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Cooking for One: Summer Veggies

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I’m a big swimmer, especially in the summer. It’s a great way to unwind from a hard day at work, and I usually swim for at least an hour every evening. By the time I’m done, I’m ravenous and it’s late, so I turn to my trusty stash of summer vegetables for a delicious, simple dinner for one.With such gorgeous, sweet tomatoes in season, I enjoying slicing one and topping it with salt and pepper. Add to that some fresh summer field peas I cooked up on the weekend (usually with an onion and sometimes a smoked ham hock) eaten cold with a splash of vinegar and half of an avocado with a squeeze of lime and you’ve got a healthy, filing summer meal that requires minimal work with great rewards.Need a little more protein after a vigorous swim or workout? On the weekend, I like to roast a chicken or pork tenderloin or maybe boil some shrimp so I can have some with my assortment of summer veggies for an extra boost all week long. Kept in the fridge already sliced or peeled, these simply prepared proteins make a quick, easy addition to a weeknight meal of summer vegetables.Some other great ideas for summer produce:

  • Don’t forget the okra! If you think the only way to eat okra is breaded and fried, or even boiled and slimy (although, I must admit, I like it that way), think again. For a couple of interesting ways to cook okra, slice and sauté in a little canola oil until just brown and crispy or slice it in half and grill it on each side until crispy. The “slime” disappears and you’re left with a unique, satisfying treat.

  • Zucchini and squash are available in abundance all summer long and taste great when sautéed in canola oil with a little onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Feeling decadent? Try topping it off with a handful of panko bread crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over the top and broil until brown. I do it all in an iron skillet and it takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. One medium yellow squash or zucchini is usually plenty for me as a meal or a side, depending on my hunger level.

  • Watermelon can be savory too! A little chopped red onion and crumbled feta combine with cut watermelon to make an awesome salad. You can usually find all of the ingredients on your Whole Foods Market salad bar and toss them together yourself. Add a little freshly chopped mint if you have it on hand or in your garden for some extra zing.

  • Don’t forget dessert! Cut a peach in half, discard the pit and brush with some melted butter and brown sugar.  Grill cut-side down for about 3 or 4 minutes. Serve with ice cream or just eat them by themselves.

  • A container of cut, seedless watermelon in our produce session is always a great treat for one since buying a whole watermelon for one person is a little intimidating, to say the least!

Now that I’ve given you some of my favorite summer produce favorites, what are yours and how do you prepare them when cooking for one?

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