What would summer be without the sweet crunch of lettuces and salad greens? An essential addition to tacos and sandwiches and the foundation of salads from Caesar to Cobb, the innumerable varieties of lettuce lend crispness to all kinds of summer dishes. They vary widely in flavor and texture: Iceberg lettuce, for example, has a sweet, watery crunch that’s at home in a wedge salad with blue cheese; crisp romaine is ideal for adding to sandwiches; watercress has a bright, peppery flavor; and mizuna, a Japanese member of the mustard family, has a gentle spicy zing.
Available in the U.S. from late May to early October, peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines are among the most delectable of summer’s stone fruits, so-called because they contain a stone, or pit, at the center that encases the seed. We love to eat them out of hand, of course, but they’re also delightful in an abundance of sweet and savory recipes: think green bean and peach salad, nectarine and plum chicken tagine, stone fruit rosé sangria, and irresistible pies and cobblers.
While many are available year-round from the grocery store, summer brings abundant fresh herbs that thrive in hot weather, such as basil, rosemary, and thyme, to the farmers’ market. You can use fresh herbs in innumerable ways for every type of dish: Add them to marinades, throw them into salads, purée them into pesto and toss with pasta or vegetables, and use them to infuse oils or even flavor ice creams.