This is one of the best times to explore farmers markets. Seasonal local stone fruits fresh from the tree, vine-ripened tomatoes and glorious warm weather squashes in green and yellow are waiting for you.

It’s time to celebrate all that is ripe, delicious and nutritious. Show your appreciation of our community farmers and get inspiration for fresh, tasty dishes.

Take advantage of amazing produce with these simple recipes, which allow you to minimize time in the kitchen so that you can enjoy more time basking in the splendid warm weather!

Pasta is more versatile than ever. Noodles made from flour, rice and beans allows everyone, regardless of their dietary restrictions, to experience this light, but filling, dish.

Sweet peppers are technically a fruit, not a vegetable. A fruit is the part of the plant that contains the seeds. If you want to eat a little healthier this season, wash your sweet peppers and put them in a bowl set in an accessible place for a grab-and-go snack.

Sautéed Pepper and Zucchini Pasta

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small sweet peppers in assorted colors, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into thick slices and then quartered
  • 12 oz. of pasta of choice
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces (or substitute nut of choice)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and onion, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until almost tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add zucchini slices to the skillet and cook until peppers are tender and zucchini is crisp-tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Add pasta to skillet mixture and toss to coat. Serve topped with torn basil and walnuts.

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This is a twist on the traditional spring roll and a dessert you can feel good about eating! Explore your creative side by experimenting with a variety of fresh, local fruit.

Fresh Fruit Spring Rolls

  • 6 rice papers
  • ¼ melon of choice or a variety of melon, not too ripe
  • ½ peach, fairly firm
  • 12 strawberries, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsps. granulated raw sugar
  • Chocolate sauce, whipped cream, coconut for topping, optional

Peel the melon, cut it in julienne style and sprinkle with lime juice. Julienne the peach. Soak the rice paper in warm water for half minute or until pliable, then drain and put on a flat surface. Fill the center of the paper with fruit and a few mint leaves.

Wrap the rice paper as you would a burrito; folding the ends over the filling and then folding in the top and bottom to close. Grind the sugar with a few mint leaves in the mortar and serve with the spring rolls cut in half.

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There is no substitute for local, in season, juicy tomatoes fresh from the garden. We are certainly spoiled in East Texas with the variety and abundance of this crop. Make sure to enjoy tomatoes all summer, either in a dish or on their own.

Summer Vegetable and White Bean Salad

  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed; or fresh, cooked bean of choice
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if using a larger tomato, like heirloom)
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 ear fresh corn, roasted over the grill or in the oven
  • Handful fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Season the corn with a salt-free seasoning blend and roast the corn until golden brown, about 25 minutes, turning it half way through cooking. Use a knife to remove corn kernels from the cob. In a bowl, combine corn with tomatoes, cucumber and cannellini beans.

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with basil. Stir to combine well.

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This is delicious with thick, crusty bread or as a topping on romaine lettuce. A lot of people have their favorite cobbler recipe. This one has just a few ingredients and requires minimal effort. Bursting with blackberry goodness, don’t expect to have leftovers!

Speedy Blackberry Cobbler Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla plant milk, warmed
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Be sure to warm your milk before using or it will harden the coconut oil when combined. Add milk and mix well. Add oil, mix well again.

Pour batter into an 8 inch baking dish. Drop blackberries into batter, distributing evenly. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a few minutes and serve.

Adapted from Simple-Veganista

Leslie Harrison of Tyler, Texas, is a certified Food For Life nutrition and cooking instructor. 

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