Maximize Your Summer Harvest

July and August come due with exhilarating freshness. The harvest is hot and weedy, but that heat is the secret to summer cooking per chef-owner Lisa LaValle of Trellis, the Botanical Garden’s acclaimed in-house café. The chef-gardener is often blessed with an overabundance of zucchinis, eggplants, peppers and carrots, all of which grill to perfection.

LaValle’s prescription for culinary success on a warm summer night is straightforward enough. “Bring them into the kitchen, cut and toss on a baking sheet with good olive oil, grill and settle in for a summer evening with good cheese, fresh herbs and a fine wine.” LaValle’s go to cheese for summer grilling? “I want something hard and salty like manchego. Otherwise I’ll go completely opposite of that with something creamy and soft like burrata.”

Remember that pickling is another option, just in case firing up the grill or oven seems unbearable in Central Iowa’s late-summer temperatures. “What you don’t grill you can put away for a fresh crunch on a winter night,” says LaValle. “Take white vinegar, sugar, salt and imagine what you can put away: jicamas, radishes, cucumbers.”

If you’d prefer someone else do the cooking, see what LaValle is serving up this month at Trellis Café.