As we enter the final days of summer, fruit stands, farmers markets, and grocery-store aisles are bursting with berries, peaches, tomatoes, figs, and more of the season’s most delectable produce. These cookbooks will help you savor it all, whether you’re cooking for yourself, a party, or preserving them for later.
A really good avocado is so rich and flavorful that it can taste sinfully delicious–but that’s no reason not to indulge. Why not take advantage of the height of avocado season to make some guacamole for a sporting-event viewing party? Or, go beyond the dip with the many inventive recipes in Gaby Dalkin‘s Absolutely Avocados. And yes: They can be used for every meal.
Berries of all kinds
Late summer is the time when the abundance of berries—blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, huckleberries (the list goes on!)—can seem almost overwhelming, not to mention the flood of ripe tomatoes, plumsm and other fruits. Luckily, as Kevin West shows in Saving the Season, canning and preserving them at home is easier than you think. So go ahead and bury yourself in berries the next time you’re at the market.
As the longtime head chef at Alice Waters‘ famed Berkeley, Calif., restaurant Chez Panisse, David Tanis knows all about using simple, fresh ingredients from the garden to create spectacular meals. The humble fruit that graces the cover of his bestselling cookbook, A Platter of Figs, earns its place on your late-summer table with Tanis’ recipe for melon and figs with prosciutto and mint, the ideal appetizer.
There might be nothing better than biting into a perfectly ripe peach at the end of summer. But as the Masumoto family knows, who’ve been growing some of the country’s best peaches in California’s Central Valley for more than 60 years, there’s a whole lot more you can do with them. Their cookbook, The Perfect Peach offers recipes for peach chutney, peach cobbler, peach pickles, peach pie, peach gazpacho and much more.
Tomatoes are so ubiquitous year-round–in pizza and spaghetti sauce, in ketchup, in sandwiches, in salads, etc.–that we can forget how transcendently delicious they are at the end of summer, when they’re ripest and most flavorful. So, treat the year’s finest tomatoes with the respect they deserve with some of the many recipes that range from classic to surprising in Avner Laskin‘s cookbook, Tomatoes.
Last but not least, let’s close with the rotund king of summer fruit, watermelon. It’s good for more than just watermelon seed-spitting contests, as Ina Garten proves with her outrageously tasty recipe for arugula, watermelon and feta salad that you’ll find in her cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? A little bitter, sweet and savory–just like the end of summer.
This piece originally ran on September 5, 2013.