Take advantage of summer’s vibrant bounty from farmers' markets, local farm stands, or even your own backyard with these delicious recipes.
Summertime is prime time for fresh produce from your local farmers’ market, where you’ll find peaches, creole tomatoes, okra, corn, summertime squash, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and so much more. In the South, summertime recipes abound from farmers’ markets bursting at the seams with fresh, colorful, and tasty fruits and vegetables. With such fresh, local ingredients, there are plenty of easy summer recipes practically begging to be made. To name a few: Light and veggie-packed pasta with mouthwatering marinated, homegrown tomatoes, green bean pasta salad bursting with crunchy fresh flavor, and savory, crispy pan fried zucchini fritters. And that’s not even to mention the classic Southern summertime staple, fried green tomatoes. For a light dinner or happy lunch, throw all your farmers’ market bounty into one impressive summertime salad. With a few of our best produce tips and freshness-saving tricks, a trip to your local farmers’ market will become a weekly occasion. Take advantage of summer’s vibrant bounty from farmers' markets, local farm stands, or even your own backyard with these delicious summer dinner recipes that’ll last you until the fall harvest.
Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella
This recipe couldn't be easier to whip together. Start with 8 ounces of cooked pasta, stir in our Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes with desired amount of vinaigrette, and, as the finishing touch, add 1/2 cup small mozzarella balls. You'll love how quickly this fresh dinner recipe comes together.
Recipe: BLT Salad
Bake the croutons and bacon together on the same baking sheet. This rustic salad only take 20 minutes to whip up and, trust us, the results are well worth the effort. You might be tempted to go for the store-bought stuff, but homemade buttermilk dressing will really kick this salad up a notch.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk-Feta Dressing
Fried green tomatoes are a Southern delicacy. Add this recipe to your repetoire for a no-fail crowd pleaser that will be a winner with friends and family no matter what the occasion. When you're looking for a more powerful flavor in the dressing, substitute blue cheese for the feta. Don't skimp when it comes to the dill—you'll love the fresh flavor.
Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
Recipe: Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
Serve this fresh summer salad with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful tomato juices. If you can't find heirloom tomatoes near you, don't worry—this salad will be just as delicious with any ripe tomato.
Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches with Creamy Cucumber Spread
Always use a serrated knife, which cuts through the tomato's skin without damaging flesh and losing juice. These savory sandwiches are great for a casual summer cocktail party. Just slice in half to make handling just a bit easier—especially if guests are also juggling a cocktail glass.
Sesame, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
The vinaigrette is made with salty soy sauce, but before serving, sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt to add texture to the fresh tomatoes. This is probably the easiest side dish you'll come across this summer, but don't let its ease fool you—it's absolutely packed with fresh, seasonal flavor.
Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes
Recipe: Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes
This recipe makes a flavorful Tomato Vinaigrette for adding to all types of salads. Be sure to serve immediately. We love our Marinated Tomatoes tossed with spaghetti and mozzarella in our Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella recipe or use them as a garnish in a Bloody Mary. Trust us, you won't run out of ways to serve these pretty little tomatoes.
Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Recipe: Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Lemon and shallots marry for a bright taste that's ideal for a ladies' lunch or light supper. If you can't find haricots verts, use regular green beans instead. Opt for penne pasta, instead of casarecce, if you already have it on hand. We love how quickly this recipe comes together—just 30 minutes! You'll love the bright citrusy flavor paired with the perfect amount of crunch from the green beans.
The Southern Living Vegetable Plate
Mediterranean Green Beans
Recipe: Mediterranean Green Beans
Use the olive mix to dress other veggies, such as tomato wedges, cooked baby potatoes, or roasted bell peppers.
Hot Bacon Caprese Salad
Recipe: Hot Bacon Caprese Salad
Update the Italian tomato salad with a rich, tart dressing.
Zucchini Fritters with Herb-and-Mozzerella Salad
Squeezing the zucchini in paper towels helps remove excess water for a crisp, latke-like crust.
Pasta with Burst Tomatoes and Mascarpone
Blister and burst tomatoes under the broiler to hide imperfections and concentrate flavor. Use extras to fill omelets or sandwiches.
Recipe: Zucchini-Potato Casserole
This elegant tian, a French dish of layered vegetables, is delicious warm or at room temp.
Tomatoes, meet a new best friend.
Recipe: Cucumber-Basil Dressing
Fried Zucchini Straws
Recipe: Fried Zucchini Straws
One bite of these Fried Zucchini Straws and you'll be hooked.
Summer Squash Casserole
Zucchini-Carrot Salad with Catalina Dressing
Dress thinly sliced vegetables with our fresh take on catalina dressing—inspired by two Birmingham chefs, Wil Drake and Roscoe Hall—and garnish with any fresh herbs you like.
Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Recipe: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta al dente (1 or 2 minutes shorter than package directions specify) so it holds its shape when tossed with the vegetables and vinaigrette. Ripe for riffs, this pasta salad recipe is also delicious with cheese-filled tortellini.
Video: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Grilled Mexican Corn Salad
Recipe: Grilled Mexican Corn Salad
These vibrant and fresh corn recipes are fantastic when paired with your favorite mains. Our first recipe is an off-the-cob play on a popular Mexican street dish.
Chilled Zucchini Soup
Recipe: Chilled Zucchini Soup
This refreshing soup is full of fresh flavors. Make ahead and store up to 2 days.
Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux
Spicy bits of hickory-smoked sausage kick up the heat in Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux. We liked the dish so much that the recipe was featured on our magazine cover.
Recipe: Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux
Recipe: Tomato-and-Corn Pizza
Spread pesto and fresh veggies and cheeses on a prebaked pizza crust for a simple, fresh meal. Tip: 1 medium-size ear of fresh corn yields about 1⁄2 cup kernels.
Charred Eggplant with Miso Dressing
Miso is a Japanese staple with a slightly salty, pungent flavor. Find it in the international or refrigerated aisle at your grocery store.
This creamier cousin of sorbet makes a perfect palate cleanser. You can also scoop it into a glass or paper cone and top with a glug of rum or bourbon for a play on a frozen mint julep.
Recipe: Mint-Honeydew Ice
Baked Zucchini Chips
Recipe: Baked Zucchini Chips
Serve these crispy baked chips as a side or an app.
Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Pickled Okra
Two Southern favorites come together to create one delicious recipe.
Grilled Squash and Salsa Verde
Recipe: Grilled Squash and Salsa Verde
Pepitas, goat cheese, and homemade Salsa Verde jazz up this simple veggie.
Heirloom Tomato Salad With Fresh Lady Peas
Nothing screams summer in the South more than plump, juicy heirloom tomatoes. Although these larger, colorful tomatoes have become more popular and readily available in recent years, they are still at their peak in the summer months. This simple salad of basil, pine nuts, and a light dressing showcases the true flavors of this unique fruit.
Recipe: Okra-and-Potato Hash
While traditional, the spices are not crucial. Salt and pepper will work just fine.
Cucumber-and-Charred Red Onion Relish
Chop the veggies as finely or coarsely as you like; spoon over grilled meat.
Scallion-and-Benne Cucumber Noodles
Slice the cucumbers just until you reach the seeds, but no farther or the noodles become raggedy. Pair with fish or shrimp.
Store precooked okra in the fridge in a zip-top plastic bag. Wash just before using.
Recipe: Charred Okra
Basil-Shallot Green Goddess Dressing
Use it on any salad, though it's particularly good on tomato salad.
Skillet Kale Pizza
This seasonal recipe combines the sharp flavors of red pepper, red onion, and crumbly blue cheese with hearty helping of fresh kale.
Recipe: Skillet Kale Pizza
Spicy Okra Fries
Take fried okra to the next level with these Spicy Okra Fries.
- Recipe: Spicy Okra Fries
Grilled Shrimp-and-Green Bean Salad
Freshly picked summer green beans have great texture that creates the perfect snap in each bite of this shrimp salad. Parmesan and bacon add a rich saltiness that flavors the beans and the shrimp. Serve over hot, crusty cornbread.
This quiche-like pie uses two of summer’s showstoppers— tomatoes and basil–mixed with gooey mozzarella and ham for a combination of savory and sweet. This dish is perfect for an afternoon brunch or lunch outdoors.
Recipe: Ham-and-Tomato Pie
Recipe: Corn-and-Crab Chowder
Forget the can and make of use of fresh summer corn in this soup. The lump crabmeat is worth the splurge, but you can substitute shrimp if desired. Jalapeño and green bell peppers give it a hint of spice while the creamy base creates a nice balance. Garnish with chopped, crispy bacon, corn kernels, and cilantro for a delicious meal in a bowl.
Try this chunky pesto riff as a sauce on fish or pork, tossed with cellophane or vermicelli noodles, or stirred into chicken noodle soup.
- Recipe: Peanut-Basil Relish
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to properly prepare an artichoke; this recipe is quick and easy and avoids the leaves and thistles. The cornmeal-battered chokes, which are the heart of the vegetable, turn out crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Serve with fresh Basil Mayonnaise or ranch dressing for dipping.
Recipe: Cornmeal-Fried Artichokes
Crowder Pea Succotash
Crowder peas, also known as cowpeas, are hearty and packed with protein. Combined with sweet corn, chopped onions, and bell peppers, they make a great addition to this popular Southern side dish. Serve at a family barbecue or picnic on a warm summer day.
Recipe: Crowder Pea Succotash
Recipe: Mint-Champagne Shrub
Shrub cocktails get their tart pucker from vinegar.
Salted Caramel Strawberries
Recipe: Salted Caramel Strawberries
Simple yet elegant, these sweet and salty confections are sure to impress your guests at a party. A hint of salt added to melted caramel creates a wonderful flavor combination on top of one of summer’s best fruits. Cover with chopped mixed nuts for an extra crunch and beautiful presentation.
Peppery Grilled Okra With Lemon-Basil Dipping Sauce
Although okra is commonly used in gumbos and stews, the grill can also bring out its flavor without making it too slimy. The tangy, garlic-infused Lemon-Basil Dipping Sauce is a wonderful partner for this side vegetable dish.
Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad
You can’t have a complete summer without ripe, juicy peaches. Here our favorite fuzzy fruit is kicked up a notch by throwing it on the grill and then layering it with slices of creamy mozzarella. A peach-puréed dressing with lime juice, green onions, honey, and cumin is the ultimate kicker to this knockout salad.
Rustic Plum Tart
Flaky piecrust envelops luscious plums for a crisp yet juicy summer dessert. The ripest plums might cause juices to ooze out the sides of the tart but will make the succulent dessert look that much more appealing. Before baking, sprinkle the tart and dough with coarse sugar for a professional finish.
Recipe: Rustic Plum Tart
Grilled Shrimp Gumbo Salad
Recipe: Grilled Shrimp Gumbo Salad
Terrific flavors from the garden and grill come together in this twist on a New Orleans favorite. Served in smaller portions, it also makes a great first course.
Molasses-Balsamic Pork Kabobs With Green Tomatoes and Plums
These sweet, smoky kabobs caramelize to perfection on the grill. Juicy plums and tomatoes, crunchy red onions, and chunks of pork will create a myriad of flavor combinations. Use green zebra tomatoes, an heirloom most available in the summer, as a specialty ingredient for this dish.
Arkansas Tomato Sandwiches
Reader Mary Ann Upchurch from Hominy, Oklahoma, inspired these sandwiches, named after her mother’s home state. A favorite summer comfort food, the griddle cakes her mom made were sandwiched with sliced tomato and Vidalia onion.
Recipe: Arkansas Tomato Sandwiches
Fried Okra Tacos
The salty crunch of Fried Okra Tacos puts Tex-Mex takeout to shame. A sprinkling of sugar in the cornmeal coating caramelizes as the okra cooks, creating a crisp, golden crust.
Recipe: Fried Okra Tacos
Grilled Corn in the Style of Oaxaca
Oaxaca is a region of Mexico where they have learned to take an already delicious summer vegetable and make it taste even better. Slather the cobs with a rich sour cream and mayonnaise mixture, season with spicy chili powder and salty Parmesan cheese, and then throw them on the grill. Finish off the corn with a squeeze of lime juice for a unique union of Mexican flavors.
Recipe: Cucumber-Ginger Limeade
Try this cooler with gin, vodka, rum, or tequila.
Recipe: Watermelon Cooler
Watermelons are a classic summer road stand fruit that sometimes goes to waste because they are so large. Make use of your leftover watermelon slices and cool down from the heat with this fresh, tangy summer sipper.
Maque Choux Soup
Recipe: Maque Choux Soup
Run a knife along just-cut cobs to catch sweet corn milk in a bowl. It'll add flavor and creamy texture.
Recipe: Macadamia-Mango Chicken
Once you try this grilled chicken recipe with chopped macadamia, Mustard Sauce and Mango Salsa, chicken will never be the same. Juicy mango chunks mixed with cilantro, lime juice, and red onions create a Latin-inspired topping that adds a variety of flavors to ordinary chicken breasts. You can add or substitute pineapple in the salsa if preferred.
Summer Farmers' Market Recipes
Our Farmers Market Cookbook is filled with more fresh produce recipes, divided into four chapters—Spring Recipes, Summer's Bounty, Autumn Harvest, and Winter Storehouse. The book also walks you through the farmers market experience and provides a Fresh Produce & Herb Primer with all the tips you need for selecting the best produce.