Did you know that one of the best ways to maximize the flavors of your culinary creations is to cook with seasonal vegetables? Among the jewels in the crown that is the summer harvest, you’ll find eggplant, asparagus, and zucchini. Flavorful and versatile, these popular vegetables elevate the taste of summer cooking. But how can you incorporate them into your meals? Let’s find out more!

Are Eggplants fruits or vegetables?

Most people assume eggplants are vegetables because they are used primarily in savory, cooked recipes rather than sweet desserts. However, from a botanical point of view, eggplants are fruits, as they bear seeds and grow from flowering plants. The same is true for tomatoes and zucchinis. That being said, botanists will also point out that ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term. It is, in fact, a culinary term and refers to how an ingredient is used in cooking.

Why cook with seasonal vegetables?

There are a number of reasons why you should cook with seasonal vegetables:

  1. Nutrients. Vegetables harvested in season often contain more nutrients than those produced off season. This is because they have been allowed to ripen and mature naturally.
  2. Environment. Consuming in season veggies is also good for the environment, as they can be sourced in your locality, reducing transportation costs.
  3. Cost. In season vegetables rarely need to be frozen or stored for long periods before making it to our dinner tables. Nor do they need to be transported from afar, as they are grown locally. All of this makes seasonal vegetables a more cost-efficient option for consumers.

Delicious Recipe with Eggplant

Wondering how you can create a meal with eggplant as the primary ingredient? It’s easy if you have eggplant! Due to their size and girth, eggplants are perfect for stuffed vegetable recipes, as this Eggplant Stuffed with Rice and Tomatoes recipe demonstrates. Filled with fragrant and fluffy Mahatma® Basmati Rice and a range of spices, the flavor of the eggplant comes to the fore during the baking process, making it the perfect dish to kickstart a new season of cooking.

Eggplant Stuffed with Rice and Tomatoes

Creative Zucchini Dishes

Soft, sweet, and with a hint of herb in its flavor, the humble zucchini is a versatile and mild-flavored ingredient that works wonders in summer recipes. If you’re looking to bring it to the fore of your cooking, why not try your hand at these Zucchini Boats? Made with Mahatma® Jasmine Brown Rice, savory Italian sausages, and a rich blend of herbs and spices, it will change the way you think about zucchini forever. 

Recipe with Raw Zucchini

You may be asking yourself the question: Can I eat zucchini raw? The answer is, yes, of course! In fact, zucchini tastes just as good raw as it does cooked. Uncooked zucchini is soft and spongy in texture, while in flavor it resembles other popular salad ingredients like cucumber or radish. If you’re craving a refreshing and herbaceous rice dish that’s both quick and easy-to-make, we’ve got just the dish for you! This Zucchini Rice recipe is infused with shredded zucchini throughout, not to mention fresh cilantro and basil, making it the perfect opportunity to try out uncooked zucchini in a recipe.

Recipe Featuring Eggplant and Zucchini

Now that you’ve got some ideas for eggplant and zucchini recipes, how about trying out one that combines both? This One Pot Ratatouille does just that. Veggie-loaded and easy-to-make, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular vegetable dishes in French cuisine.

Amazing Asparagus Recipe

Asparagus is famous for its crunchy texture and unique flavor. It comes into season in spring and can still be eaten fresh well into summer. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate this special ingredient into your cooking, asparagus works wonderfully in recipes with roasted vegetables, as this Green Rice with Roasted Veggies demonstrates. 

Green Rice with Roasted Vegetables

Guide to Seasonal Summer Vegetables

Every summer a whole host of delicious vegetables come into season. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best veggie produce to cook with in summer:

  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Cucumber
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Baby potatoes

Summer is also a great season for salads. With these delicious ingredients in mind, check out our guide to Refreshing Summer Salads.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Seasonal Summer Vegetables

  • Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Avoid ones with wrinkled or soft skin. When storing eggplants, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. 
  • Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator with the ends trimmed and placed upright in a glass of water. Use them within a few days for the best flavor and freshness. Look for asparagus that are bright green and firm with tightly closed tips. Avoid any that appear wilted or have a strong odor.
  • Select zucchinis that are small to medium in size, as they tend to be more tender and flavorful. Avoid oversized zucchinis, as they can be seedy and less tasty. Zucchinis can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a week. Avoid washing them until ready to use to prevent premature spoilage.

Celebrate Summer with Good Food

Summer is a special time of year. That’s why it’s important to celebrate it in your cooking, and there’s simply no better way to do that than to cook with in season ingredients. Cooking with vegetables when they are at their most flavorful is not only great for enhancing the taste of your meals, it’s also good for the environment and the local economy. Seasonal cooking has been an integral part of our culinary culture for centuries. At Mahatma® Rice we believe this is a tradition worth honoring. To find out more expert tips and exciting new recipes, visit our blog!

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