A good way to peel thin skinned fruit is to place the fruit in a bowl with boiling water and let stand for about 1 minute. Remove and cool in an ice water bath. You could also spear the fruit with a fork and hold over a gas flame until the skin cracks OR quarter the fruit and peel with a sharp paring knife or potato peeler.
Wax: Oh those beautiful waxed apples that wink at us at the market. They are beautiful because they are waxed. I don’t know about you, but I would rather not eat wax. Wax can be removed from the surface of fruits by washing them with a mild dishwashing soap and then thoroughly rinsing them. This will remove most of the wax, but probably not all of it.
Purchasing Ripe: Purchase these fruits fully ripe: Berries, cherries, citrus, grapes and watermelon. All of the fruits in this list, except berries, can be refrigerated without losing flavor.
Purchasing Not-So-Ripe: Apricots, figs, melons, nectarines, peaches and plums develop more complex flavors after picking. Store these fruits at room temperature until they are as ripe as you would like them.
Refrigeration: You can refrigerate apples,ripe mangos and ripe pears as soon as you get them. Do not refrigerat bananas.
Seasonal Fruit: Winter is the season for citrus. Fall is the season for apples and pears. Late spring is the season for strawberries and pineapples. Summer is perfect for blueberries, melons, peaches and plums.
Washing: Dry fruit with paper towels or kitchen towels and then use a blow dryer on the cool setting to completely dry fruit.
Squeezing: A microwave can be used to get more juice from citrus fruits. Microwave citrus fruits for about 20 seconds before squeezing the fruit for juice.