While you may retain happy childhood memories of munching on grilled or boiled corn-on-the-cob, did you know that this beloved veggie is actually delicious when eaten raw? Yes, despite the fact that corn is traditionally served cooked, and doused with butter, it is a unique treat when enjoyed fresh—with all the nutrients, enzymes and luscious flavor fully intact.
So, how can you best take advantage of sweet raw corn and other colorful veggies that take center stage in summer? Read on for some fresh inspiration:
Know your seasonal stars
Your local farmer’s market is an ideal place to find veggies that hit their peak of freshness and flavor in the summer months. Along with organic, non-GMO corn, health and fitness expert Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple suggests tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, arugula, zucchini and more. And don’t forget fresh basil, which is easy to grow in any space and adds tremendous flavor to many summer dishes. These items tend to be quite versatile, laying the foundation for numerous creative culinary possibilities.
Embrace entrée salads
When it’s too hot to cook, a colorful entrée salad is especially appealing. Raw corn is a satiating addition to many favorites, from Southwestern salads to Caesar. Another idea for a winning family meal is to fill a large bowl half-way with organic greens and mix in two cups of raw, organic corn kernels, diced tomato, avocado, cucumber and fresh basil or mint. Sprinkle in chopped almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds—or all-star hempseeds for delicate, nutty flavor and complete protein.
Toss with a healthy homemade dressing and you have a deliciously filling, edible masterpiece.
Try making chilled soups
While hot soups and stews are usually winter fare, chilled versions are perfect meal components in summer, adding an elegant note to lunch, brunch or dinner. These fresh, easy-to-digest soups are easy to prepare and are typically high in nutrients and water content.
This simple tomato & fresh mint gazpacho recipe is a cool version of a timeless favorite, and a superb way to showcase raw, juicy summer tomatoes. You might also like this vibrant, lightly cooked spring green soup, featuring fresh summer zucchini and basil.
When the temperatures rise, consider several light, plant-based dishes rather than heavy main courses. This could be a soup-and-salad combo, a fun tapas array or a refreshing meal built around a large crudité platter with raw carrots, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, olives, cherry tomatoes, jicama, raw beet chips and endive leaves paired with several delicious, protein-rich dips, such as this dazzling mango-red pepper hummus, creamy vegan spinach dip, turmeric hummus or a cheezy-dijon dip.
Are you familiar with zoodles? They’re made from raw zucchinis pressed through an inexpensive kitchen appliance called a spiralizer. Zoodles are a light, healthy alternative to cooked, refined white flour pasta.
You can also use a spiralizer to make noodles out of carrots, parsnips, beets, cucumbers and sweet potatoes, offering a nourishing canvas for tasty toppings. For an innovative summer entrée, toss zoodles (or other veggie noodles) with spinach-hempseed pesto or vegan coconut cream sauce.
With a little experimentation, you are sure to find new favorites that may become your go-to meals. While these recipes are terrific daily fare, they also offer a compelling, fresh twist for parties. Pair any of these dishes with summery spiced sangria and enjoy the best of summer’s bounty. Cheers!