Easy Ways to Use Seasonal Produce This Summer Slideshow

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Apricots
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Apricots
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This stone fruit is at its best when it’s firm and bright. Along with jams and pies, apricots have a role in savory dishes as well. Next time you marinate some chicken, try mashing up some fresh apricots with lemon juice and barbecue sauce for a sweet and spicy dish.

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Thinkstock/Hemera

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Avocados
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Avocados
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While it’s possible to find them all year, you’ll have much better luck finding the firm ones that slightly give to your touch during the summer, especially in California. Avocados aren’t just for guacamole; they’re a great mix in to any rice or grain salad you’re serving, and go great with an antipasti platter as well. You can even blend avocado together with the vinegar of your choice to make a creamy dressing — try this one for inspiration.

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Basil
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Basil
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The uses of basil are endless and sometimes obvious, but we recommend tearing it up on top of a piece of grilled fish or steak for an extra added bite, or throwing it into your next fruit salad as a substitution for mint.

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Thinkstock/Stockbyte/John Foxx

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Cherries
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Cherries
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Once you pick those deep purple, shiny cherries, try using them as an add-in to your favorite baking recipe. Freshly chopped cherries in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is a great way to add freshness, and sub in white or dark chocolate for a more finely tuned taste.

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Corn
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Corn
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When picking corn, pull the husk down from the corn to make sure the kernels are bright and plump. To spice up your corn on the cob this summer, try grilling it over an open flame for an extra kick of flavor, and rolling it in a blend of melted butter and some of your favorite spices. Corn also makes a great addition to your meal as a salsa for your protein — just mix it with some oil, apple cider vinegar, and a fresh herb of your choice.

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Thinkstock/iStock

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Figs
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Figs
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Buy these babies during early or late summer, which is their peak season, and include them wrapped in pancetta as an appetizer or tossed in a salad with goat cheese and walnuts.

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Thinkstock/iStock

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Peaches
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Peaches
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Peaches should be alternating shades of orange and slightly give to your touch when you buy them. Go savory with peaches this summer and add some diced fresh peach to your favorite salsa to serve with tortilla chips, or add peach slices to your next salad.

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Thinkstock/Hemera

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Strawberries
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Strawberries
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Strawberries are at their best with they’re plump and dimpled and are a vibrant shade of red. Don’t get us wrong, we love strawberries in our dessert, but what about jazzing them up a bit? Strawberry compote may seem like an intimidating task, but it’s actually quite easy and adds a touch of elegance to your shortcake or vanilla ice cream. Just add three pints of fresh, hulled strawberries to 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of alcohol (we like red wine but rosé and Grand Marnier are great, too), and simmer. Once it cooks down to a silky, gooey sauce, it's ready to serve.

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Thinkstock/Hemera

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Tomatoes
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Tomatoes
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Tomatoes should be firm, plump, and shiny when you buy them. This summer, put away the fresh mozzarella for a minute and try pairing tomato with juicy watermelon, red onion, and white balsamic vinaigrette for a salad. If you’re up for using your oven, our summer tomato pie recipe, with tomatoes layered with cheese and mayonnaise in a store bought pie crust, is a fun and unconventional way of using the fruit.

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Thinkstock/Lifesize/Siri Safford

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Zucchinis
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Zucchinis
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The ripest zucchini is going to be about 6-8 inches in length and will be uniform in color. Rather than just sautéing it, create a creamy, exciting side dish by adding a dollop of cream cheese to the pan right before removing it from the heat. You can also purée it with store-bought Alfredo sauce for a light and fresh summer pasta sauce.  For more ideas on how to use zucchini, see our 13 Zesty Zucchini Recipes.

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Thinkstock/Photodisc/Eising