As July turns to August, the growing season in central New York is at its peak. A bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at your local farmer’s market, community garden or even your own backyard. If there was ever a time to attempt to eat more ethically, it’s now!
There are few ways to eat more ethically and sustainably than eating in-season, locally grown produce. When you purchase local and in-season goods, you diminish your food’s carbon footprint tremendously by eliminating the need to store, cure, freeze and transport your produce. Plus you support the local economy and get to enjoy fresh, healthy and organic produce!
If you are looking for ways to enjoy in-season veggies, here are some of my favorite dishes to get you started with two of the most prominent vegetables right now, squash and tomatoes:
Zucchini / Squash
Zoodles: A low-carb alternative to traditional noodles. You can thinly slice zucchini (or use a spiralizer to create perfect noodles) and substitute these in any of your favorite pasta recipes. Zoodles only take about five minutes to cook on a stovetop.
Zucchini Bread: Many recipes exist, but this is my favorite. This makes a deliciously moist bread and you can’t even taste the zucchini! Walnuts and dark chocolate chips are optional.
Calabacitas: Literally translating to “little squash” or “zucchini” in English, this popular Mexican dish makes a delicious filling for a burrito, topping for nachos or side dish served on its own. Saute together any combination of zucchini or squash, onions, peppers, tomato, corn, spices and other vegetables and add cheese, lettuce, rice or beans for a quick and easy summer dinner.
Ratatouille: An easy way to use up any extra vegetables. Thinly slice squash, zucchini, eggplant and tomato and arrange neatly in a deep dish. Top with a tomato-based sauce and add spices as needed. Bake at 375-400 degrees until vegetables are soft. Here is a more in-depth recipe.
Baked Parmesan Squash: This may be my favorite way to enjoy squash, as its preparation is quick and easy. Thinly slice, squash and toss with salt and pepper. Shred fresh parmesan cheese on top and bake at 375-400 degrees until soft. (Alternatively, I let the squash boil in a ¼ cup of water on my stove top for around 15 minutes at a medium high heat to avoid turning on the oven in my non-air conditioned apartment. I then drain the remaining water and top with seasonings and cheese.)
Salsa: Blend together any combination of tomato, red orwhite onion, hot or sweet pepper, garlic, lemon or lime and spices (cilantro, cumin, salt, etc.) for a sweet or spicy snack.
Shakshuka: A perfect quick breakfast or filling dinner, this dish originated in North Africa, but has since spread throughout the globe with a variety of variations. Here is one recipe I enjoy. Feel free to experiment with spices and vegetables!
Pizza or Pasta Sauce: You can be as creative as you like in the creation and use of this staple to most American cabinets. Here’s a recipe to get you started with ideas for spices & vegetables.
Gazpacho: Here’s a great recipe for a refreshing, tomato-based summer soup.
Brianna Johnson is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].