There's a good reason — make that plenty of good reasons — why local foods are so popular. Produce that's been grown nearby is typically fresher, riper, and better tasting than fruits and vegetables from afar. (After all, it's grown for taste and nutrition, not so that it can withstand cross-country travel.) Buying locally supports independent local farmers, the local economy, and global sustainability. And, because local foods are easier to track and less vulnerable to contamination than commercially grown products, their purchase even supports food security.
Your own backyard is as local as it gets, of course, so if you're growing much of your own produce, congrats! There are plenty of other options for scoring local bounty, too, though. Farmers' Markets are growing in number and scope. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enables communities to share in the harvest of local farmers. Food co-ops typically offer a good selection of local fare (produce and other goods, too). And many commercial grocery stores now offer an array of local fare in their produce aisles. (To find local farms, CSAs, Farmers' Markets, and other opportunities to support local foods, visit the Local Harvest website.)
Here's a selection of recipes that make the most of in-season fruits and vegetables with just-the-right seasonings! What's in season varies a bit according to where you live, of course. So keep an eye out for what's in season in your area. We've based our suggestions on some of the most available fruits and vegetables in the major North American growing regions in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
- Celebrate the arrival of spring —and asparagus — with Smoked Paprika Grilled Asparagus.
- How lucky for us that spinach and strawberries often arrive in the same season! Here's a Avocado Strawberry Salad.
- New potatoes are delicious as is, but they rise to gourmet heights with the simple addition of seasonings in this recipe for Roasted New Potatoes with Garlic and Thyme.
- A healthy harvest of leeks is seasoned with dill weed, marjoram, basil, salt and pepper in this Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing and Sauteed Leeks.
- Here's a Vegetable Rice Paella that includes much of the season's bounty, such as bell peppers, green beans and tomatoes. Fennel, saffron, salt, and red pepper flakes make the melded ingredients zing.
- Eggplant is transformed into a hearty appetizer in this recipe for Eggplant Dip. Thyme, paprika, allspice, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper infuse the eggplant as it cooks in the crockpot.
- Sweet Peppers are beautifully stuffed with tomatoes and corn and seasoned with nutmeg, cumin, and cayenne, in these Fire-Roasted Stuffed Peppers.
- Tomatoes won't go to waste once you start serving Broiled Sesame Tomatoes as a refreshing summer appetizer or snack.
- Use any seasonal fruit (such as melons and peaches) to make Grilled Peaches with Vegan Cinnamon Ice Cream.
- Mexican seasonings nicely spice up sweet corn, as in this Black Bean Salsa, seasoned with Hawaiian Black Salt, garlic and cayenne. You can also simply sprinkle a Mexican Seasoning blend on that buttered ear of fresh corn!
- Zucchini begs for ways to be prepared! Lemon Pepper Zucchini Cakes with Tzatziki is one great option.
- Apples appear in everything from pies and crisps to stuffings and sauces this time of year. Like many other fall fruits and veggies, they're well seasoned with homey, warm spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cloves and coriander. Pack some of their goodness in lunchboxes with these Autumn Apple Muffins.
- Cruciferous veggies are robust and do well with a good dose of spices. Spiced Pickled Apples and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Orange Marinade make great side dishes.
- Squash arrive now and serve us throughout much of the winter, too. Southwest spices season this dessert of Butternut Squash Pie.
- Pumpkins aren't just for carving! Use freshly pureed pumpkin in this molasses-and-spice flavored Pumpkin Bread, or spice things up on for dessert with Pumpkin Custard.
- Roasted Beet Skewers with Curried Yogurt Dipping Sauce is one recipe you'll want to keep on hand for cool weather crops beets.
- Carrots play a starring role in this fresh Gingered Carrot Salad.
- Mashed Turnips and Rutabagas benefit from the liberal use of spices and are great for holiday gatherings or family dinner.
- Onions are called to serve in so many savory dishes and soups, such as Onion and Barley Soup with Kale and Gluten-Free French Onion Soup.
Use the search box on our recipe page to find recipes for any produce, any time of year!