Summer is a magical time of year filled with sunshine and outdoor adventures. It is also a vibrant season for local produce, with vivid colors and bright flavors. San Diego’s temperate climate brings us fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year, and the warmer temperatures of the summer produce some community favorites.
“Farmers plan summer crops long before everyone’s winter holiday celebrations are over,” says April Viles of Sand n’ Straw Community Farm in Vista. “From picking seeds to planning garden layouts, farmers are kept busy during the winter. But it’s all worth it once the first harvests of summer start coming—from heirloom tomatoes to Romanesco squash, there’s nothing quite like summer produce.”
There will be seasonal dishes at many San Diego area restaurants to discover. The Plot in Oceanside provides the community with zero-waste, plant-based food like the Cali stir-fry with corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Executive chef Davin Waite says, “Summer ingredients make a chef’s job easy. It’s funny how nature provides the fresh vibrancy that we crave when it’s hot outside. It’s pretty obvious that nature knows best.”
Buying local, organic produce and products is an important step toward contributing positively to our food system. Visit local markets, support San Diego farmers, and practice zero-waste, plant-forward recipes at home this summer and every season when you can. Living in this beautiful place gifts us the opportunity to work together to keep it that way in the most delectable way possible!
We are fortunate to enjoy avocados all through the year in Southern California, but you’ll find that during the summer season these local fruits will ripen faster and have that perfect, buttery texture. So order that avocado toast and pick up locally grown avos at the farmers’ market during the sunny summer months.
While you stroll through local markets this time of year, the tomatoes are sure to catch your eye. Enticing shades of reds, yellows, oranges, and greens stand out among the seasonal bounty. Heirlooms are a delectable addition to your favorite summer recipes, raw or cooked. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants like lycopene, so they are also wonderfully nutritious.
Is it really a picnic without watermelon? This sweet, refreshing snack evokes memories of family get-togethers and days at the beach. You will find many San Diego farmers growing different varieties of this juicy summer icon. Look for classic red or heirloom varieties of yellow—and even orange—watermelons. And be sure not to miss out on ripe cantaloupes. Enjoy these fruits as a delicious bite any time of the day, or get creative with recipes like cantaloupe salsa or watermelon poke. The possibilities and options for enjoyment are endless when it comes to melons.
Sweet and hot peppers grow beautifully in the California sun. You will find many specialty varieties of peppers at summer farm stands, signaling it’s time to spice up new recipes and savor your favorites. Bring on the heat by fermenting local cayennes to make a homemade hot sauce, or char them to perfection on an open flame.
As versatile as winter varieties, summer squash come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. From the trusty zucchini to the adorable pattypan and everything in between, this vitamin-rich summer crop should definitely find its way to your table!
Fun fact: Avocados, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and peppers, although generally referred to as vegetables, are botanically fruits because they produce seeds.
Make the most of summer fruits and more with these plant-based recipes.
Summery, crunchy, herby, and protein-dense goodness.
Another good idea for summer squash.
Perfect for those hot summer nights when you don't want to cook and would rather eat a bag of chips.
Published in the print edition of Edible San Diego's summer 2022 issue.
Read issue 66 online now.