by Guest Columnist & KosherEye Friend, Gloria Kobrin
When I was a child, we had grapefruits and apples in Winter and peaches, plums and berries in Summer. As I got older, I started to notice that many types of fruits and vegetables were increasingly available all the time. The concept of waiting for the seasons to change and the anticipation of tasting the first strawberries of Summer had disappeared. Due to flash freezing, speedy transportation and, unfortunately, some degree of biological engineering, we are able to obtain produce from around the country, in fact, the world, at any time of year.
I live in New York City where there is a plethora of local farmers markets. In preparation for this article, I went down to the Union Square farmers market with my daughter and grandson to see what was available. There were stalls of “scapes” or baby garlics, red and white baby leeks, fresh fava beans, freshly shelled peas, tomatoes, spinach, kale, apples, rhubarb and stalls and stalls of strawberries. At the mushroom stall, the oyster mushrooms were huge and undulating and almost resembled a sea creature. In between, there were stalls of herbs; and my grandson’s favorite -– stalls of organic preserves with several jars opened and available to taste with crackers.
In spite of all of the choices that fill the grocery aisles all year long, the truth is that seasonal produce is still the best.Certain tastes and textures can simply be achieved only by Mother Nature; and I look forward to certain ‘treats’ of summer all year long.
I am addicted to Jersey tomatoes. I wait every year for them to show up on the shelves all mottled and weird looking but so incredibly delicious. It is these tomatoes that remind me that tomatoes are officially a fruit and not a vegetable. They can be as sweet and satisfying as any peach or nectarine; and just as wonderfully messy to eat. Tomatoes can be incorporated into any number of dishes, or simply eaten with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Who doesn’t love stone fruit? The slightly acidic taste of orange peaches, eaten raw in hand, poached, baked or sautéed; paired with brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon or cardamom. The more delicate white peach or fuzz-less nectarine eaten as is or sliced into a beautiful summer fruit salad. The whimsical donut peach is a more dense peach and is best savoured with no adornments. Plums are fantastic but their juice is hazardous – it stains any other fruit with which it comes in contact during the baking process, not to mention your clothes. I find apricots to be the mildest and most delicate fruit of all. They are great out of hand or as the star of a delicious tart.
It would be a crime to ignore our beautiful summer vegetables in their myriad variations! Is there anything more satisfying than corn on the cob? Golden yellow, ivory white or bi–colored, summer corn is a special pleasure whether roasted in the husk, boiled in water or grilled on the barbecue. Vegetables that are often thought of as slightly bitter or strong take on a sweetness in summer. Try summer radishes thinly sliced in green salads or potato salads, or try pickling them. Red and white spring onions, which look like baby leeks, are much sweeter and more tender than their winter counterparts. Sliced thinly and sautéed, they also add a nice touch of color to your dish. Although I’ve become accustomed to adding frozen peas directly into a recipe at the last minute to retain their green color, Summer’s English peas are fabulous and sweet as candy. They beg to be eaten raw or sautéed quickly in butter. Fresh Summer fava beans are a delicacy and worth preparing at least once, in spite of all the work involved in shelling them before your real preparation begins.
Summer is here and I hope you enjoy the many colors and flavors of its bounty as much as I do. All it takes is an inspirational trip to the farmer’s market to remind you of the beauty of fruits and vegetables enjoyed in their own season!
About the Author
Gloria Kobrin, an established member of the Manhattan Jewish Community, has been cooking up a storm in many capacities for her whole adult life. Her vast cooking repertoire encompasses many cuisines, and focuses on adapting them to suit kosher dietary laws–thus introducing food that is not traditionally "Jewish" to a kosher audience.
Gloria first arrived on the New York culinary scene with a cooking column in The Jewish Week, a New York weekly newspaper. She has also run a series of cooking classes for Yeshiva University and worked as a boutique baker, selling baked goods out of her own home kitchen.
She is the author of Kosher Cookbook for the iPhone and iPad – over 300 exclusive recipes along with more than 52 customized meal plans for Shabbat, Jewish holidays and all special occasions in between. Visit Gloria on her KosherCookbook blog,