What’s Fresh in Early August: Tomatillos, Corn, and Cantaloupe
by Erin Harris
What better time to take advantage of summer’s natural treasures than during the hot, lazy days of August? This month, tomatillos, corn and cantaloupe are all in season. Whether you’re trying to eat healthfully or looking for a zesty new recipe, all three can provide what you need.
Known in Mexico as tomates verdes or fresadillas, tomatillos are characterized by their papery outer husk. They were cultivated by the Aztecs as early as 800 BCE, and their tart, lemony flavor makes them the perfect keynote of salsa verde. According to Food Network Canada, “tomatillos contain a pectin-like substance that thickens the sauce or salsa upon refrigeration.” The fruit measures between one to two inches in diameter and is best eaten when its skin is bright green.
Spice up your healthy diet with tomatillos, which are a great source of vitamins A, C, folic acid and potassium. Dr. Manny Alvarez includes them in his list of the Seven Latin Powerfoods on the Fox News Health Blog.
Tomatillos take the spotlight in this gazpacho recipe, which also includes cool English cucumbers and green bell peppers that balance out the heat from fiery jalapeño peppers. EatingWell recommends topping the chilled soup with creamy avocado; sweet, chopped shrimp and olives.
Did you know that popcorn is made from a specific variety of corn? Also known as Zea mays everta, its tiny kernels burst—or “pop”—when exposed to dry heat. Learn about other varieties and the history of the vegetable from the Tri County Farm site. More corn is produced than any other crop in America; not only is it eaten, but it also makes its way into “rubber, plastics, fuel, clothing … and literally thousands of other forms.”
With 19 percent of your daily folate requirement in a one-cup serving, corn is believed to enhance cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that the vegetable may even help manage stress, thanks to its high levels of pantothenic acid, which supports adrenal gland function. So, the next time you have a deadline approaching, grab an ear of corn and start munching. Find a complete nutritional profile of corn at The World’s Healthiest Foods, along with tips on how to select and store the vegetable.
The sweetness of corn picks up a smoky flavor when grilled; Leite’s Culinaria provides expert advice on how to prepare cobs in their husk. This recipe for Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Raspberries pairs the juicy kernels with fresh lump crabmeat, dill, scallions and tomatoes. Raspberries and a splash of raspberry vinegar bring the medley of summer flavors full circle.
Cantaloupe, with its rough, webbed surface, is the most common variety of muskmelon in America. Muskmelons, which also include honeydew and casaba, are native to Persia, although today, most of our cantaloupes come from Arizona, California and Texas. Belly Bytes advises choosing cantaloupes with “khaki colored skin” and recommends washing them before cutting, to prevent bacteria from transferring from rind to flesh. For the juiciest, ripest fruit, allow melons to sit at room temperature for one to two days before consuming.
Cantaloupe contains beta carotene, which helps protect eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. One quarter of the melon contains only 50 calories, but is brimming with 100 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin A. The Sundia Corporation adds that it is “an exceptionally good fruit for supporting energy production,” thanks to all the B complex vitamins and fiber in each juicy slice.
Prosciutto and melon, a delicate and simple antipasto, has been gracing tables in Italy for years. For a heartier, French twist on the classic, Visual Recipes proposes tucking sliced cantaloupe, Serrano ham and hunks of Brie into a warm crêpe. The soft cheese will melt into the folds while sweet fruit acts as the perfect complement to savory ham. Or try this easy summer treat: slice a cantaloupe in half, scrape out the seeds, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center.