Updated: Aug 22
Although it can be difficult to keep plants alive during the hottest stretch of the summer, some veggies continue to thrive. Okra, peppers, eggplants, and melons are some of the most bountiful veggies right now.
Okra, an African native, defies the summer heat by transforming into tree-sized plants with gorgeous flowers that rival those of the hibiscus, its close relative. While some folks cringe at the sliminess, there are many different ways to try it before writing it off completely. Fried in batter, roasted, or grilled, are great ways to avoid a slimy texture. Pickled okra, a southern tradition, is another great way to enjoy them. Another traditional way to prepare okra is to cook it into a saucy stew like gumbo or curry.
Whether you like them sweet or prefer a fiery flavor, there are countless pepper varieties to enjoy this time of year. Take advantage of the hot peppers that are rolling in, and whip up a batch of hot sauce that will keep a fire in your belly all year long. I prefer to ferment my peppers before processing them into a sauce, but you can skip that part if you prefer. What fun it is to mix and match varieties to create a unique flavor! Lunchbox peppers are one of my favorite quick snacks in the garden. Shishitos are another excellent choice blistered on a grill or skillet.
Eggplant, another divisive vegetable like okra, is also one of my absolute favorites. Eggplant, also incredibly versatile, can be transformed into a creamy textured spread like Baba Ganoush, or simply grill it up with some garden herbs and a simple sauce or marinade. Classic Italian eggplant dishes like Eggplant Parmesan, Rollatini, or Caponata can be a crowd pleasing dinner option for the whole family. Give it a try, and it will be a "meatless Monday" must have. And if every day is meatless, this will be an excellent addition to your rotation of veggie dishes. Love eggplant as much as I do? Don't be afraid to throw it in other dishes like stir fry, curry, fajitas, and beyond.
Melons are a staple for me when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees. Keep a ripe sweet melon in the fridge at all times during the summer, to ensure that you can always come in from the heat to a hydrating and refreshing treat. Pair with one or two other fruits like grapes or berries and add a sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil, mint, or shiso and a spritz of lemon or lime juice. Perfect summertime snack! Easy peasy. You can also infuse melons in water (like cucumbers or lemons) for another refreshing way to enjoy them and stay hydrated.
Enjoy the fruits of summer while they last, and if you are missing your tender mixed greens and cole crops, fear not, as they will be making their return as early as next month! Some farms manage to keep their salad greens going all season, and you can too, by sowing well-timed successions throughout the season. Stay tuned for more info on August gardening tips in our next post!