Summer isn’t just a word; it’s a feeling. It’s a collage of colors, smells, and sounds. It’s the vacation-y aroma of sunscreen on warm skin, the clink of ice cubes in a pretty glass, the juice of a fresh peach running down your chin. It’s a time for freedom and adventure, for spontaneous gatherings and lazy hangouts.
In the kitchen, summer means bright, bold flavors, impossibly sweet peak-season produce, and cold, refreshing dishes that don’t require cranking up the oven. For fruit and vegetable lovers, summer is a heady time, when everything is ripe and ready, requiring only the simplest preparations to elevate them.
Here are five dishes for all of your summertime hangs from the ZENB recipe collection. They’re all about sweet, tangy, fresh flavors, using seasonal ingredients to make each bite sing!
Tomatoes are the queens of summer, so luscious and juicy they can be eaten out of hand like an apple. There are a million delicious ways to use fresh tomatoes, but this classic Italian-inspired preparation is one of our favorites.
Caprese is the trinity of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, a glorious union of color and flavor that also echoes the Italian flag. It’s simplicity at its finest, with the combo of ingredients adding up to so much more than the sum of its parts. This tasty risotto puts these flavors on fine display, with a touch of ZENB Sweet Carrot and Tomato Marinara Pasta Sauce for an extra-velvety texture.
No matter where you live, chances are there is a variety of corn that achieves a glorious level of sweetness sometime in mid- or late-summer. If possible, we suggest seeking out a local heirloom variety from your community’s farmers market for exciting new experiences with this familiar veggie.
With a few ears of corn, you can easily add sweet pops of flavor and color to all sorts of dishes. A great example is this elegant dish, which combines sweet corn with other summertime stars, like zucchini and tomatoes. Plush, milky burrata adds a luxurious finishing touch.
Green and yellow summer squash grow so happily and ripen so quickly in summer that you might find yourself gifted a bundle from a neighbor’s abundant garden! In the prime of their season, zucchini are so sweet and light that you can slice them and eat them raw (try them dipped in hummus), and a gentle sauté coaxes out even more of their ethereal flavor.
Try that method in this creamy, dreamy pasta dish that’s punched up with lemon juice and herbs, and mellowed out with fresh ricotta cheese. A bowl of this with a glass of cold Vermentino or lemonade is basically the ideal weeknight summer meal.
Chilled pasta salads are a must on hot days, and are the best thing to bring along to picnics, potlucks, and pool parties. This garden fresh version features a melange of grilled summer produce and a spicy harissa dressing.
Remember when making cold pasta dishes to always rinse the pasta in cold water right after draining it. For more tips on making perfect pasta, check out Tips and Tricks to Achieving Pasta Mastery.
When it’s too hot to cook, gazpacho is a winning move. This famously zesty chilled soup comes together in a blender, so there’s no need to heat up the kitchen. Our version uses ZENB Roasted Tomato, Garlic & Basil Pasta Sauce which adds a deep complexity of flavor and so much plant-fueled goodness.
This recipe is also a great way to use bruised or imperfect cucumbers or tomatoes that are past their prime. So, not only is gazpacho a heatwave hero, it also helps cut down on food waste!
Just getting warmed up? Find more summer recipes waiting for you in the epic ZENB recipe collection! For more cooking tips and advice for balanced living, follow ZENB’s Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest pages.