Food tastes so much more like itself when it’s in season. In other words, so much better.
There are many reasons to shop seasonally: in-season foods are more nutritionally dense, it helps reduce your carbon footprint, you can support local farms and growers, and most importantly, your cooking will benefit from brighter, fuller flavors, enabling delicious dishes to come together with less added salt, sugar, fat, and spices.
Here’s our cheat sheet for how to start shopping seasonally, with a focus on the summer.
When you’re meal planning, build around seasonal ingredients.
Starting with foundational seasonal ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, melon, cucumbers – is a great way to brainstorm and incorporate new dishes into your repertoire. Rather than cruising through your typical mix of recipes, start by perusing the farmers market to see what catches your eye, then do some research on how to make those ingredients shine.
For us, the stars of the show in summer are juicy, ripe tomatoes that come in different varieties. You can put them to work in our Essential Pan with our Summer Puttanesca or in our Sauce Pan with our One-Pot Summer Pasta.
Try out different preparations to better understand seasonal ingredients' flavor.
Many ingredients are equally delicious raw, roasted, boiled, grilled, or braised depending on the dish. By experimenting with different preparations of the same fruit or vegetable, you can learn a lot about its texture and flavor profile. Try using each ingredient from root to stem, which helps cut down on food waste and is good for your wallet, health, and the planet.
Peaches, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes are a great place to start. Chop them up with your Chef's Knife and taste to get a sense of their flavor. Then, decide if you want to highlight them in a salad, or cook them down in a pasta or served as a side.
Make your ripe ingredients last by making and freezing a sauce.
One of the questions we get most frequently is how to cut down on food waste. Nothing feels worse than finding forgotten and wilted produce in the back of the fridge.
Our pro tip: make a sauce and freeze it! If you have fresh basil, make a pesto. Juicy, ripe tomatoes? The tomato sauce you make and freeze during the summer will taste equally delicious in winter when you want something warm and comforting. With peaches and berries, we like to make simple jams and jellies to eat during the rest of the year.
Have a favorite seasonal recipe or seasonal ingredient? Let us know on Instagram @getequalparts.