Use this summer veggie eating guide to …

  1. Choose what to cook according to your time frame.
  2. Gain confidence in your cooking.
  3. Truly enjoy food that’s not only good for you but tastes incredible too.

fresh mozzarella with garlic tomato basil sauce

Basil: 

Beets and Beet Greens: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Grate raw beet over a bed of greens. Toss lightly with your favorite vinaigrette, chopped chives or scallions, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Simple Steamed Beets
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Preheat your baking sheet in the oven at 400 F. Cut the beets into 1.5″ chunks. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Roast 35-40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.
  • Eat dessert: Gluten-Free Apple, Beet, and Date Crisp

Cantaloupe: 

  • Eat right now: Slice or cube and enjoy raw of course–such a treat!
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Toss in a fruit salad with fresh berries and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Eat in 5-6 hours: Try this recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef for cantaloupe sorbet. Garnish with fresh mint.

Carrots and Carrot Tops:

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Cut into carrot sticks and enjoy! Even though summer carrots aren’t as sweet as spring and fall carrots, they are still a refreshing and delicious quick snack.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Cut into coins. Saute in hot fat of your choice (butter, olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil). Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with fresh chopped herbs of your choice. Enjoy!
  • Eat in 2 hours: Ready for a culinary adventure? Try Deborah Madison’s Chilled Spicy Carrot Soup with Yogurt Sauce. If you don’t have ground sumac, use lemon pepper seasoning or a little lemon zest mixed with salt.

Cilantro: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Chop and toss with salad greens, fresh lime juice, a little bit of olive, and sea salt.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Try this recipe for Fresh Salsa.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Cilantro makes a great topping for Thai curries, like this Easy Coconut Curry from Minimalist Baker. Don’t have the quinoa this recipe calls for? Use rice for your base instead.

Cucumbers:

  • Eat right now: My kids eat cucumbers like apples, no prep required. When I eat them raw, I prefer them sliced with a teensy bit of salt. Either way, refreshing and delicious!
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Toss with cantaloupe or honeydew balls, chopped mint, lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil.
  • Eat in 1-2 hours: I’m a huge fan of these quick pickles from Rachael Ray. To mix things up, sometimes I leave the dill out for a sweeter pickle.

Dill: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Chop dill and combine with softened salted butter, lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne. Use as a spread on toast. 
  • Eat in 15-20 minutes: Use the above-mentioned spread for your fat when broiling fish.
  • Eat in 1-2 hours: This is a repeat from my cucumber suggestions, but for real–you have to try these quick pickles!

Eggplant: 

Endive: Endive is brand new to me, so here are some ideas from Deborah Madison for complimentary flavors. I’ll update this with ideas once I’ve tried some out!

  • Fats: olive oil, nut oil, walnuts, hazelnuts, cream, butter
  • Veggies/Fruits: beets, potatoes, Fuyu persimmons, apples, pears
  • Cheeses: Gruyere cheese, Cantal, Fontina, Parmesan, grana padano, Gorgonzola
  • Acids: red wine vinegar, cooking sherry, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice
  • Proteins: proscuitto, ham, bacon, hard-boiled eggs
  • Other ideas: garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, raisins

Garlic Scapes: Garlic scapes are milder in flavor than garlic, so if a recipe calls for one clove of garlic, use an entire scape instead.

  • Eat right now: If you REALLY love garlic–or if you’re feeling brave–eat the garlic scape raw!
  • Eat in 10 minutes: Chop and saute with veggies like zucchini, green beans, carrots, peppers, or potatoes.
  • Eat on the grill: Brush with olive oil and grill whole scapes. Top with freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

Greens Beans: 

  • Eat right now: If you haven’t eaten freshly harvested raw green beans, now is the time.
  • Eat in 5-7 minutes: Trim the stems, then lightly steam or boil just until the beans turn bright green and are barely tender. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt. 
  • Eat in one hour: Green bean casserole. I know, this isn’t a summer recipe, but I feel like it could still work on a cool, cloudy summer day. We make this every Thanksgiving, and we use a recipe my sister-in-law Cheryl got from America’s Test Kitchen. Let me know if you want the recipe, but the key is to use fresh green beans boiled until just barely tender and quickly cooled. Another key–make your own cream of mushroom soup. So tasty!

Head lettuce: 

Kale, full-sized: 

  • Eat right now: We eat raw full-sized kale all the time. When the kids are hungry and it’s not a snack or meal time, we tell them they can grab kale or a carrot, and they do. If you’re not used to eating raw kale, remember that it can take 15-20 tries of something before your palate adjusts–so be patient with yourself!
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Sausage, kale, potato soup made with chicken broth and a touch of cream at the end–this is one of the Perkins’ family favorites! Chopped kale can be thrown into other soups too–maybe you can even make up your own recipe!
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Kale chips of course! Preheat your oven to 275 F with the baking sheet in the oven (I use two baking sheets for a snack for 6 people). Strip the kale from the stems, then cut or tear into uniform pieces between 1.5-2″. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper, then lay the pieces on the hot baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the leaves, and bake for another 10 minutes. Once the kale chips are crisp, they’re ready to go–so bake longer if needed. 

Mint: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Make yourself a refreshing mojito.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Toss mint leaves into a spinach salad with strawberry slices, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and sprinkling of salt.
  • Eat in 4-8 hours: Use as a garnish with pot roast or roasted lamb.

Okra: 

Oregano:

  • Eat in 10 minutes: Toss chopped oregano with hot pasta, butter or olive oil, sea salt, and other chopped fresh herbs.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Saute with carrots, green beans, thinly sliced or parboiled potatoes, summer squash, or zucchini and other fresh herbs.
  • Eat in 4-8 hours: Combine in an herb bouquet with thyme and rosemary tied with kitchen twine. Add to a pot roast or soup.

Parsley: 

  • Eat right now: Sometimes Dan eats too much garlic (who can blame him)? Then he eats parsley. I don’t have a scientific study to back this up, but in our experience, parsley work as a breath freshener.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Try chopped parsley in this recipe for Fresh Salsa.
  • Eat in 3 hours: Parsley is one of the key herbs in another one of our family favorites: vegan split soup. Recipe coming soon! Until then, try parsley in your favorite split pea soup.

Peas (snow and sugar snap): 

  • Eat right now: Raw. So sweet and tasty.
  • Eat in 10 minutes: Toss peas with salad greens, soy sauce, a tiny amount of sesame oil, chopped scallions, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and toasted sesame seeds for a tasty salad.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Trade out the turnips and/or asparagus for the equivalent amount of snow and/or snap peas in this Spring Stir Fry recipe.

Peppers (sweet): 

  • Eat right now: We love to eat raw lunchbox peppers! Better than chips?
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Try this recipe for Black Garlic and Cream Cheese Stuffed Lunchbox Peppers for a savory treat.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Trim lunchbox peppers and remove seeds, or quarter bell peppers and remove seeds. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Roast or grill.

Peppers (hot): We recommend wearing gloves when handling hot peppers, especially when handling the seeds. DO NOT touch your eyes after touching a hot pepper.

  • Eat right now: This works better for sweet peppers than hot peppers, but I know some folks who like to bite right into a spicy jalapeno. 
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Add chopped and sauteed poblanos or jalapenos to a sheet pan of nachos for an extra kick.
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Jalapeno poppers of course! Here’s a basic recipe from Spend with Pennies, but you can vary this by adding different cheeses to the cream cheese and/or topping with crushed potato chips of any kind instead of bread crumbs. 

Potatoes: 

  • Eat in 10 minutes: Leave small potatoes whole, or cut larger potatoes into uniform pieces. Boil until just cooked (tender, not mushy). Toss with butter, a sprinkling of sea salt, and chopped fresh herbs.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: This one is worth the repeat from the “kale” section: Sausage, kale, potato soup made with chicken broth and a touch of cream at the end–this is one of the Perkins’ family favorites! Potatoes can be thrown into other soups too–maybe you can even make up your own recipe!
  • Eat in 20 minutes–and the next day: Mashed potatoes work great as a side for most meats. And leftover mashed potatoes can be mixed with chopped fresh herbs and chopped scallions/onions, made into patties, and fried up in hot oil for a tasty treat.

Rosemary:

  • Eat in 5 minutes: For a personal snack, thinly slice one quarter of an organic orange. In a preheated cast iron skillet, add a little bit of olive oil. Once oil is hot, saute orange slices and the leaves from one rosemary sprig. Saute for about 1 minute on each side, then remove from heat and add a sprinkling of finishing salt (like Maldon sea salt). I leave the peel on for what I consider a delightful bitter contrast, but if you want all sweetness, remove the peel.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Saute with carrots, green beans, thinly sliced or parboiled potatoes, summer squash, or zucchini and other fresh herbs.
  • Eat in 1-3 hours: Rosemary is a wonderful herb for roasted chicken. Cook time will depend on whether your chicken is pieced or whole.

Shallots: The shallot is a member of the Liliaceae family (same family as onions, chives garlic, leeks, and scallions). They’re smaller and sweeter than onions.

  • Eat in 25 minutes: Shallots work well in vinaigrettes since the vinegar softens their strong flavor. Try this recipe from Bon Appetit to make a shallot vinaigrette.
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Is there anything more delicious than caramelized shallots? Perhaps not. Melt butter in a skillet (I use cast iron). Once the butter is hot, toss sliced shallots into the skillet and mix with the butter. Reduce heat to medium-low. Lightly salt. Stir every now and then, until the shallots are browned and almost sticky looking. If I can keep myself from eating these right out of the skillet, they make a wonderful pizza topping combined with goat cheese, sauteed garlic, and thinly sliced pears.
  • Eat tomorrow: Mix chopped shallots, whole milk yogurt, kosher salt, and olive oil together. Cover, chill, and let sit overnight. When you’re ready to eat this yogurt dip, drizzle with a little more olive oil. Eat with grilled chicken, pita chips, fish, or whatever else makes you happy.

Summer Squash: These recipes also work for zucchini.

  • Eat in 15 minutes: This recipe is not only delicious but also gives you another opportunity to experience the way fresh herbs can transform vegetables: Sauteed Summer Squash with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Summer time=grill time. Try this recipe for Grilled Yellow Squash. 
  • Eat in one hour: Make zucchini bread. If you go this route, choose larger zucchini over the small, tender ones.

Swiss Chard: 

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Use Swiss chard for part of the greens in a green smoothie.
  • Eat in 15 minutes: Try one of Dan’s all-time favorite dishes: Simple Sauteed Swiss Chard.
  • Eat in 30 minutes: Make a frittata with chopped and sauteed Swiss chard, garlic, and fresh herbs (try thyme or cilantro or basil), along with Gruyere or Parmesan. 

Thyme:

  • Eat in 5 minutes: Toss thyme leaves with your salad greens/salad kale/salad spinach. If the stems are fresh and tender, chop the stems along with leaves. If the stems are stiff and strong, slide your fingers down the stem to remove the leaves. Use the leaves and discard the stem.
  • Drink in 10 minutes: Put a few sprigs of thyme into a tea pot, cover with boiling water, and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Add honey and fresh lemon juice to taste. Enjoy a cup a of thyme tea!
  • Eat in an hour: Simmer in your pizza or red sauce for added flavor.
  • Eat sometime in the future: Add whole sprigs of thyme to vegetable, chicken, or beef stock. 

Tomatoes: 

  • Eat right now: Cherry tomatoes, popping sweetness right into the mouth. Enough said.
  • Eat in 5 minutes: Slice a tomato (the Marnero heirloom is a great choice for this). Lightly salt. Add a layer of basil leaves. Grate fresh Parmesan on top. Divine!
  • Eat in 45 minutes: Try this recipe for Spaghetti with Caramelized Garlic and Tomatoes.
  • Eat this winter: Make your own marinara sauce, using fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, and garlic. Cool and put in freezer bags for a savory winter meal.

Watermelon: 

Zucchini: See “Summer Squash.”

What are your favorite ways to eat summer veggies and greens? Share in the comments!

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