There's a bounty of fruit and vegetables cropping up this summer. Here's how to make the most of it for a rotation of fresh (and refreshing!) dinners.
green tomatoes
Fran Kubrick
| Credit: Fran Kubrick

If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, farmers' markets can be a dangerous place in the summer. Fresh produce is everywhere, and it's easy to fill a few tote bags with all the zucchini, peaches, corn, and tomatoes your arms can carry. Even if you're growing in your home garden, the sheer volume of delicious fruits and vegetables can be overwhelming, and you need to use it all up before any beautiful produce spoils.

It was a hard list to narrow down, but we've picked eight different types of popular summer fruits and vegetables and some of our favorite dinner recipes to make with them — whether you have two tomatoes or two dozen.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Summer Squash or Zucchini

Pasta Primavera with Italian Turkey Sausage
Pasta Primavera with Italian Turkey Sausage
| Credit: LatinaCook

This thin-skinned, crisp-tender, mildly sweet summer vegetable is relatively bland — but that's good. It can adapt to any recipe you want to make, whether one of these dinner ideas, or a let's-pretend-it's-kinda-healthy zucchini bread. Try these recipes:

  • Pasta Primavera with Italian Turkey Sausage: This light, sauceless summer pasta recipe uses both zucchini and summer squash, plus sweet peppers, roma tomatoes, and fresh basil for a ton of summer produce favorites packed into a satisfying dish.

  • Connie's Zucchini "Crab" Cakes: Whether you have a vegetarian in your household or just want to make a less expensive version of a "crab" cake, these zucchini cakes — flavored with seafood standby Old Bay seasoning and onion — are a great quick dinner alongside a side salad.

  • Refreshing Summer Squash Salad: This raw summer squash and zucchini salad is simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, but gets a little luxury and extra flavor from prosciutto and feta cheese. "This salad was amazing! So light and tasty! I took it to a function and came home with an almost empty dish," says reviewer Marge.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Green Tomatoes

Best Fried Green Tomatoes
Best Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are unripe red tomatoes that have a little bit of tanginess that mellows when cooked. They are firm enough to hold up to frying in a way their ripened counterparts can't. We love to use them in these recipes:

  • Fried Green Tomatoes: If you need a go-to recipe, this is it. One reviewer raves: "These were the BEST fried green tomatoes I've ever had in my entire life. I followed the directions EXACTLY and they couldn't have been any better. The batter stuck perfectly, and held up really well."

  • Mediterranean Lamb Burgers: Swap your classic red tomato for a slice of green tomato atop a juicy grilled lamb (and beef) burger. Some reviewers suggest making a bunch of patties and freezing them, uncooked, for a party.

  • Green Tomato and Bacon Soup: Because sometimes a hot soup is actually the best way to combat balmy weather. A few reviewers swapped in a few cups of potatoes for green tomatoes to make it less tart, and one added carrots for a bit of extra color.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Ripe Tomatoes

Chef John's Gazpacho
Chef John's Gazpacho
| Credit: Jennifer Baker

So maybe you like your tomatoes fully ripened. We love them both ways. In the summer, you can find incredibly juicy, flavorful tomatoes with a lovely sweetness rather than the mealy, sad supermarket tomatoes that exist year-'round. When your tomatoes are this perfect, use them fresh, not cooked, in these recipes:

  • Chef John's Gazpacho: Chef John calls this Spanish soup a "garden salad masquerading as a cold soup," and it is just as bright and refreshing.

  • Panzanella Salad: This version of panzanella (bread salad) reminds us a lot of Caprese salad due to the hefty dose of fresh basil — also in season in the summer — and mozzarella cheese. Olives add a nice briny, salty bite.

  • Summer Fresh Pasta with Tomatoes and Prosciutto: Garlic-infused olive oil helps coat every strand of pasta and all the fresh tomatoes with dynamite flavor.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Corn

Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)
Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)
| Credit: Soup Loving Nicole

There's nothing like corn that is so crisp and tasty that you could eat it raw. But if you have to cook it, we love these recipes for allowing its naturally sweet flavor to shine through, even in savory applications.

  • Dave's Low Country Boil: Recipe author Lisa calls this Southern dish an "all-in-one pot, all-you-can-eat buffet" of sausage, shrimp, crab, potatoes, and corn. Using the freshest corn possible will make it the star.

  • Corn Casserole: Replace the can of corn in this recipe for equal parts fresh corn, sliced right off the cob. It will make this soufflé-like corn casserole even more of a hit at your dinner table.

  • Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote): What's better than grilled corn? Grilled corn with mayonnaise, butter, Cotija cheese, and lime. Messy but worth it.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Peaches or Plums

Roasted pork tenderloin with fresh plum sauce served on a plate.
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Plum Sauce
| Credit: Chef John

No matter what your favorite stone fruit is, summer is the ideal season to dive into the juicy fruit. Rather than highlighting pies here, we're talking about savory ways to enjoy the fruit. You can also just throw it on the grill and pair it with any protein and it'll probably be delicious.

  • Grilled Chicken, Peach, and Arugula Salad: We love peach cobbler as much as anyone, but sometimes having the ripe stone fruit lean savory can be nice too, especially playing against peppery arugula and savory grilled chicken.

  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Plum Sauce: Make sure to get nice firm plums for this so they don't completely fall apart in the sauce. You could also grill the pork tenderloin for even more summery vibes.

  • Peach Avocado Salsa: Serve this simple summery salsa over a piece of fish, chicken, or even shrimp alongside plenty of tortilla chips. It could also make for an interesting pairing with a quesadilla or in a burrito.

You Just Bought a Bunch of… Cucumbers

Japanese-Style Pickled Cucumber (Sunomono)
Credit: Teresa Beach-Koecher

Cucumbers are not a main dish at dinner, but refreshing salads and creamy sauces made with them can complement so many different proteins. If you have way too many, try these recipes:

  • My Big Fat Greek Salad: This simple dish highlights the freshness of summer cucumbers with briny olives, juicy tomatoes, red onion, bell pepper, and feta cheese, all in a lovely oregano-spiked red wine vinaigrette. Make a big bowl and serve it with grilled chicken or lamb.
  • Greek Lamb-Feta Burgers With Cucumber Sauce: Gyro-inspired ground lamb burgers tucked into soft pita bread would pair well with the salad, and cucumbers are the star of the creamy tzatziki-ish sauce on top.
  • Japanese-Style Pickled Cucumber (Sunomono): When you have a big batch of Japanese pickles — made with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil — you can just pile it on a bowl of fluffy white rice. For a more filling meal, serve it alongside chicken teriyaki or grilled steak.

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