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Produce of summer [Judie Steeves]

There’s nothing quite like the flavours of lovely, fresh, local fruits and vegetables in the middle of summer, when so much has reached its peak of maturity—all at once. It’s enough to inspire one to invite friends and family over for a bite and a sip on the patio, so here are a few ideas to take that thought a step further.

Berries and other sweet fruits are delectable tumbled over a green salad with a crumbled sharp-flavoured, locally-made cheese such as feta or blue; or cut up and mixed into a bowl full of plain B.C. Yogurt. Or, mash them into an exotic summer drink, lightened with simple soda water.

Fresh, refreshing and full of flavour, cherries and berries are symbolic of summer. But, there are many other flavours that are also evocative of this time of year, with its long, hot days ablaze with lots of sun.

I’m eating my first tomatoes of the season right off the vine now, and that’s a flavour I’ve waited eight months for. Then, there’s the peas and beans, baby carrots from when I thinned a row—and the salad greens have been fantastic. I’ve got pots of dried herbs set aside for winter and I’ve been enjoying all of them fresh from the garden for months.

Next, I’m looking forward to an over-abundance of zucchini, some garden-fresh cucumbers and the list goes on and on. What you can’t eat right away, can it, freeze it or dry it, and share with friends and neighbours, co-workers and family.

Anything I didn’t grow, I find someone else has grown it locally for me and it’s available fresh-picked at the farmers’ market, so there’s no reason to not be inspired by what’s in season in mid-summer.

Be generous with the bounty and share it with those you love: have a party.

Tomato & Avocado Salsa

Refreshing vegetables, livened up with fresh herbs and a little seasoning, make a terrific summer dip for whole-grain pita crisps or as a dip for crackers or crisp bread.

1 avocado, minced

drizzle of lemon or lime juice

3 plum tomatoes, minced

1/2 small sweet onion

1/2 jalapeno pepper

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tsp. (10 ml) mayonnaise

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

5 drops hot sauce

Fresh basil leaves

Mince avocado and drizzle with lemon to help prevent browning, then mince remaining vegetables and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Mix mayo, Worcestershire and hot sauce and dress the salsa with it.

Top with minced fresh basil leaves.

Serve with pita crisps or tortilla chips for dipping, or spread on little crisp toasts from a baguette.

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Vol.102 Issue 9