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A smiling young woman in overalls with long, brown hair eats a fresh summer salad in her sunny kitchen.

Best of Summer Salads, Grilled Meats and Treats: Part Two

With summer in full swing and so many mouth watering fruits and vegetables in season, eating fresh never looked or felt better. Welcome to Part Two of our Best of Summer Salads, Grilled Meats and Treats series! (If you haven’t had a chance to read Part One, you can check it out here.)

Back to the farmers market we go!

Choosing the Best Produce 

As you shop for local produce to craft your favorite summer salad recipes, be sure to choose farm stand fruits and veggies at their optimal stages of ripeness. This will ensure the best flavors, and help you to avoid food waste

So, how can you select the best items from the stunning array of locally grown produce at your community farmers market? Here’s what to look for:

  1. Consider Color. Vibrantly colored fruits and veggies tend to be higher in health-promoting phytonutrients, and a deeply pigmented color also indicates a greater ripeness level. Opt for items with consistent, vivid coloring. 
  2. Check Texture. Ripe produce items should be firm to the touch and heavy for their size, but give a little when lightly squeezed. 
  3. Signs of Spoilage. Avoid wilted, bruised, spotted, or slimy fruits, vegetables, and greens. Plus, overly pungent sweet scents or sour odors are a clear sign to pass on an item. 
  4. Try It Out. Some farmers market sellers welcome taste tests for their items. To get an idea of a crop’s freshness and flavor, take advantage of any free samples on offer. 
  5. Ask the Experts. When in doubt about a staple favorite’s freshness, or trying out a new type of fruit or vegetable and unsure of what to look for, it’s always okay to ask. Not only will you learn more about an exciting new way to add nutritional value to your diet, you might also gain a better understanding of your local produce farms and have a chance to engage with new members of your community.

And, voila– you’re ready to bring the freshest summer fruits and vegetables home to your table.

How to Store Farmers Market Produce

Once you’ve brought home your farmers market haul, be sure to follow these simple tips on how to keep produce fresh:

  1. Stay Cool. When it comes to keeping your produce fresh, temperature matters. Most produce, like zucchini, greens, apples, cucumbers, and cauliflower, will keep best in the refrigerator (use your crisper to avoid excess moisture). Certain items, like potatoes, melons, tomatoes, bananas, onions, and garlic, are best stored in dry, cool or room temperature places, out of the sun. Others, like avocados, plums, peaches, and pears, should be ripened on the counter before refrigeration. Mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag and placed in the fridge.  
  2. Store in Water. Much like their floral counterparts, the freshness of certain fruits and vegetables can be prolonged by storing them in cool, fresh water. Keep foods like herbs, asparagus, scallions, and celery in a vase or jar of water, refrigerate, and be sure to change the liquid if it starts to look cloudy. 
  3. Wait to Wash. Moisture on produce can lead to mold and bacteria, so it’s best to avoid washing your fruits and veggies until you are ready to eat. You can also avoid excessive moisture by storing produce in bags or containers with absorbent paper towels. 

It’s always helpful to keep your weekly meal plan in mind when shopping, as well. This will help prevent overshopping, overspending, and spoilage. (Plus, you’ll have an excuse to take another stroll through the farmers market to peruse the following week’s selection.)

Best of Summer Salads: Act II

Can’t get enough of the season’s freshest flavors? We’re with you! Summer salads and grilling are just so good, they needed a second installment. Without further adieu– our nutritiously curated selection of the best summer salads, grilled meats and treats, part two:  

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

Nothing says salad staple like a perfectly executed caesar built on fresh, in-season romaine lettuce packed with a spectrum of essential nutrients. 

Essential Vitamins

Vitamins A, B9 (Folate), C, and K support everything from healthy vision, immunity, and muscles to strong, radiant hair, skin, and nails

Essential Minerals 

Magnesium and potassium help to support sleep, mood, athletic performance, a healthy nervous system, and post-surgical recovery.

Recipe

Salad Ingredients
2 hearts of romaine, sliced in half lengthwise
2 lemons, cut in half
½ baguette, sliced on a bias in ¼ inch slices
extra virgin olive oil

Dressing Ingredients
2 anchovies
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup grilled lemon juice, (approx. 1 large lemon)
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the grill for indirect cooking. Target 400 degrees F in the cooking chamber.
  • Drizzle bread with olive oil (a light coating).
  • Place the romaine hearts, lemons, and baguette slices on the grill on direct heat and cook approximately 2 minutes per side, flipping often. Stay close, these will all cook at slightly different times. Remove when the bread has a nice toast, the lemons have darkened and have a nice char (see pictures), and the romaine has a nice char (but not burnt).
  • Remove from the grill. Serve with the Grilled Lemon Caesar Dressing, parmesan cheese, and optional proteins (we vote for crispy bacon or grilled chicken).
  • For the dressing: Place the anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese in the food processor and grind until they turn into a paste. Then add the wet ingredients (the grilled lemon juice, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, and olive oil). Blend on low until it emulsifies. This will take at least a minute, on low. Dress salad as desired, and enjoy!

Top it off with juicy, locally raised grilled chicken from your farmers market for an excellent source of lean protein. One 4-ounce chicken breast has a whopping 21.3g of protein (around a third of the average person’s recommended daily intake).

Spicy Arugula Apple Salad

There’s nothing to help beat the midday heat like a refreshing summer green salad with fruit. 

The warmer months are an excellent time to enjoy in-season arugula in your salads, famous for its fresh, peppery taste. In addition to vitamins A and C, arugula is rich in polyphenols. 

Polyphenols 

Polyphenols are naturally occurring micronutrients in plants that can help to support healthy circulation, blood sugar levels, and immunity. 

Pair arugula with fresh apples for a boost of antioxidants and digestive support. 

Recipe

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Dash of salt
2 cups baby arugula or spinach
½ Braeburn apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 ounce Cabot Habanero Cheddar, grated (about ⅛ cup)
3 tablespoons pre-cooked bacon crumbles

Directions

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Add arugula, apples and cheddar to the bowl and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with bacon, and enjoy!

Not a bacon fan?

Top it off with plant-based protein like grilled local tofu steaks (10g) or portobello mushrooms (0.7g). 

Grilled Zucchini Salad

Summer is the season for squash like zucchini, loaded with vitamins A and C and manganese, plus the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.   

Lutein 

This carotenoid is often called “the eye vitamin” for its ability to support healthy vision. It can also help to support some respiratory and digestive functions.  

Zeaxanthin 

This vitamin-A relative may help to support age-related vision loss, eye strain, mental decline, and heart health. 

Recipe

Ingredients
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
Canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Honey
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus leaves for garnish
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Wedge pecorino romano, for shaving 
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Fresh mint leaves, torn

Directions

  • Heat the grill to high heat. Brush the zucchini on both sides with canola oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill for just about 1 minute per side (until slightly charred and wilted), then remove them to a platter.
  • Whisk together the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, to taste, and salt and pepper, to taste, and parsley in a small bowl. Slowly, whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette over the zucchini and let it marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature. Top with shaved cheese, pine nuts, parsley and mint leaves, and enjoy!

Top it off with fresh fish from the farmers market grilled to perfection, or serve as a side salad with local pasture raised beef– try this grilled steak recipe with a buttery herb finish

Which best of summer recipe will you be serving up?

Remember to make the most of the season’s delectable harvest by shopping right, embracing savvy storage, and adding these easy summer salads to your balanced diet for tasty, cooling nutrition through the dog days.

Looking for more ways to step up your wellness game? Find the best multivitamin to fit your lifestyle for an easy, breezy way to optimize your nutrition and support your well-being. From clearer, more radiant skin to greater energy and better sleep, multi-nutrient support can help take the guesswork out of getting enough of everything you need from diet alone. So you can feel your best while doing the things you love, like loading up on farmers market free samples as you fill your basket in the sweet summer sun. 

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