Kick It Cali-style Over Labor Day Weekend With Summer’s Best Produce
The Golden State delivers vibrant, luscious fruits and vegetables for the season’s last bash. Sponsored by CA GROWN.
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Sponsored by CA GROWN.
It’s not easy to say farewell to summer. Those long lazy days by the pool, hot afternoons sipping cool drinks beneath shady trees, and good times with family and friends feel like they could last forever … but they don't. So it’s time for one final hurrah. But this Labor Day weekend take your inspiration from the Golden State. Why? Because it’s the land where summer never quite ends.
Get to the market and grab the best of California’s heirloom tomatoes, summer corn, shiny eggplant, curvy bell peppers, pebbly avocados, and luscious stone fruit like yellow nectarines and delicate white peaches. Try the recipes below, which celebrate the best of the state: Mexican corn salad, Vietnamese-inspired vegetable summer rolls, tomato galette, and grilled fruits and veggies, and gather your favorite crew for one last party. It’s time to raise a glass (ideally, the Strawberry Lemon Smash below), dig into summer’s last, most luscious fruits and veggies, and toast the good times.
Vietnamese rice paper rolls are the ultimate refreshing summer snack, and these veggie rolls are like tiny abstract paintings you can pick up and eat. Thinly sliced red cabbage, pale green avocado slices, orange carrot strips, crunchy scallion slivers, and oodles of fresh cilantro and basil create a neon rainbow that’s good enough to eat.
When heirloom tomatoes grown in California are at their peak, you want to eat them in as many ways as you can. Sure, everyone has a tomato salad recipe, but you can wow your guests by making a galette and layering the prettiest heirloom tomato slices you’ve got on top. A sprinkle of pecorino cheese and some candied bacon help the summer tomatoes shine.
Find out what Californians have been going crazy about: Fresh corn, cooked or grilled and sold in restaurants and from street carts, slathered with crema (similar to sour cream), lime juice, fresh cilantro and sprinkled with cotija cheese. It’s a Northeastern Mexican dish that’s become a state favorite. Here it’s easy to eat in the form of a summery corn salad with a lime juice-based dressing, chopped red onion, and plenty of cilantro and smoky spices — if you can’t find cotija cheese, crumbled feta makes a fine substitute.
Nothing says summer like the tangy sweetness of fresh strawberries. Be sure to muddle the strawberries well so they exude as much flavor as possible. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd, and you can dice the strawberries the day before, making it a cool snap to stir up cocktails for guests as they arrive. You can buy lemon simple syrup, but it's also a breeze to make: Just add a few lemon slices to the mix while you're making regular simple syrup.
Tomatoes get grilled while still on the vine in this innovative steak salad that features some of the most luscious summer bounty of a Cali farm: bell pepper, scallions, summer squashes, and eggplant, all of which get brushed with a rosemary-garlic oil you put together quickly on the grill. Vinegar and honey get stirred into the reserved oil at the end for an easy homemade dressing that makes the meal come together like a summer sunset.
When nectarines ripen, you want to eat them all — but there has to be more to make than just pies and another jar of jam. Use your glut of summer stone fruit for these decadent desserts. Nectarines, grilled to carmelization, top sweet buttermilk biscuits. A dollop of crème fraîche lends sophistication.
These easy flatbreads have way more fiber and nutrients than traditional doughs, and with only two ingredients — mashed sweet potato and a little flour — are simple to whip up before guests arrive. Then it gets fun: Put out bowls of summer cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese, thinly sliced red onion, best-of-the-season cut fresh figs, sliced peppers, olives, and olive oil for drizzling. Then let guests customize like crazy. Gently slide them onto an oiled medium grill; lower the cover and grill for three-four minutes or until the cheese is melty and toppings have crisped up. Scatter with fresh basil and revel in the compliments.