I enjoy all of the vegetables and fruits that are ripe at this time of year. But as a single person — or someone with a small family — it can be hard to consume all of the ripe, seasonal produce before it goes bad.
This quandary reminded me of dishes my mom used to make when I was a child. There are plenty of opportunities to use all the produce you can get at harvest time.
Pickled Vegetable Salad
Mom’s pickled vegetable salad was our family’s defining summertime dish. Mom cut up seasonal produce like eggplants, peppers, and celery into even-sized pieces and boiled them in one part water and one part vinegar until they were translucent, about a minute. She would then drain the vegetables and add canned black olives and thinly sliced garlic to the salad and then dress it with olive oil.
Served with a big crusty piece of Italian bread, this made a wonderful lunch or light dinner in those summer months.
Another favorite of ours was her summertime omelet.
During the hot months, Mom would fry seasonal produce like peppers, zucchini, and scallions — sometimes including other veggies like onions and potatoes. She would then add scrambled eggs to the skillet and cook the omelet until it was a little toasted on the bottom. Using a big plate, she would flip it over and then cook the other side in the skillet. It was so good on a big piece of Italian bread and served with a green salad on the side.
An omelet for dinner reduced the time she would spend in a hot kitchen, she sure loved that!
Another classic summertime dish that she and Grandma made is “macaroni basilico,” or basil pasta. To make this, they simply added fresh basil leaves to tomato sauce and cooked until it was fragrant.
This was served over pasta and it was a simple, wonderful meal.
Healthy for Us and the Planet
It seems to me that these simple recipes are a fantastic way to use seasonal produce. The meals are easy to make, nutritious, and great for the planet if you buy local vegetables and eggs. And fresh seasonal produce is always tastier.
And if the vegetables in your garden are being slow to ripen — if you only have one ripe eggplant, one squash, or one bell pepper — you can incorporate them into an omelet or a pickled salad or cook them in tomato sauce and serve over pasta.
There are so many simple, delicious ways to use the produce that is in season right now. So, experiment! You might find some new vegan favorites that are not only frugal, but will help you reduce your carbon footprint by eating less meat.
What’s good for the Earth is good for us, too!
This post was originally published on August 14, 2019.