In the United States, fruits and vegetables that are seasonal seem to be available all year long. We get cantaloupes and pineapples that are sweet in January due to special farming and importing. But there are still some seasonal fruits and vegetables that are juicier, fresher, tastier, and full of their real flavor when they are in season, and some, a few are still just available in the summertime. Here, that means fresh local homegrown tomatoes and basil, farm-stand fresh corn, ripe juicy peaches and cherries that really are only available throughout July and August. I buy them, and eat them fresh and cook with them daily. Here are a few great uses that highlight the ingredients at their finest time.

Seasonal Individual Cherry Almond Crisps

Serves 8

Cherries are so sweet and seasonal that it’s actually hard to have any around to use for baking. We eat them in their sweet, fresh glory but a few times a season, I buy extra cherries and make this delicious crisp in minis or in a baking dish. I do buy a few extra bags of frozen cherries though so I can make this into the fall. Serve it warm with pareve or dairy ice cream scooped on top.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 6 cups fresh pitted cherries or Four (12-ounce) bags frozen tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Pareve vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

For the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Cut the cold margarine/butter into pieces and with a fork or pastry blender cut it into the flour mixture, until it resembles a moist coarse meal. Add the slivered almonds and combine thoroughly.

Place the fresh or still-frozen cherries in a bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch and almond extract and gently stir the cherries to combine.

Divide the cherries between 8 ramekins (about 1/2 cup each). Top with the crumb mixture, spreading to cover top of each ramekin. Alternatively, pour fruit into a 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with the crumb topping.

Bake until the topping is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. If the topping appears underdone, continue baking in 10 minute increments until it's lightly browned.

Serve the individual crisps warm or at room temperature with a scoop of pareve vanilla ice cream.

Watermelon Tabbouleh

This is unlike any other tabbouleh you have tasted. The watermelon adds freshness, sweetness, and beautiful color to the traditional tabbouleh. This should be tossed together just before serving.

Serves 8

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 8 ounces watermelon (from about ½ small), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • (about 1 1/2 cups total)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add bulgur; stir

and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes.

Transfer bulgur to a large bowl; toss with watermelon, parsley, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice, oil, lemon zest, and salt. Serve. Can be made a few hours before serving.

Roasted Corn Salad

Photo by food52.com

Although available all year, corn is local and fresh in many parts of the United States in July and August, and so much better than the varieties available all year round. The white corn is usually the sweetest, but the yellow corn is also wonderful. I buy it as often as possible from local grocers, farmers markets, Trader Joe’s and often national markets have it fresh daily. Buy it in the husk and peel it at home, it stays much fresher and sweeter that way.

  • 5 ears fresh corn
  • 1 poblano pepper or green pepper
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small avocado, cut into small dice
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ½ cup sugar snap peas, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, gently chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, gently chopped

Preheat broiler to medium-high and place your oven rack about 4" to 6" from your heating element.

Shuck your corn and remove the silks. Cut the kernels from the cob using your favorite technique and set them aside in a bowl. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean-up. Place corn on pan in a single layer. Add the diced poblano/green pepper and sliced red onion. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil to evenly coat, and season with salt and pepper.

Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, or until charred in spots. You're looking for some noticeable char, but be mindful to not overcook. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Add avocado, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, mint and basil.

To make lime vinaigrette: whisk together lime juice, lime zest, honey, and pepper, and then slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Add salt. Drizzle vinaigrette into corn salad, toss and serve.

Summer Peach Cake

Serves 10

If there is such a thing as a lovely morning cake or a perfect cake for guests, this is it. Easy, sweet and fresh, and full of seasonal peaches. Feel free to make this with nectarines, apricots, or blueberries or a combination. In the fall, I make it with apples and pears too and sometimes a few beautiful cranberries too.

  • 3 ripe peaches, peeled and diced
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons softened margarine/butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup soy milk, almond milk, non-dairy creamer, or milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.

In a bowl, toss the peaches with nutmeg and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

In a mixer, cream together margarine, and remaining sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the egg, soymilk, vinegar and both extracts, and mix gently.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this flour mixture to the margarine mixture, mix slowly until combined (some lumps may remain). Pour into the prepared pan.

Press the peaches into the top of the cake. They can be nicely arranged, or more abstract. Sprinkle coarse sugar and cinnamon over the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 325°F and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Stone Fruit Slaw

Photo by epicurious.com

Serve it with grilled chicken or as savory side dish!

Serves 6

This is a wonderful summer treat. It’s so refreshing and the flavor combination is both bold, savory and sweet. I serve it alongside grilled chicken, with pulled chicken sandwiches (use rotisserie chicken or leftover schnitzel), or with any type of grilled steak.

  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pound assorted firm stone fruit (about 5; such as plums, nectarines, peaches, or apricots), julienned
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add fruit and scallions; toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tomato Panzanella Salad

Serves 6

The flavor combination in this salad is classic and well matched. Summertime fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, Kalamata olives and simple seasonings. It’s easy and perfect for summer.

  • 7 vine ripe tomatoes, Or 2 cups colored cherry tomatoes, or 2 cups any fresh tomato varietal, cut in chunks
  • ½ cup fresh basil, washed and cut in thin strips (chiffonade)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 cups homemade or store bought croutons or toasted bread
  • vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, gently mix tomatoes, basil, onion, olives and croutons.

For the vinaigrette: Whisk balsamic vinegar and oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper.

Pour vinaigrette over salad and allow it to coat vegetables and croutons. Serve after it sits for about 15 minutes.