Summer is one of my favorite times of year because there is an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables. After a while though, we tend to get bored with the same fried squash, fried okra, and salads. How, then, do we take this delicious food and make something different but equally as delicious as that first bite of a tomato fresh out of the garden?
In order to keep your creative buds going, I have rounded up some delicious recipes for you to try out this summer.
Recipes to Try Today
Eggplants are one of the most versatile veggies around. I remember the first time my kids had it – we made eggplant parmesan and because they helped me make it, the kids dug right in. Granted now they are tweens, this makes it a bit more difficult since it's not as much of a regular occurrence in our house anymore.
I love to eat eggplants as if they were the crust for a pizza. It is as simple as cooking them in the oven for about ten minutes at 350 degrees, taking them out, adding toppings of choice, and putting the eggplant back in for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.
Here are some more great recipes I would recommend:
Ratatouille by A Clean Bake
This recipe is great because she doesn't turn it into a stew. Hot food is one thing in the summer, soup is another. Gazpacho is something I just cannot seem to wrap my head around. Instead of turning it into a soup, this writer puts the sauce on the bottom of the pan and adds the toppings, then some olive oil before she places it in the oven.
A couple of reasons I like this as much as I do: one, she layers it so this way someone who doesn't like a particular item in the dish can still eat it and two, she uses more of the delicious garden veggies!
Eggplant Lasagna by Primavera Kitchen
This is similar to the eggplant parmesan that I made and great for those of you who are trying to stay away from refined carbohydrates. I feel that this is a smart alternative for almost anybody, to be honest. The reason that diets like Paleo do so well is because they bring more vegetables and fruits back into our diets and take away a lot of the Western foods that we get too comfortable eating.
The added benefit of the eggplant lasagna is that it tastes just as delicious if not more so, and you are still able to get your comfort food!
Baba Ganoush by Inspired Taste
If you are someone that likes hummus, then you will love baba ganoush. This recipe uses grilled eggplants and a few more simple ingredients, like lemon juice, to make a dip that is to swoon for. Pass around the (homemade) tortilla chips and let your guests marvel at what is inside this delicious dip.
Balsamic Chicken Stuffed Eggplant by The Sophisticated Caveman
I have always made stuffed peppers but never thought about stuffing much else until I had a stuffed avocado one day at a restaurant. Now I look at several foods as “Oh yeah, I wonder what I could stuff that with?”
After a trip to Ocean City as a teenager, I also became obsessed with vinegar (Thrasher fries, anyone?) So this recipe puts two of my favorite things together. The Sophisticated Caveman did a good job!
I added this picture because it represents the different parts of the eggplant that people can eat. One of the most delicate and delicious things I eat in the late spring and early summer is ricotta stuffed in a zucchini flower (see I told you I loved stuffed foods).
For this recipe, you simply stuff the zucchini flower with ricotta cheese, dip the flower in batter and pan fry it. It is simple yet amazingly delicious. Here are some other great recipes from great food writers.
Healthy Zucchini Muffins by Well Plated
Have you ever had zucchini bread? To me, this is a must for the summer time and is the epitome of perfection. These muffins pay homage to the zucchini bread days and make it totally okay to eat zucchini bread for breakfast by putting it in muffin form. Plus, with bananas and zucchini, it is healthier than your typical chocolate chip muffin and super moist which I love.
Worried that your little ones will be grossed out by the green flecks in the muffin? Add a tablespoon of chocolate powder to the mix and you're good to go!
Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spinach Spaghetti Squash by Peas and Crayons
This is one of my favorite recipes to take to work with me. It makes me feel good inside and out. Partially because it is healthy, but also because it tastes good and does not give you that “ugh” feeling afterward.
The last two recipes are both good ones to freeze and eat later if you are in a hurry. Just take it out, dethaw overnight, warm up if desired and you are good to go!
And the next two recipes use butternut squash. It amazes me how narrow our food palate can be without even recognizing it. I grew up on squash and zucchini but nothing outside of the yellow squash or pumpkins.
The first time I received winter squash in my CSA basket I was at a loss and had to do some serious searching to find the perfect recipe to try it out on my family. Thankfully, I have become a pro and they loved it but I wonder what else is out there that I haven't tried because it's just not sold as much in stores? This is why we need to learn about all the foods that were available when our ancestors were around and be willing to try new things.
I'll get off my soap box now and back to the butternut squash recipes.
Butternut squash fritters by Just a Taste
This recipe is only five ingredients and I absolutely love it with a dollop of sour cream on top. My family is a big fan of a salty-type of recipe, especially when we have foods like ribs or barbeque. This one definitely fills the need and makes sure that no good food goes to waste.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup by Ahead of Thyme
The perfect starter for Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe has rosemary, sage, and thyme- all ingredients that not only tastes like the holidays but makes the house smell just as good. I don't know about you but just the talk of this soup has me excited for the Macy's parade, a turkey, my family, and (later in the evening) Home Alone!
Tomatoes are one of the most versatile edibles out there. You can make anything from spaghetti sauce to tomato soup or just eat it whole. I think tomatoes are one of those garden plants that grow more than the others, which is perfectly acceptable, especially if you can your goodies to help them last all year long.
Garden Fresh Bruschetta by Spend With Pennies
I learned when reading her article that the name ‘bruschetta' actually refers to how the bread is prepared (it's brushed with oil) and not the tomato salad recipe; however, this tomato salad recipe is absolutely delicious, especially when made with fresh ingredients.
If you have never made brushetta, I highly recommend you do. It's the perfect summer treat.
Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce by Foodiecrush
I love canning tomato sauce roasting brings out the flavor that much more. The recipe calls for fresh basil, so there is an additional ingredient you can add from your garden. And if you're lucky enough to have garlic, it is just one more to add to the bucket making this a great garden recipe.
If you're not sure what to do with it after you can it, the writer gives some great ideas including making tomato soup with it by adding milk or half-and-half, and creating pizza rolls for the kids, using the tomato sauce as the marinara for the pizzas.
Heirloom Tomato Galette by Wry Toast
A galette is a French food that has a flaky crust. On the inside of the flaky crust can be a multitude of different ingredients. For this recipe the writer has shallots, goat cheese, and several different types of tomatoes. Her secret ingredient is the honey though. It combines all the flavors nicely and gives it an extra bit of sweetness.
The first time I had this recipe, I was sitting outside on a hot Dallas day doing school work, eating my galette, and drinking a sparkling water. It was amazing. One of those picture perfect days and the galette, like my spaghetti squash lunch, helped to bring it over the top.
Tomato Pie by Tastes Better From Scratch
This tomato pie has as many ingredients as the galette; however, with the addition of mayonaise, it is much more Americanized. I like to add a bottom layer of ground beef to my tomato pie as well mainly because my husband is a meat and potatoes kid of guy and I like to keep that in mind. Knowing that, this recipe has the advantage of being a vegetarian pie or with the adition of meat, one for omnivores as well.
Berries are grouped together because so many of the things you can do with strawberries you can also substitute and do with blueberries or rasberries or mix it up. Either way, berries are such a great garden delight and a nice change from the vegetables.
Summer Berry Lemonade by From Valerie's Kitchen
This is the perfect reason why I wanted to add berries to this list. Unless you are going for a bloody mary, there are not many items on this list that is going to create a delicious drink. And lemonade is a perfect spring and summer drink, add in the taste of the berries and it is a sweet treat that kids and adults both like.
Summer Berry Cheesecake Salad by The Slow Roasted Italian
This is one of my daughter's favorite recipes to make herself. She creates not just a berry recipe but also does it with mandrian oranges and other fruits she likes. I edit the recipe a little though, I half the sugar (so I use one fouth of a cup instead of a half) and we use real whipping cream instead of cool whip.
Also, it's really yummy to add marshmallows to the recipe as well! Just a heads up.
Skillet Berry Cobbler by The Novice Chef
I absolutely love cobbler. When adding the recipe to a cast iron pan it makes it that much cozier to me. I am originally from the north so oatmeal is a comfort food for me. Add to that the berries and all their deliciouslness and it is baked to perfection. Makes me feel like I am twelve again and the excitement of smelling one of my mom's freshly baked cobblers coming out of the oven. I totally consider this to be a breakfast food, afterall it has oatmeal!
Berry Feta Spinach Salad by Carl's Bad Cravings
Of course, I couldn't have a berry recipe section without makng you think that you are still eating something healthy and good for everyday meals and not just dessert. I love the addition of the candied pistachios although I would opt for candied pecans instead. I love, love, love pecans. The feta is a nice addition as well, with it's tartness.
Now get out there and see what delicious recipes you can create with the bounty that mother nature gave us. If you have one that you absolutely cannot get enough of, be sure to leave it in the comments. I love trying new things and helping our food go from garden to plate!