By Chef George Duran

As much as I love the fall season (yeah, it’s my favorite season), I hate to see summer go. It’s that moment in 09_21_ImusaTomatoes_034August when you get this one odd cooler day to remind you that the Earth is still spinning around the sun (at least here in NYC) and the more colorful fruits and vegetables will begin to dwindle. What will I do without my bi-color corn? What will happen when I am in need of perfectly ripened tomatoes (I’m covered with the canned variety)? How will I grill summer squash with no summer squash?

Luckily, we’ve developed an amazing transportation system to import these goodies from all over the world that allows us to taste most produce all year long. But alas, it’s just not the same. When you frequent the farmer’s market like I do, you notice when produce is at its peak. Eating locally helps sustain the environment and it incentivizes smaller farmers to grow without pesticides and GMOs. As early humans, our bellies were always full in the warmer months, and hungry in the winter. It’s certainly not the direction I want to go, but it just makes sense. Imported pale tomatoes in the winter are flavorless compared to peak season bright heirlooms. So that’s where my summer gorging begins.

Sometimes taking simple ripe ingredients and incorporating them into a recipe can make a difference. Take my prosciutto and tomato basil quesadillas that I make with my IMUSA quesadilla maker. As I get my share of fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market, I incorporate them into this simple recipe. This could range from grilled zucchini, eggplant, garlic, herbs, fresh tomatoes, cooked potatoes, etc. Take a look at your farm stand next time and I guarantee you that every single item can be packed between two tortillas and shredded cheese!

As Summer dwindles, I do everything I can to eat what local farmers are growing. I rarely turn on my oven. I don’t even bake! The grill is on three times a day and my carnivorous habits are switched to a vegetarian/pescatarian diet as I get only a few months to savor the freshness of mother Earth.

Long live summer! (but I can’t wait for Fall!)