Sue’s Morning Stretch: Fresh produce of July makes meal prep so easy

SHARE Sue’s Morning Stretch: Fresh produce of July makes meal prep so easy

Oh, we’re getting into the weeks when we have a bounty of choices at our farmers markets. It’s a great time for home cooks. (Looking for a Chicago farmers market. Check out the options here.)

This blackberry cobbler from Southern Living magazine is just as simple as it is stunning. | Photo: Jennifer Davick / Food Styling Marian Cooper Cairns/Southern Living

This blackberry cobbler from Southern Living magazine is just as simple as it is stunning. | Photo: Jennifer Davick / Food Styling Marian Cooper Cairns/Southern Living

Beets, peppers, green beans, tomatoes and sweet corn are just the start of what’s available now and continuing for the next several weeks, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Not a fan of beets? That might be because you’ve only had canned. Follow these directions from the Food Network and tell me if the result doesn’t taste like an altogether different food.

Fresh tomatoes can turn into a side dish with grilled chicken or meat in no time. Wash and slice them, sprinkle a little salt and then top with a little balsamic vinegar. Or, I make a buttermilk dressing (you can give Jamie Oliver’s a try), put a bit on the sliced tomatoes and serve them. That’s it. Anyone complains, tell them how lucky they are to be getting fresh tomatoes; they’ll be dreaming about them in the sub-zero days of Chicago’s January.

Certainly don’t forget the fruit options, either. Peaches and nectarines are showing up now, as are blueberries from nearby. If you run into blackberries, by all means grab some up. Sure they taste wonderful eaten out of hand, but this cobbler from Southern Living is simple and spectacular-looking. Use it to impress dinner guests.

The beauty of fresh produce is you have to do so little to it to achieve big taste results. That makes mealtime that much less complicated and gives everyone — especially the cook — time to sit back and enjoy summer.

— Sue Ontiveros


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