California Summer Menu: The Vegetables and Fruits in Season Now

By Mackenzie Hutson July 17, 2019

Summertime in California is known for many things—such as backyard barbecues, farmers markets, coastal hikes, and camping and surfing trips—but food is what ties it all together and creates lasting memories. From juicy peaches and ripe tomatoes, to fragrant basil and creamy avocados, summer produce is arguably the best, making it easy (and delicious) to eat along with the season. 

Seasonal food not only tastes better, but is also better for our bodies: Since the produce travels shorter distances, the fruits and vegetables are only picked when ripe and retain their nutrients. So, head out to your local farmers market and load up on the fruits and vegetables that are in season, because healthy recipes highlighting California’s seasonal produce are on the menu all summer long. Here are some ideas to inspire you. 

Summer Drinks

Cool down in the summer heat by making refreshing drinks infused with watermelon, berries, and citrus.

Combine watermelon cubes and lemon juice to create the most refreshing melon lemonade. Then, place sprigs of mint and lavender to elevate the glasses to photo-worthy status. 

Or, mix fresh-squeezed orange juice with puréed apricots for a bright summer flavor. Slices of citrus adorn the rim, evoking smiles wherever they end up.

Summer Appetizers

Sweet corn on the cob is a classic summer BBQ dish that can be enhanced with a variety of toppings. 

A bed of fresh spinach and arugula is tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, sprinkled with elegant watercress, and garnished with juicy slices of Asian pear. Sliced grapes, ground cherries, and snap peas lie in separate bowls, waiting to be chosen as worthy companions. 

Across the table lies the intriguing cucumber soup that is all too decadent. The dish begins with roasted tomatoes, onions, carrots, and bell peppers—which are added to boiling water spiced with parsley and garlic, forming the vegetable broth base. Fresh lemon juice, cucumbers, and shallots join the seasonal vegetable party to simmer on the stovetop. Once the flavors have mingled together, the medley greets creamy avocados in the blender, and the new concoction is placed in the refrigerator. Once chilled, the soup is divided into bowls and adorned with a confetti of diced avocado and chopped parsley. 

Nearby, slices of grapefruit and strawberries are interspersed with fava beans—unlikely companions that are brought together by mint, feta cheese, and an aged balsamic reduction. 

Finishing the lineup is the classic corn on the cob, cut into thirds and placed on skewers for easy eating. Chili powder, cilantro, and cotija cheese are laid out, too, waiting to be sprinkled on top. 

Summer Dinners

Fire up the grill to serve up an array of mouthwatering meats and seasonal veggies for a crowd. 

Mushrooms are grilled on the open fire, seasoned with chile peppers, and placed inside fresh corn tortillas. These incredible creations are topped with slices of avocado and a slaw of cilantro, cabbage, and citrus dressing—culminating in a culinary creation of savory seasonal vegetables that will make you want to cook outside year-round.

The other half of the grill is occupied by a surprising favorite: pizza. Fluffy dough is drizzled with olive oil and garlic before a homemade tomato sauce coats the surface. This saucy pillow is topped with fresh fennel, spicy shallots, and soothing endive, resulting in a unique flavor your guests won’t believe you created yourself. 

Meanwhile, mangos are diced with cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of lemon juice to create the ultimate summertime salsa. Triangles of corn tortilla chips come together to form the well-deserved crown above the bowl of salsa, highlighting the magic of seasonal fruits. 

Summer Desserts

For a satisfying summer dessert, throw peaches on the grill and adorn them with fresh herbs, a drizzle of balsamic, and Parmesan cheese.

Skewers of blueberries, strawberries, and mozzarella form a patriotic celebration on the dessert table, while a bowl holding stone fruits beckons to diners wanting a refreshing treat. 

Down the line, frozen cantaloupe and watermelon spheres brighten up glasses of sparkling water, adding a dash of sweetness. 

Halved peaches can also be smelled as they soften on the grill. After only a few minutes, the succulent seasonal fruit is topped with fresh mint, aromatic basil, and balsamic vinegar for a dessert that tickles every taste bud.  

Summer Favorites: Vegetables and Fruits
in Season

Head to a local farmers market to marvel at California's bounty while loading up on seasonal produce.
  • Apricots (Season: May–July)
  • Arugula (Season: February–November)
  • Avocados (Season: Year-round)
  • Basil (Season: May–December)
  • Blackberries (Season: May–September)
  • Blueberries (Season: May–July)
  • Boysenberries (Season: May–August)
  • Brambles (Season: June–August)
  • Cherries (Season: April–July)

  • Corn (Season: May–November)

  • Endive (Season: Year-round)

  • Fava Beans (Season: April–August)

  • Fennel (Season: Year-round)

  • Figs (Season: June–November) 

  • Grapes (Season: May–December)

  • Mango (Season: June–August)

  • Mushrooms (Season: Year-round)

  • Nectarines (Season: May–October)

  • Peaches (Season: May–October)

  • Plums and Pluots (Season: May–November)

  • Shallots (Season: May–October)

  • Strawberries (Season: February–October)

  • Tomatoes (Season: May–December)

  • Watermelon (Season: July–November)