Early summer offers up some of the most delicious fruits and vegetables of the year, and we want to take advantage of the bounty with recipes that spotlight seasonal delights. Buying produce in season offers some of the best buys at supermarkets and farmers' markets.
Avocados hit their stride in the spring and summer, with those grown in California showcasing the best of their nutty richness at this time of year. A true source of good fat, avocados are full of vitamins B6 and C, fiber, potassium and folate. With all these healthful qualities, it's amazing that there's still plenty of room in the humble avocado for the wallop of flavor that makes salads, sides and main dishes shine.
Sweet Pea and Avocado Vichyssoise by Diane Rossen Worthington: This simple and satisfying cold soup highlights two of our early summer all-stars, as well as scallions and tomatoes.
Ham, Turkey, Avocado and Alfalfa Sprout Panini by Tiffany Collins: The creamy decadence of avocados is offset by the springy crispness of nutritious alfalfa sprouts in this lunchtime treat. Melted Swiss cheese and spicy mustard take it over the top.
Cherries begin to mature in early June, and will remain in season through August. You can find them at local farmers' markets, sold with the stems attached, which makes the fruit stay fresh longer. The stems should appear verdantly green, and the berries themselves should be plump and smooth-skinned: beware of discoloration and mushy or wrinkly textures. Before cooking with cherries (or eating them whole), they should be kept refrigerated. While we often think of this summertime treat in the contexts of pies and tarts, cherries can also lend a welcome complexity to the flavors of savory meat or fish dishes.
Cherry Clafoutis by Lora Zarubin: This French dessert covers baked fresh cherries with a flanlike batter that isn't as heavy as a pie's butter-based crust.
Duck Breasts With Cherries by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner: Port, maple syrup, anise, shallot and rosemary come together with fresh Bing cherries for a sauce that's complex and full of depth, scrumptious poured over medium-rare boneless duck breasts.
Peas gained popularity in Europe in the 17th century, when they were seen as a delicacy to be eaten raw. With eight vitamins, seven minerals, dietary fiber and protein among their credentials, these little green seeds pack a big punch.
Morels and Pea-Shoot Gnocchi in a Light Broth by John Mariani: Pea shoots are the nutrient-dense young leaves of the pea plant, paired in this recipe with ricotta for fluffy gnocchi served in a vegetable broth made with seasonal morels, radishes and sweet peas.
Fresh Peas With Prosciutto by Sarah Leah Chase: This quick and easy vegetable dish makes fresh peas the star, with prosciutto, red onion and parsley performing admirably in supporting roles.