Summer's Almost Over: Use These Ingredients While You Can

Labor Day has come and gone, school's back in session, and the weather is turning cooler. Though it may feel like fall is already here, we've still got a good week until summer is officially over. And there's one way to eek a little more out of the final days of the season: Grabbing all the summer fruits and veggies you can before those ripe tomatoes, sweet ears of corn, and juicy berries are gone until next year. Yahoo Shine talked to a few restaurant chefs to gather some ideas on how to take advantage of the last of summer's farm-fresh bounty. Give' em a read and then get to your farmer's market before time runs out!

Corbis CORN
"Corn is so versatile. You can roast it, sauté it, boil it or just eat it raw (when it's in season)," Stefan Richter, chef and owner of Stefan's at L.A. Farm in Santa Monica, California, and multiple restaurants in Europe, told Yahoo Shine. And he's got a few ideas for how to use those final kernels.

A speedy salsa
Richter suggests giving some ears a quick roast before scraping them off the cobs and making them into a super flavorful salsa. "Combine with some lime juice, salt and pepper, cilantro, tomato, and red onion and your favorite pepper," he said. "You can add any other favorite ingredients and it takes less than 15 minutes."

A saucy puree
To make a quick and versatile sauce, the former "Top Chef" finalist advises sautéing raw corn kernels with some onion, a little butter, a splash of stock, and a bit of cream (sounds like a winning combination already), then simmering for 15 minutes and giving the concoction a whirl in the blender. "It's my absolute favorite. Great to serve with scallops and pumpkin seed oil."


New York-based Michael Psilakis, chef/owner of eateries including MP Taverna and Fishtag, prefers serving crispy green beans cold in a salad. "Blanch and shock them so they stay warm and if you can, dry them outside in the sun," he said.

How to make sure they last
Psilakis's top tip for ensuring your beans keep? Wrap them in a paper towel before putting them into a bag or container and popping them in the refrigerator. "This will help dry up any moisture that is created in the fridge."

An olive alternative
Warren Cordoba, executive chef of Citron Restaurant at the Viceroy Palm Springs uses a quick pickle to turn a plain green bean into a fun drink garnish. "You take red wine vinegar, a little bit of sugar, some black pepper and boil that all together," he told Yahoo Shine. "Put the beans in a bowl with ice. Pour the hot liquid over the ice and just stick in your fridge," he said. The beans will start pickling after just an hour or two, but leaving them overnight is even better. "You can do it with asparagus too. Put them in a martini instead of your traditional olive. It's kind of a new twist on drinks right now."

"When tomatoes are in season there are so many things you can do with them," said Richter. For one of his favorite recipes, he gets a little help from the stove top.

Fried green ones
After slicing the tomatoes up and sprinkling with salt and pepper, dip the slices in buttermilk and then in pizza flour (which you can buy online if you can't find it at your grocery store). Then fry them in hot veggie oil until golden brown. Richter suggests serving them with a garlic aioli. To make a batch, combine a cup of mayo with three cloves of garlic, half a cup of lemon juice, and some chopped parsley.

A simple salad with a twist
"Everybody looks at me like I'm a little nutty, but I just take sliced tomatoes, good salt, and good pepper. Then I take some nice pickles and mince those up all over the tomatoes. Add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and maybe a little bit of basil on top," Cordoba shared. "It's a great appetizer for a dinner. It opens up your taste buds because it has a little tartness to it, a little acid, and a little salt in there. It has all these perfect components."

Simon Murrell/Corbis STRAWBERRIES
By the end of the season, berries can become so sweet that they can go bad quickly. "Right now, strawberries have a tendency to become very watery, over-sugary," explained Cordoba. "That high sugar content makes them very susceptible to breakdown. You buy them and you'd better use them in two days."

Match tart and sweet
Wash and cut your strawberries and toss them with a bit of lemon juice and a little sugar in the raw. "All that excess water that's coming out, the sugar turns it into almost like a natural, syrupy preserve," explained Cordoba. "The tartness of the lemon juice helps to cut the over-sweetness of the berry so it has a balance. In the beginning of the season I would add more sugar, at the end I would add more acid." 

Get boozy
Richter takes advantage of the berries' ripeness by breaking them down with a little orange liqueur. "Mix the berries, a splash of Grand Marnier, and some sugar and let sit for one hour. Add a little whip cream and eat. My absolute favorite with berries."


Since melons are also super sweet this time of year, Psilakis likes to pair the fruit with salty components.

Make it a salad
"Feta cheese and watermelon are a perfect match. If you haven’t put your grill away yet, toss a little salt on the watermelon and throw it on the grill for a more refined, interesting taste," he said. Cordoba adds a little mint and avocado oil and suggests swapping triple creme brie for feta once in a while. "You're looking for the richness of the cheese to balance out the melon."

More on Yahoo Shine:

The Perfect Summer-to-Fall Transition Meal
17 Signs Your a Wine Snob
Make an Easy Blackberry Skillet Cake