Potatoes, cabbage and beets no more. Finally the produce section of the grocery store is bountiful with seasonal, local goods—no Mexico or US origins in sight. In complete honesty, a trip to your local farmers’ market or even indeed grocery store—watching for products labelled from Canada—it’ll become clear what’s in season and what’s not. However, I understand what a hassle shopping is, so here’s a preview of my favorite summer offerings. Let it inspire you to sink your teeth into the delicious fruits and vegetables on hand from now until early fall.
An out-of-season, California cantaloupe is one of life’s greatest disappointments. You lug the sucker home and slice open its innards only to dice up dry, bitter and tough orange hunks. After the first, fifth or tenth time, we give up on the guy. Well, let Ontario-grown melons repair your relationship to cantaloupe. When in season, they’re the opposite of every awful cantaloupe slice you’ve sucked on at a catered lunch. Go retro, pairing it with slices of quality prosciutto, or rustic, simply halving one and serving alongside a spoon.
Ontario cherries are worth the cost. A bag of these sweet jewels will win over any summer potluck crowd. Aside from snacking, don’t miss the opportunity to cook with local cherries. Pitting cherries is the perfect summertime mediation. With some solid tunes and extra hands, it takes no time—even without some smancy pitter. Opt for cherry pie, a boozy cherry compote—ideal as an ice cream topping—or cherry ice cream. Try as best you can to thoughtfully devour your cherry creations, making the eating as meditative as the preparing.
Like cantaloupe, taste an out-of-season, imported peach and your relationship to the fruit might just meet its end. The very point of a peach’s existence is its incomparable juiciness. Thank goodness, we have the fortune in Ontario to experience a proper peach July through to September—assuming all goes well with the harvest. Don’t hesitate to buy a basket of them. You can easily slice and freeze leftovers or turn them into jam in order to preserve what you can’t eat fresh.
Bright and perfectly sweet, corn on the cob is a staple summer side dish. And it’s oh-so forgiving. Where most vegetables meet their end after a basic boil, it’s all you truly need to enjoy corn. Consider a lather of butter a bonus. If you’re an overachiever, garnish yours with cotija cheese, cilantro, chilli powder and a squeeze of lime juice.
It’s the theme of this post: repairing traumatic experiences with out-of-season produce. And the tomato is no different. I cringe at the very thought of those cloying red masses available through the winter. Thankfully, therapy for this form of trauma is affordable and simple. Source the biggest tomato you can find, slice thickly, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, salt and ribbons of basil. Then eat. Tomatoes are the magical fruit—gah, weird, right?—that when in season is both meaty and juicy, sweet and savoury. With good tomatoes, your salsa and bruschetta will be surprisingly on point. Consider skipping the tinned variety for fresh for your pasta sauce during the summer months.