My husband is an excellent gardener so we always have a summer garden planted on or near Good Friday as that is what the Italians believe. We always have an incredible bounty. I love planning meals that have to do with what is in my garden or what I find at the farmer’s market.
I especially love Spring through Fall as the access to amazing produce that is in season and the hight of flavor is always the best as well as the selection. I tell my kids all the time, to eat a rainbow!!
I really don’t have a menu planned specially in the summer, I leave it to what inspires me in my garden or at the market. Our farmer’s market is really good as the focus is on produce, organic meats and fresh, and wild fish.
Summer eating for us is pretty easy: protein on the grill, vegetables on the grill and maybe a grain and/or vegetable salad of some kind. We also love summer, sweet corn. I like to serve colorful meals with great flavor that are fresh and presented beautifully. When you rely on what is in season, you can’t go wrong and the food doesn’t need to be messed with, as nature does it all.
Eating what’s in season also tastes better with all the fresh herbs in season, all it takes is some seasonal produce, add fresh herbs and some olive oil and you have a wonderful meal or a start to something healthy and delicious. I love all the fresh herbs that I grow in my garden: basil, thyme, lemon thyme, sage, chives, tarragon, parsley, cilantro, mint, and rosemary to name a few. All these beautiful herbs add flavor to vegetables, meats, corn/potatoes/grains/beans, as well as sweet dishes. Better to add flavor naturally than adding flavor from sugar or other additives. Summer eating and cooking is my favorite as it is really is, less is more. The flavors shine with everything in season and warmed by the sun.
When produce is in season it is simple eating as it requires a lot less fuss. I let the food shine. It is also so healthy to allow all this produce to be prepared simply. Plus, dishes are so much more appealing with all the colors and flavors. Get creative, use a cookbook or food magazine to get ideas. I go to the farmer’s market without a plan and usually am inspired by what is available and it just seems to all come together in my head, what the menu will look like for the week. If I am planning a dinner party, I go with ideas in mind but usually change as I get inspired by what is available!
Planting a garden is wonderful. If you are new to it, start small, maybe with a herb garden. We use troughs as planters. It keeps our sweet Boston Terrier, Barolo, out of the garden and allows us to continually keep the soil fresh and organically nourished. We have a year round herb garden, but just a spring planting which leads to an abundant summer/fall garden. Talk to your friends, people at a local nursery as they will know what grows best in your area. I love going to my garden and picking what I will be cooking for dinner.