Tomatoes! Tomatoes are here. I always get excited when the sungold tomatoes I plant in my meager backyard veggie garden begin to set and even more excited when they turn their beautiful glowing orange. More than any other produce, tomatoes embody the essence of summer bounty. At the height of summer, their flavor cannot be replicated. Winter's sad-sack tomatoes trucked in from California or Florida (my home state) cannot compare. Tomatoes capture the fleeting nature of the Midwestern summer perfectly. Now is the time to savor them, to eat all you can. They will be but a memory soon enough.
Although homemade tacos are often heavy on the meat and dairy (or beans) and light on the obligatory veg, they needn't be. In fact, in the summer, tacos make an excellent light dinner when filled up with grilled veggies and a light sprinkling of cheese. As a topping for pinto or black bean tacos, just about any of the vegetables in our share work shockingly well. Quick pickle some red onions and or some carrots you'll improve your taco game several times over. Toss some shredded cabbage onto your bean and cheese tacos to similar effect. For fish tacos, this cucumber salsa salad would make an excellent, refreshing topping. As would some grilled summer squash, for that matter. For even more veggie-centric tacos, try these chard and sweet corn tacos, or these cauliflower and red onion tacos, or even these green bean and tomatillo tacos!
Red lettuce For lettuce this week, loosely Asian-inspired salad recipes have caught my attention. This Thai chopped salad with tofu looks light and refreshing and this recipe Asian-inspired chicken wraps with slaw could easily be made as a bowl salad instead.
Green beans If you're not convinced about stuffing green beans into your tacos, maybe this green bean and radicchio salad will be more appealing. I'm also drawn in by this green beans in lemon vinaigrette recipe; I've been making something similar for the last week at lunchtime and haven't gotten my fill yet. It's a lovely light side for dinner or, with a little cheese, a very light lunch. If you still have green beans you can't get through, consider pickling them. I first discovered dilly beans when I moved to the Midwest and I can't get enough of them.
Summer squash Zucchinis, patty pan squash, and Lebanese white squash are all varieties of summer squash and, thus, can be used pretty interchangeably in recipes. One recipe I marked this week even before I began compiling ideas for this post was this lemon risotto with summer squash. What a clever way to make beautiful yellow summer squash the centerpiece of a fancy meal! And with few ingredients, no less. Other recipes I'm intrigued by this week are this zucchini and pear soup, this Tuscan vegetable stew (if you don't mind heating up the kitchen), and this warm bread salad with smoked salmon and roasted vegetables. Another option would be to experiment with a babaghanoush-esque spread.
Carrots Carrots are a staple in any kitchen. They are the base for a good marinara sauce or homemade broth. Sliced or julienned they adorn salads and slaws. As part of a vegetable medley, carrots add sweetness to this roasted Indian-spiced vegetables and chickpeas with raisins. This recipe for roasted carrots with carrot top pesto and burrata places the whole carrot at the center of the recipe. Carrots are the main ingredient of this vegan roasted carrot, chickpea, and harissa dip and this Moroccan cooked carrot salad as well.
Snow peas The First Mess is a truly delightful vegan food blog with restaurant-quality vegan recipes and this noodle salad with seared tofu, slivered veggies, and zingy almond butter sauce should not disappoint. Also for snow peas this week, I found a recipe for hot and sour seared tofu with snap peas and one for stir-fried beer with sugar snap peas. One surprising but certainly intriguing recipe I ran across is this garlic soup, a traditional soup made with garlic and eggs!, garnished with quinoa and snap peas. I must admit, I'm intrigued.
Chard Another recipe I clicked on because I intrigued, this recipe fried greens meatlessballs is actually written for CSA subscribers as a means of using the bounty of greens that CSA subscriptions typically bring. For a interesting seasoning approach to the familiar sauteed greens, this chard with lemon and ginger looks pretty appealing. Swapping chard for the spinach, this green stir fry sauce recipe would be a great way to preserve your chard for use in future stir fries; it's meant to sit in your freezer, waiting to add nutritional value and flavor to your meals as needed.
Cauliflower I love pairing cauliflower with super savory additions like olives, capers, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and parsley (all the components of a puttanesca sauce). One simple cauliflower preparation I use time and again is to roast it at high heat in the oven for until it's tender and deeply browned on the edges. I toss that with some good black olives (oil cured, kalamata, etc.), garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon, and parsley for a side or light meal. It also makes an excellent topping for pasta or pizza. Similar, but with the addition of tomatoes, is this recipe spaghetti with roasted cauliflower tomato sauce and olives. This roasted cauliflower with lemon brown butter and sage also looks deeply satisfying. And don't forget that the Indian-spiced veggies I mentioned above call for cauliflower!
First tomato! Nope. I refuse to give recipes for the first tomato of the season. Go snip some leaves off the basil plant from your share earlier in the season, slice your tomato, drizzle both with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Or make a BLT, if you must. That's it. Give these little beauties their due. We'll all miss them in a few short months.
Cucumbers Dill pickles are always an option! But, if you'd prefer something fancy this ginger cucumber salad with scallops might fit the bill. A little less fancy but equally appealing, this cucumber radish salad with yogurt and cumin caught my eye as well.
Radishes If you haven't used your radishes in the cucumber recipe above, I have a couple more ideas for you. To use the whole radish, consider this recipe for sweet and sour stir-fried radishes and their tops. For a raw option, this salad of mango, feta, mint, and radishes looks refreshing and satisfying.
Dill Not a fan of smoked salmon? How about drizzling this creamy dill dressing over blanched vegetables, a freshly tossed salad, or even a sliced tomato? The dill would work well in a batch of dilly beans or dill pickles as well. Or, take inspiration from Greek food and toss dill with roasted potatoes and feta.