It may be chilly in the rest of the country, but in subtropical sunny Florida, an array of delicious vegetables are being picked at their peak of flavor.
Sweet, crisp, and bright, bell peppers are wonderfully versatile. And because they're available in a variety of colors, they can add visual appeal to your cooking, as well as great flavor.
Try bell peppers sautéed, steamed, or baked. They're also good in salads, soups, and stir-fries. Simply wash your peppers right before using and remove the stem, seeds, and interior membranes.
Though we tend to call them vegetables, green beans are actually the unripe fruits of a bean plant. Their fresh, sweet flavor makes them a popular choice. And the fact that they're low in calories and full of nutrients makes them even more appealing.
Wash your green beans in cold water and trim the tips. They can be steamed or stir-fried; enjoyed alone or incorporated into soups or salads. Whatever preparation method you choose, remember to cook them just until tender using the smallest possible amount of water. Green beans should remain bright green.
Yellow and Zucchini Squash
With their smooth and creamy texture, buttery flavors, and delicately nutty undertones, these varieties of "summer squash" are uniquely delicious. They're also nutritional powerhouses—and low in calories and fat.
Summer squash is usually served cooked. It's often steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. Many people find it's best when cooked quickly—just two to four minutes—so it retains its firmness and flavor. Try tossing pieces into stir-fry or on homemade pizza. It can be grilled in kabobs or added to soup or ratatouille. It makes tasty quick breads too.
Keep wrapped in paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, slice in 1⁄2-inch pieces and steam for four minutes. Drain, cool, and seal in airtight freezer bags. Or shred raw and freeze for baking later. Squash will keep up to 10 months in the freezer.
Fragrant, juicy, and full of robust flavor, our Florida tomatoes have been ripened naturally on the vine in the sunshine. They're high in vitamin C and are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin A. They're fat-free and low in sodium.
To peel: Drop into boiling water for one to two minutes. Remove, dunk briefly in a bowl of ice water, and cut out a small cone around the stem end to slip off the skin.
Always keep tomatoes at room temperature—and never below 55°F. Tomatoes produce a flavor enzyme as they ripen, and at temperatures below 55°F the enzyme will permanently stop producing any more flavor. Also, any flavor that has already developed degrades at low temperatures. Cold temperatures can also make the water inside a tomato expand, causing the tomato's cells to burst, resulting in a mealy texture.