Eggplant Basil BellPeppers Cucumber Green Tomato Strawberries Red Tomatos Corn
August 2008

Two months into to summer and you’ve run out of creative ways to showcase those summer fruits and vegetables. Produce is still at its peak for another lunar cycle, so it’s not too late to consider giving your favorite summer food a little modulation. Here, seven chefs offer recipes to liven up a few summer produce staples.

Grilled Sea Scallops with Granny Smith Apple, Coconut Milk and Curried Eggplant
Chef Alan Hughes of One Ninety – Miami, Florida
In this entrée, curried eggplant and coconut milk add pan-Asian flavors and a bright, summery sentiment to the dish. “Aubergine,” as our neighbors across the pond call it, develops a rich complex taste as it cooks, and is a somewhat out-of-the-box – and delicious – complement to the scallops and the apple.

In a Hammock...
Mixologist Amanda Gager of Stripsteak – Las Vegas, NV
Consult your herb chart for ways to elevate the sensuality of your libation. The spicy, anise-like aroma of Ocimum basilicum purpurascens (purple basil) tantalizes the nose as it’s muddled in this sweet cocktail. Though its color enhancing abilities aren’t put to use here, purple basil can alter the color of your drinks in the most delightful way; just steep it in alcohol to imbue with a purple hue.

Bell Pepper
Paprika Punch
Mixologist Eben Freeman of Tailor – New York, NY
This fruit’s versatility is often overlooked because of its common association with the savory plate. In this refreshing concoction, sweet peppers have migrated from the kitchen to the bar. Freshly juiced bell peppers form the base of nicely vegetal, fresh-tasting lemonade that complements rum with its natural sweetness and tang. These are the months to remember “paprika” (common name in Europe) can belong in a low-ball, not just the cupboard.

Cucumber-Horseradish Soup, Pellegrino-Mint Sorbet
Chef Josh Perkins of The Globe – Atlanta, Georgia
Included with a number of fruit/vegetable “tweeners” (zucchini, bell peppers, etc.), cucumbers are available year-round, but summer is the time that they shine (and grace market shelves). As a member of the gourd family, cucumbers are somewhere in-between their fall cousins (squash) and summer brothers (melons). Their watery characteristic lends itself well to carrying other flavors – horseradish, in this case – and makes for a refreshing soup.

Green Tomato
Green Tomato Fried Pie with Tomato Sorbet
Pastry Chef Kristyne Bouley of Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant – New Orleans, LA
The amiable nature of this summer fruit allows for a number of interpretations. This dish leaves cornmeal coating far behind – instead the tomatoes are sweetened and turned into a dessert empanada, served warm and topped with a scoop of tomato sorbet.

Strawberry Turnover with Herbsaint Whipped Cream
Pastry Chef Kristyne Bouley of Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant – New Orleans, LA
Little-known strawberry fact; fisetin is a flavonoid found in strawberries that is said to have memory-enhancing properties. Maybe that’s why we can never forget that the simple pleasure of a fresh strawberry married with whipped cream...

Florida Stone Crab Terrine with Tomato Water and Avocado
Chef Louis Pous of The Dining Room Little Palm Island Resort & Spa – Little Torch Key, FL
No summer menu is complete without tomato, but it doesn’t just have to rest as a segment or slice on a plate. Tomato water reduces the summer fruit to its essence – here it adorns a simple, lush crab salad.

Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop with Corn and Crab “Risotto”
Chef Romeo Bourgault of Besh Steak – New Orleans, LA+
This entrée lets no part of the vegetable go to waste: the husk of the corn is used for presentation (yes, it is edible), the kernels add sweetness to the orzo “risotto,” and the cobs are used to flavor the broth.


   Published: August 2008