We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: eating seasonal, local fare provides the best possible eating. Tasting produce when it is at its peak of ripeness, when it hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles to your table, is an experience worth savoring.

Arizona has a long grower season, thanks to that blazing weather we love to hate and hate to love. This means we can get fresher food in season for much longer than most of the rest of the country. There are a lot of great things in season in the state right now, which makes summer the best time to dine local.
 
Melons
It’s the end of melon season, but they are still going strong. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew—eat them while you still can. The best, sweetest melons are available now, and soon they will be nothing but a delicious memory. Stop in to Noble Hops to enjoy the last melon of the year with our prosciutto and melon salad. This dish pairs prosciutto and cantaloupe with ricotta cheese, lime and mint, spinach, and spiced almonds.

Squash and Zucchini
Anyone who has ever grown squash knows that zucchini and the other summer squashes are out of control right now. To help quell the onslaught of oversized gourds, many people pick the zucchini blossoms, which can be eaten breaded and fried or in a salad.

Chiles and Peppers
From sweet peppers and bell peppers to jalapenos and habaneros, chiles and peppers are abundant at this time of year. Give your mouth something to burn about by trying the local varieties in salsa form, then smooth over the pain with a hot jelly. Add them fresh, grilled, or sautéed to just about anything.
Or you could just come in to Noble Hops for our pork belly bahn mi. This sandwich pairs braised pork belly with pickled carrots, cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro, and smoked chili aioli.

Tomatoes
Bushes across the state are brimming with these beacons of bright, acidic flavor. From the tiniest cherries and grapes to the biggest heirlooms and beefsteaks, this is the time of year to indulge in tomatoes.
Pizzas, pastas, salads, and salsas, you name it—they can go in just about anything.

Potatoes
Nothing goes better with grilled burgers or steaks than roasted or mashed potatoes, French fries, or potato salad. Quintessential summer meals are nothing without the humble potato, so it’s a good thing spuds are in season right now!

Beans
Another must-have for your summer picnics, patio parties, and side dishes, beans are totally in at the moment. Legumes of many varieties are available, from black-eyed peas to green beans, pinto beans to snap peas, and so on. Dress up your salads, enchiladas, dips, and dinner plates with a healthy serving of these nutrient-rich little guys.

Corn
What could be sweeter than corn season? Cue up that corn on the cob, char-roasted on the grill, or sides of perfectly seasoned corn kernels in butter or vinaigrette. Homemade cornbread would also totally benefit from fresh corn at its juiciest.

Or you could enjoy our Noble Hops sablefish soycatash—pan-seared, miso-marinated sablefish served over a succotash of roasted corn, soybeans, red peppers, red onion, fried rice noodles, and smoked chili aioli. Not only is it delicious, but it features three ingredients that are locally available this summer.

Apples
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, which is why you should eat plenty of apples this August and September. In season and available in stores or at farms like everybody’s favorite Apple Annie’s down in Willcox, apples abound in late summer. Let them turn up on your plate in pies, pastries, sauces, jellies, and juices. Or grill them and let the flavors of sweet and savory play on your tongue all throughout dinner.

Pumpkins
Although most of us don’t start thinking about pumpkins until late September at the earliest, August marks the very beginning of pumpkin season. The orange gourds don’t have to be relegated to fall feasts or fall and winter holidays. As soon as you can get them, why not break out the pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soup, or even sweet, sweet pumpkin pie!

Sure, you can get many of these fruits and vegetables throughout the year. But they are at their best right now, because they are being grown and harvested in our own neck of the woods. While it is hard to know what is in season based on a trip to the grocery store, it’s better to pay attention to when things actually come into season so that we can be excited about them and enjoy them more.

Since everything is available all the time—often from South America, California, and sometimes even Canada—we get used to thinking that a tomato is a tomato is a tomato all year round and eating them whenever we want or need them. If we ate tomatoes the same way we eat pumpkins—just during one time of the year—imagine how much more exciting they would be when they begin to ripen each July!

Noble Hops is part of the JAM Culinary Concepts family…

and a proud and active member of the larger Tucson, Arizona community.