SUMMER'S upon us and the thermometer is climbing. Air conditioners are getting their annual workout as people look for ways to beat the heat.

But even as the warmer weather brings the temperature up in the kitchen I still really do enjoy Northwestern Ontario summers.

The trees and plants that produce the great fresh fruit we enjoy all summer are very rapidly beginning to bear the culinary treasures the season has to offer.

Your local grocers, favourite farmer’s markets, fresh fruit stands and the pick-your-own farms are in full fruit swing. But no matter how you get your fruit fix, you have to agree that things are definitely better ripe, fresh and in season.

For me the raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches, cherries and all of the other summer delicacies are hard to pass up. It is a veritable cornucopia and each possibility and combination is an excellent way to eat fresh while getting a healthy little low guilt sugar buzz in the hot summer months.

Of course eating fresh and ripe whole fruit is an excellent snack but working fruit into meal time is also an ideal way to enjoy some of your favourites. These amazing fruit infused dishes just ooze tastitude.

You can really notice the difference between the peak season bounty available now and the canned or frozen stuff that just kind of got us through the long winter.

Beyond baking and preserving, fruit can also play a delicious role in seasonal sauces, salsas, side dishes and salads and exemplify the big beautiful fresh flavours of the season.

So with our short summer quickly approaching perhaps it’s time to take stock and get ready to start loading up on some great Ontario fruit that can help you bring your a game to the table.

Whether you are just picking them up for snacks or for building that perfect summer dish in the kitchen there are so many great ways to add to your summer eating.

Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached at cookhouse_25@yahoo.ca or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.


Chef House’s Raspberry and Feta Spinach Salad with Walnuts

Ingredients:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/3 cup fresh raspberries

2 tbsp. raspberry juice concentrate

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. honey

1 bag of fresh baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. chives, roughly chopped

1 lemon, zest only

1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries

1/2 cup feta, drained, crumbled

1/2 cup roasted walnuts

Directions:

In a blender or food processor combine the oil, 1/3 cup of raspberries, concentrate, vinegar, mustard and honey. Blend until smooth.

In a serving bowl add the spinach leaves, chive, lemon zest, raspberries, feta and walnuts.

Toss lightly with the dressing or serve the dressing on the side as desire.

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