The fruit and vegetable bounty of summer is especially colorful, sometimes surprisingly so. Whole watermelon radishes, for example, resemble smooth white or light green turnips. Trim and slice them, however, and you’ll find a cheerful bright pink starburst interior.
Related to the daikon radish, watermelon radishes are mildly peppery, delicious raw, and make an excellent pickle. I paired them with sliced red heart plums and avocado in a green salad, and tossed it all lightly with pomegranate vinaigrette. It’s a hit at the table.
Watermelon radishes. Photo by Felicia Orth
Shishito peppers are quite mild, and you will find them at the Farmer’s Market in small baskets next to the very similar Padron peppers. Regardless of which you choose, they make an easily prepared, healthy appetizer, and provide a pop of color.
Toss two pints of peppers with a tablespoon of peanut oil or sesame oil (not olive oil) in a pan, and put the pan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. The peppers will shrink and scorch a bit in small places. Toss with a few pinches of sea salt and serve.
To eat, pick up a pepper by the stem and eat it all except for the stem. Have a small bowl for discarded stems next to your serving dish if setting it out on an appetizer table.
Shishito peppers in pan with sesame oil. Photo by Felicia Orth
Fresh figs are a wonder, and can provide a sweet counterpoint to more savory parts of a meal. I typically set them out sometimes as an appetizer with goat cheese, or serve them for dessert with a balsamic glaze. Slice them in half, and the ruby red interior brightens the deep purple skin.
My favorite goat cheese (“Purple Haze” with lavender and fennel pollen, from Smith’s) paired so nicely with the figs that I was not tempted to add anything else for flavor. I set fig crisps next to the plate, and counted my blessings. The abundance of fresh, colorful produce available in Los Alamos that is nutritious and easy to prepare is astonishing.