Educating kids about food, from source to plate

Farm Fresh Summer Recipes

shisitos

by Rich Kolm, TasteWise Kids Program Manager, Days of Taste

Three Quick Summer Recipes

It’s summertime! There’s a cornucopia of summer fruits coming out of local farms that are available at markets and grocery stores. But who wants to spend a long time cooking when it’s so hot? Here’s three quick and easy ways to eat some local produce that won’t take you long and taste great.

Salted Tomato Slices

This may be basic for some but I’m always surprised at how often people don’t know about it.

  1. Take a Beefsteak or Heirloom tomato and slice it crosswise.
  2. Discard the top and bottom slice.
  3. Lightly salt, kosher salt is better if you have it.
  4. (optional) garnish with fresh basil, or mozzarella.

That’s it! It seems super simple but if you haven’t tried it you’ll be amazed at what this does for the flavor and the consistency of the fruit. There is simply no better afternoon snack on a July day.

What’s happening here? The salt draws the water the fruit holds in the interior of its cells out, in a process called osmosis. This water has a lot of the flavor of the tomato in it, and drawing it out makes it more flavorful! It also helps to improve the texture of the fruit, making it firmer and less watery. The salt also stimulates your salivary glands to boot!

A couple of notes:

  • Not all tomatoes are meant for eating raw. Most notable of these are the paste tomatoes, like roma. These are excellent tomatoes but better for making sauce, save them for that. Heirloom varieties are best, my personal favorites are Cherokee Purple and other low pH deep color varieties.
  • Not all knives are meant for slicing tomatoes. Straight blade knives struggle to break the skin of a tomato, knives with serrations are better. The best knives for slicing tomatoes are smaller with finer serrations, but even a bread knife is easier than a classic chef’s knife.

Quick Pickled Cucumber

Cucumbers are fantastic this time of year, a great way to cool off on a summer’s day. But what’s even better than cucumbers are pickles! Pickles are a little easier to digest as well, creating less issues with dry mouth and burping that raw cucumbers have.

Here’s a simple straightforward recipe for doing what’s called a quick pickle, or as it’s sometimes called a fridge pickle. This style of pickling is different because it doesn’t involve sterile method or canning or anything complicated like that.

  1. Mix water and vinegar in equal parts. Rice vinegar is my favorite!
  2. Mix in salt, about 1 tbsp per pound of fruit. For context, a normal sized cucumber is about a half a pound.
  3. Slice one or more cucumbers crosswise. Slice thinly!
  4. Pour vinegar mixture over fruit. Place in fridge.

This recipe is super versatile! You can add in fresh or ground herbs, or other fruits or vegetables. Given an hour or so to soak the pickles are ready so you can make them for dinner that night, but they can also sit in the fridge for weeks. The pickles will definitely change as they sit in the vinegar for longer, but that’s part of the fun of this!

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Shishitos and other frying peppers have been all the rage recently! These little green peppers are bred specifically for this one dish and taste amazing, dark and savory and full of flavor. Most of them have no spice at all, but buyer beware, usually about 1 in 20 have a little kick to them. It’s part of the fun! You can get them at most farmer’s markets, and some grocery stores.

Heat oil in a pan, on a medium setting. Use a proper fry oil, my preferred one is canola.
Once oil is proper hot, dump the shishitos into the pan, raw and whole. Be careful, they’ll probably spit a little!

Cook for around 2-3 minutes, stirring so each side of the fruit gets evenly blackened.

Remove from pan and toss with coarse salt. Serve immediately!