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Summer Vegetable Guide

How to choose the best vegetables for the summer season.

Tomatoes

Known as a "love-apple" in its early history, the summer tomato is worthy of the name. Bursting with nutrients, loaded with flavor—what’s not to love?

What You Get: A medium-size fresh tomato is an excellent source of vitamins A and C—and if you eat them in season, you’ll get twice as much vitamin C as at other times of the year. Tomatoes also contain the carotenoid lycopene (this is what makes tomatoes red), which helps prevent some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.

Shopping Tips: Bite-size cherry and grape tomatoes are delicious in salads or for snacking.

Roma, or plum, tomatoes have fewer seeds than other varieties and are good for making sauces and other cooked dishes.

Plain "supermarket reds" are versatile for cooking and for using raw.

Heirloom tomatoes—grown from older seed varieties—are cultivated for their flavor and texture. Unlike mass-market varieties—bred for consistent looks and durability—heirlooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Buy tomatoes as close to home as possible.

Look for those that are plump and shiny and give slightly when pressed; smell the stem end for that distinctive, sweetly acidic aroma.

Storage Tip: Refrigeration destroys the flavor of tomatoes; free them from any packaging and store at a cool room temperature, away from sunlight.

Zucchini

Whether you’re growing your own or buying them at the store, zucchini are plentiful in the summer. Small-to-medium zucchini are most tender—use those for sautéing, grilling or eating raw. The big ones are starchier—save those to make stuffed zucchini.

What You Get: Zucchini has just 29 calories per 1 cup. It offers lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote good vision. Additional nutrients: potassium, magnesium, manganese, folate, fiber, vitamins C and A.

Shopping Tips: Look for shiny, dark green zucchini (the freshest ones will have slightly prickly skin) with moist stem ends at least 1 inch in length. The zucchini should be firm to the touch and heavy in your hand.

Avoid zucchini with breaks, gashes or soft spots.

Storage Tips: Store zucchini in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.

If there’s just too much zucchini for you to use, don’t let it go to waste—you can freeze it for several months. Slice, grate or chop the zucchini, blanch for 2 minutes in boiling water, then chill; pack in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container, leaving an inch of space at the top, and freeze.

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