Summer is time for easy living. And nothing says simplicity and refreshment on a hot day like fresh fruit. Once available primarily in-season, many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are now available year-round, thanks to the wonders of modern transportation, refrigeration and global commerce.
But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s something indefinably special about the first, fresh, locally grown fruits to reach your local market shelves. Grab some seasonal, luscious juicy fruit at your local farmer’s market, and rediscover the joys of fresh produce like your grandmother once did.
Stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, plums and even cherries are all at their peak of freshness at varying times throughout summer. And let’s not forget melons. From classic watermelon, to cantaloupe, to modern, more exotic choices, such as orange watermelon, now is the perfect time to sample the bounty of the season.
Simple Fresh Fruit Salad
A fruit salad needn’t be complicated. On the contrary, fruit salad should be utterly simple and satisfyingly straightforward. Prepare whatever you have on hand, toss in a few rinsed fresh berries, and you have a cooling, sweet treat that’s not only good looking and tasting—it’s also good for you and your family. Use any combination of seasonal fruits you happen to have on hand. Anything goes; grapes, berries, pitted cherries, apples—what have you.
- Melon, peeled and seeded; cut into 1-inch chunks (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.)
- Fresh mint leaves, rinsed and chopped
- Fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries
Toss melon chinks with mint. Sprinkle with berries. Serve chilled.
Fresh Seasonal Apricot Crumble
According to the non-profit consumer health advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, apricots and other stone fruits are among the fruits most heavily laced with pesticides, when grown conventionally. Accordingly, you may wish to seek out organic apricots for this recipe.
- 10-14 small to medium apricots, rinsed, pits removed; cut into quarters
- 3 Tbsp chopped, toasted macadamia nuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (or some combination of tree nuts)
- 2 slices whole-grain and/or nut/seed bread, lightly toasted, then crumbled
- 2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature (take a cue from the Europeans and routinely store butter at room temperature; there’s no need to refrigerate genuine butter)
- 3 tsp. brown sugar
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of allspice
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- dash of honey or agave syrup
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Toss the apricot slices with the spices; drizzle with a teaspoon or two of honey or agave syrup; toss again and set aside. Butter the insides of four ramekins. Arrange one-fourth of apricot mixture in each ramekin.
- Crumble toasted bread slices between your fingers; add crumbs to a bowl. Discard crusts. Add the chopped nuts and butter. Add sugar a pinch of nutmeg. Toss.
- Sprinkle the nut/breadcrumb topping mixture over the apricots. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet, and bake in oven; about 20 minutes. Topping should be lightly toasted. Remove and cool slightly before serving. For special occasions, top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Serves 4.
Bananas are always in season, but they’re seldom elevated to such heights. Despite its simplicity this recipe yields a memorable, elegant dessert that’s sure to please your family—or your honored guests—whatever the occasion.
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled, then halved crosswise and lengthwise
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
- 1/2 cup dark or gold rum (or mix things up a little with aged bourbon whisky)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- pinch freshly ground nutmeg
In a large skillet, heat butter and sugar until it melts. Add rum and stir, cooking on medium low until mixture bubbles and becomes smooth. Note that alcohol may catch fire. That’s okay. Allow alcohol to burn off and proceed. Add bananas and swirl to coat. Cook briefly, until bananas are warmed through. Serve, immediately, over ice cream. Serves 4.