Making the most of summer produce
One of the best things about summer is the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies—think juicy tomatoes, bright squash and zucchini, and sweet stone fruit. With little (or no) cooking needed, they’re easy to prepare, plus, with Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, called Food Optimizing, you can eat as much as you like to satisfy your appetite—no counting, weighing or measuring needed.
Here are tips on what to look for when you’re buying these seasonal beauties, the best way to store them, and how to enjoy them in your kitchen.
Buying: Tomatoes should feel heavy and have a sweet, earthy smell. Watch out for green and yellow spots—this can indicate tomatoes that were picked too soon, which can affect the flavor.
Storing: Keep ripe tomatoes at room temperature away from sunlight. Place tomatoes that still need to ripen stem-side down in a paper bag until ready to use.
Eating: While peak-season tomatoes are delicious as is, you can also chop and mix them into soups, layer them into a frittata, or include them in an easy sheet-pan dinner, like this Mediterranean roasted cod.
Yellow squash and zucchini
Buying: When it comes to these summer squashes, smaller is often better—large squashes tend to have more seeds and less flavor. Look for squash and zucchini with skin that is blemish-free, smooth, shiny, and firm.
Storing: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and yellow squash in a plastic produce bag, left open to keep air circulating, for up to five days.
Eating: Add these summer faves to a veggie-packed manicotti primavera (shown above), shave them into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler and toss them raw into a salad for texture, or lightly coat with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper, and grill for a hearty summer side.
Stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, plums, peaches)
Buying: All ripe stone fruit (except cherries) should be fragrant, and give slightly when squeezed. For cherries, look for shiny, firm flesh and avoid ones with brown spots.
Storing: Store peaches, nectarines, and plums at room temperature and out of sunlight until ripe, then store in the crisper bin of your fridge for up to a week. Cherries don’t ripen after they’re picked and will spoil quickly, so store them in the crisper bin as soon as you get them home.
Eating: Stone fruits make great additions to salads or overnight oats, or you can dice them and mix with onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to create a fruity pico de gallo for grilled lean meats and fish. And nothing beats a juicy, summer-ripe piece of fruit eaten fresh (over the sink, of course!).