Many of the summer's most prolific fruits, typically eaten out of hand or used to flavor and color recipes, also are superb sources of vitamins. This nutritional benefit makes them a wise choice to boost vitamin and mineral intake without having to resort to commercial vitamin supplements.
Apricots, peaches, cantaloupes and nectarines are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber, while strawberries and oranges supply substantial amounts of Vitamin C. Honeydew and watermelon are noted primarily for their potassium content, which is modest: about 559 milligrams per 4x8-inch wedge of watermelon and 825 milligrams for a 1/10 slice of a five-pound honeydew.
On their own, cherries and plums have a marginal value too--10 cherries or one plum provides only a fraction of the RDA for any vitamin or mineral. But combine them with other summer fruits or wholesome ingredients, such as Vitamin C-rich red peppers or high-iron spinach, and they make delicious summer salads.
Here are some nutritional values from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Home and Garden Bulletin No. 72, "Nutritive Value of Foods," which may be helpful for those seeking to improve their vitamin intake without supplementation.
--One half cantaloupe provides about 1,000 international units (IU) more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin A and satisfies the RDA for ascorbic acid at the same time.
--One whole medium nectarine supplies about one-quarter of the day's requirement for Vitamin A.
--The entire day's need for Vitamin C can be met with just one cup of whole strawberries or one whole orange.
--Three raw apricots provide more than half the RDA for Vitamin A.
PLUM PASTA SALAD
8 ounces bow tie, wagon wheel or small shell pasta
6 medium plums, sliced
1 small red pepper, cut into slivers
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Drop pasta into large pot of water and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until cooked as desired. Drain pasta. Cool. Combine pasta with plums, red pepper, walnuts and yogurt in large bowl. Add Basil Dressing and toss. Chill before serving. Makes 6 servings.
3/4 cup oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and salt in jar with tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine.
1 cantaloupe, peeled
2 cups cherries, pitted
1 small honeydew melon, cut into small chunks
2 peaches, peeled and sliced
Celery Seed Dressing
Slice cantaloupe crosswise into 6 rings. Remove seeds. Place on lettuce-lined salad plates. Arrange cherries, honeydew, peaches and grapes in cantaloupe rings. Serve with Celery Seed Dressing. Makes 6 servings.
Celery Seed Dressing
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon celery seeds
Combine sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, mustard and salt in small bowl of electric mixer. Slowly beat in oil. Add remaining vinegar and continue beating until thick. Stir in celery seeds.
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces bow tie pasta or other small macaroni-type pasta, cooked
9 medium plums, quartered vertically
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
4 ounces well-chilled feta cheese, crumbled
Combine vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and peppers. Beat in oil. Toss with hot, cooked pasta. Cool to room temperature. Slice plum quarters 1/4-inch thick and fold into mixture along with green onions, almonds and cheese. Makes 10 servings.
WARM APRICOT-PORK SALAD
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 pound boneless pork chops
4 cups torn assorted lettuce
3/4 pound apricots
Place walnuts on baking sheet and toast in oven at 375 degrees until golden. Set aside.
Combine vinegar, sugar, tarragon, marjoram and thyme. Gradually beat in oil to emulsify. Set aside half of mixture. Pour remaining dressing over pork chops. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.
Broil or grill chops about 6 minutes per side, or until flesh turns white. Cut chops into 1/4-inch julienne pieces. Place lettuce in salad bowl. Cut apricots into sixths. Add to salad bowl along with walnuts and pork. Toss with dressing. Makes 2 to 4 servings.
SPINACH SALAD WITH FRUIT AND BEEF
1 pound beef top round steak
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons oil
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
2 medium oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups sliced strawberries
Trim excess fat from steak. Broil 3 inches from heat, 6 to 7 minutes per side for rare or until desired doneness. Slice across grain into thick slices. Place in baking dish.
Combine vinegar, Worcestershire, onion, poppy seeds, sugar, garlic, chili powder and white pepper in blender container. Cover and mix until blended. With machine running, gradually add oil, blending until smooth. Pour over steak slices and cover. Refrigerate at least three hours, no longer than 24 hours.
Place spinach on serving plates. Arrange beef slices, orange and strawberry slices on spinach. Drizzle with remaining marinade. Makes 4 servings.
2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup seedless raisins
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
2 tablespoons chopped chutney
1 tablespoon pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
Melt 1 tablespoon margarine and desired amount curry powder in skillet. Add rice and cook, stirring, over medium heat two minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, melt remaining margarine in skillet. Add raisins, onions, celery, pimento, chutney and nuts and cook until vegetables are tender. Add vinegar and brown sugar.
Halve 1 nectarine. Dice one half. Add to chutney mixture, then cut remaining nectarine half into slices. Turn rice into shallow serving bowl. Slice remaining nectarines and use to surround bowl. Top rice with chutney. Makes 4 to 5 servings.