The peak of summer brings is the best time of year to eat seasonally. Local farmer’s markets are brimming with the freshest, most delicious produce of the year. If you’ve had the foresight to plant your own garden, you’ll find your kitchen counters covered in tomatoes, summer squashes, and peppers in the weeks to come. Looking for some great ways to share your bounty as you head into the Fourth of July weekend? Here are some guilt-free recipes that will showcase the best of the summer season.
#1: Simple Fresh Salsa Or Guacamole
2-3 cups of coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes (guacamole, use 3 avocados instead)
1 clove peeled garlic, finely chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed (optional)
Lime juice and lime zest from one lime
½ cup fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
¼ yellow onion
Salt to taste (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor bowl. Pulse together until combined.
Versatile, fresh, and a huge crowd pleaser, pass this salsa at your next party, or use it to top grilled fish, scrambled eggs, or the Grilled Steak Kabobs below. I use the same recipe for guacamole, just substitute three avocados for the tomatoes and take it easy on the food processor.
#2: Grilled Kabobs
With plenty of fresh veggies and lean protein, kabobs are a healthy entrée that won’t weigh you down at your next summer party. Using steak as a protein makes these kabobs a festive crowd pleaser, though you can make them vegetarian by substituting portabella mushrooms or marinated tofu. Timing the cooking of protein and vegetables can be tricky. I like this recipe for recommending the more forgiving option of flank steak and serving grilled zucchini as a side.
See the whole recipe here: myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-steak-vegetable-kabobs
#3: Savory Ratatouille
What do you do when your tomato vines are bowing under the weight of their produce and the peppers are popping? There’s nothing better than a bowl of ratatouille made from the best of summer’s produce. Make plenty of this crowd pleaser to pass and then make some extra to freeze seeing you through the cold days of winter. Serve it up with a loaf of crusty bread. Breathe. You’re welcome.
See the whole recipe here: thekitchn.com/one-pot-recipe-easy-french-ratatouille-recipes-from-the-kitchn-106669
#4: Mediterranean Hummus Platter
Line a platter with the freshest slices of cucumbers and tomatoes you can find.
Sprinkle on the feta and olives.
Round it out with a healthy pile of hummus, warm slices of pita bread, and a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Sit back and enjoy the rave reviews.
Whether you opt for a dressed up store bought hummus or take the time to make your own (it’s really easy!), your guests will gobble up this healthy and beautiful appetizer. It also makes a great lunch or light dinner on the nights you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.
#5: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheesecake Fruit Dip
You know those afternoons when you just need a bit of something decadent? High in protein, this dessert is cold, sweet, creamy, and the best way of topping fresh fruit I know. Place this on the buffet as your next dish to pass, surrounded by the most colorful berries, peaches, or other summer fruits you can find (this will work great with apples in the fall as well!). Need a vegan option? Substitute silken tofu for the cottage cheese.
Blend together one cup of cottage cheese and 1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder. Top with a drizzle of honey before serving.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.