Try a New Food this Summer
By Patrick John
By Patrick John
ASK PEOPLE what foods they associate with summer, and you’ll get some very familiar answers. Fresh, deep red, perfectly ripe strawberries. Watermelon so juicy it drips down your chin. Peaches or nectarines so plump they burst with that first bite. The biggest, sweetest tomatoes you’ve ever seen. And local cherries so good you just keep eating until you get a stomachache. Now that’s summer!
Those are the typical responses, so this year, let’s add to the list with some choices that may not pop into your mind right off the bat.
Let’s talk figs. Some of you grew up with these sweet treats, but other than a Fig Newton, I had never tasted a fig in any other capacity until I was well into adulthood. Depending on the variety, and several of them are grown in Northern California, figs start being harvested in June and continue all summer. Figs in salads continue to grow in popularity, as do fig cookies and other baked goods. Of course, they go extremely well with cheese and nuts if you’re entertaining, and with melon and prosciutto. Never tasted one? Let this summer be the season you give figs a shot.
Homegrown basil is super versatile. Grow it from seed, or buy a plant at your local nursery or grocery store. Make your own fresh pesto – it’s so much better than store bought, and it’s so easy. Basil’s also great for that Caprese tomato salad or a sliced pizza topping after the pie comes out of the oven. When you’ve given up on the plant or you realize you forgot to water it, you can chop the dry leaves for seasoning to use off-season. Having that fresh basil at hand should give you the impetus to keep that plant alive year-round.
Starfruit is something you now see regularly at the grocery store, but most people don’t know how to prepare it. It’s pretty simple: You cut off the vertical brown edges, then cut off the ends, slice thinly and remove the seeds. They are delicious on their own, perfect for salads and even better for mixed drinks. Let’s all dip into the starfruit pond together this summer!
Those choices aren’t wild and crazy, but they may get you started on broadening that palate. If you see something new and different at the farmers market or grocery store this month, grab a few and embrace the summer foodie adventure. There’s enough of the season to go around, so make a promise to enjoy your favorites AND try something new this summer. •