Summer Vegetable Guide
Summer is the best time of year for produce! If you're not big into vegetables and you want to start eating more, or you just want to start incorporating more fresh produce into your diet to get in better shape, now is the perfect time. To get you started, here's a quick summer vegetable guide to tell you when to eat what and how.
Typically, eggplants are harvested starting in June. Eggplants are rich in manganese and potassium as well as folate and vitamin B6. Eggplants are very versatile with a lot of texture and body. They can sometimes be used in place of meat to make a dish vegetarian. Brushed with olive oil and seasoned, eggplant is a great grilling vegetable, and it's also one of the main components in ratatouille.
Green beans start to peak in June but harvest only lasts until September, so now is the time to eat them up! Green beans are a good source of protein, vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. While we love mushy green bean casserole when we're getting out our Christmas tree decorations, when you have fresh green beans in the summer, they can add a little bit of crunch to your recipes. Blanched and shocked (immersed in boiling water for a few seconds and then plunged into ice water), it gives summer salads crispness. They can be the stars of your salad with a bold vinaigrette. If you have an overabundance of green beans, you can pickle them to make a tasty snack in the winter or a unique addition to your Sunday Bloody Mary.
Summer squash starts popping up in gardens around June and sticks around until late October. It's filled with magnesium, riboflavin, and niacin. Summer squash is a starchy vegetable and, if it's served correctly, it can be a substitute for pasta. Spiralized, you can turn it into spaghetti, or sliced thinly, it can be used for lasagna in place of lasagna noodles. It also grills and sautees well.
From June to November, okra is plentiful. Okra is an interesting vegetable; there aren't many quite like it. Raw, it's kind of fuzzy and green with an odd shape. It's a pod that looks like a cross between a green bean and a bell pepper, but it tastes nothing like either one. Okra is full of zinc and copper, and dietary fiber. Most commonly, okra is stewed with tomatoes or it's sliced, battered and deep fried (this is a good vegetarian substitute for fried shrimp) or you can find it in a good bowl of gumbo.
Fresh tomatillos are easy to find between June and November. They're similar to green tomatoes, but they remain fairly small and very firm as they ripen. They also grow inside a paper-like husk in which they are also sold. Tomatillos are a good source of iron, niacin and potassium and are low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Tomatillos are the main ingredient in Mexican green sauces used for enchiladas or chili verde, but they're mild so they temper the spicy jalapeño very well without losing any of the color.