Five Quick Ways to Transform Summer Produce Into Dinner
All winter and spring, we wait patiently for the halcyon days of summer so we can fill our totes with peak-season produce like zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and fresh beans. With quick-cooking ingredients like these at the ready, it's time to put that slow-cooker mentality in storage along with the rest of the cold-weather survival supplies.
Summertime cooking offers a more relaxed approach to meal planning, one that can be created at the last minute or that same afternoon. Just make sure your kitchen is stocked with basics like rice, pasta, and eggs, and you'll be set for dinner no matter what you decide to bring home from the farmers' market.
Pasta is a perfect vehicle for produce like ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, and sweet summer corn. For those days you are able to make dinner a few hours ahead of time, try this Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Green Beans, and Basil. If you want to save yourself the dishwashing struggle, this One-Pan Pasta recipe is exactly what you need: The pasta and vegetable cook together in the same skillet, so there's only pan to wash. Is it an extra hot day? Pasta can still be there for you in the form of this no-cook tomato-tuna sauce.
Stir-fries serve an excellent and noble purpose: They can use up a veritable glut of different produce in small quantities. What should you do with that hunk of cabbage and half an onion leftover from a recipe you made last week? Instead of tossing them in the trash, try chopping and putting them into this Tofu Stir-Fry instead.
If you're just starting out, stick to a recipe like this Spicy Pork-and-Pineapple version that uses up produce like bell pepper, onion, and greens beans. It won't be long until you are ready to freestyle without a recipe. When that time comes, check out this handy guide that explains the how and the why of the simple stir-fry.
Versatile, nutritious, and almost always on hand, eggs make a fantastic foundation for a hearty dinner that can also incorporate a wide variety of summer produce. You can make everything from this Spanish-style tortilla that packs in thinly sliced potatoes and sweet bell pepper to a Blistered Green Bean and Corn Frittata to a Perfect Frittata with Zucchini and Provolone. Each one of these skillet meals would be perfect for dinnertime—especially when rounded out with a simple green salad and a loaf of crusty bread on the side.
The key to a great dinner salad that won't be boring to eat—and leave you feeling hungry afterward—is the thoughtful composition of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats. Another way to talk about what makes a great main course salad is through the combination of different textures. Think crunchy croutons, crisp vegetables, chewy grains, and hearty proteins. All-star salads that we can't get enough of in the summertime include Steakhouse Wedge with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette, Butter-Lettuce Salad with Egg and Potatoes, and this Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese.
The high heat of the grill means that restaurant-quality pizzas are within reach—and you don't even have to leave your backyard! For a shortcut that will have a homemade dinner on the table faster than delivery ever could, pick up a bag of pre-made pizza dough at your local supermarket. We are especially fond of this recipe that uses freshly puréed corn as the sauce and tops it off with fresh tomatoes and basil for a pie that practically screams summer.
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