Summer Produce Mega List: 15 Recipes to Make While You Can

grilled peaches
Photo Credit: Julia Gartland / Food52

July 20, 2021

Aliza Abarbanel

We’ve waited all year for this. The market is overflowing with juicy heirloom tomatoes, golden sweet corn, and pudgy peaches. There’s only one thing to do: Cook it all. There are countless ways to make the most of peak-season summer produce, from hearty salads to ultra-refreshing desserts. Ready to start? Here’s my mega list of recipes to make before the end of summer, starring everything from corn and tomatoes to peaches and watermelons, along with a few tips for selecting the best of the best. 

elote
Photo Credit: Chicano Eats

Corn

Don’t you dare peel back those husks! I know it’s tempting, but it’s a corn-buying faux pas that’s easy to avoid. Look for brown sticky tassels peeking out of a bright-green, tightly wrapped husk. If you see any small brown holes, keep looking! Those are wormholes, and obviously not ideal for eating.

summer lunches
Photo Credit: Marcus Nilsson / Bon Appetit

Tomatoes

Avoid tomatoes with blemishes, dark spots, or overwhelmingly squishy flesh. Instead, look for ones with smooth, shiny skin. Firmness is okay if you have patience, because tomatoes will continue to ripen at home. Finally, sniff near the top of the tomato where the stem was attached. Does it smell earthy, sweet, and totally amazing? If so, you’ve got a winner.

zucchini pancakes
Photo Credit: Christopher Testani / New York Times

Squash

There are countless varieties of summer squash: zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck, to name a few. And across the board, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Larger squash often are more fibrous and watery, with more bitter seeds. If you see the blossoms, grab those too! They’re beautiful and delicious sprinkled atop salads and pizzas, or stuffed with ricotta and fried until golden brown. 

summer produce
Photo Credit: Laura Edwards / The Guardian

Peaches

Peaches continue to ripen after they’re picked, so consider when you want to eat your bounty before selecting fruit. Don’t squeeze too aggressively, but note how firm (a.k.a unripe) or squishy (a.k.a. ripe) they are. Your nose is also a great tool to whiff out the best—if it smells juicy, sweet, and uncontrollably delicious, it’s probably ready to eat. 

watermelon granita
Photo Credit: Marcus Nilsson / Bon Appetit

Watermelon

Everyone swears they have a trick for selecting the perfect melon—thumping, knocking, rolling. Start by looking for the “field spot,” a white or yellow patch from where the watermelon sat in the field. It’s a sure-fire sign of sweetness. Finally, pick it up to consider the weight. It should feel heavy for its size and full of juicy goodness. 

Clean Plates

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Clean Plates

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.