Let’s just say that when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, the last thing we want to be doing is cooking. Luckily, the hottest season just so happens to have some of the freshest produce, best eaten raw with a light dressing to jazz up the flavor (but not overpower it).
So we chatted with The Washington Post food and travel editor Joe Yonan, whose latest book Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook comes out Aug. 6, about the easiest and tastiest produce combinations for the summer. But the first step? Visit your local market.
"I think too many people start with a recipe, and they go out and shop and try to find all the pieces and put them together, without realizing that there was a specific time and place that the recipe author wrote those recipes," Yonan told The Daily Meal. "It’s almost backwards. You should be going to the market, sourcing the best food you can get on your budget, and find the food that is the ripest and the most in season. That’s all going to add up to something that tastes really good." No recipe required.
So what are the summer offerings? Tomatoes, peaches, corn, and sugar snap peas all shine. And when it comes to tossing a couple of things together, just think of texture, flavor, and seasonality. "There’s an old saying that’s used for food and wine pairing, which is, 'If it grows together, it goes together,'" Yonan said. The same applies here. "If they’re in season at the same time in the same part of the country, it’ll pair… like corn and tomatoes are naturally obviously really good together."
In Yonan’s upcoming book, however, he aims to create new combinations that people may not have thought about. "What I’m trying to do is to show people that you can think of different textures and different sauces and different ways of cooking vegetables that create plates that feel satisfying on their own," Yonan said, noting it’s more of a vegetable cookbook than a vegetarian cookbook. Because when you have beautiful produce, you don’t really need much to make it satisfying on its own.
"When it tastes really good, you don’t have to do too much to it," Yonan said. "[For years] gardeners around the world over have been going out to their plants and plucking things off and taking bites right out of them, and maybe slicing tomatoes with a little mayonnaise and salt on soft bread and calling it a day."
Check out Yonan’s favorite summer pairings, as well as complementary dressings, in our slideshow. You might just be eating these salads until the season runs out.
Originally published 7/29/2013.