Don’t let the heat dissuade you from a little light gardening this summer; there are certain plants, after all, that flourish in the melting glare of the sun—like the ones below, which will grow like weeds, keeping you in stock week after blistering week. All are best enjoyed fresh; no cooking required.
Gardening gurus say: The more you prune this bushy beast, the bigger it will grow.
Easy Caprese Salad
☀ 1 ½ lbs. ripe tomatoes, sliced
☀ 10 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
☀ 10 fresh basil leaves
☀ Extra-virgin olive oil
☀ Salt and pepper
Arrange tomatoes in a layer on a platter. Top with torn pieces of mozzarella (we recommend Paula Lambert's hoja santa-wrapped mozzarella at the Houston Dairymaids). Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Finish with basil leaves.
Gardening gurus say: Keep these water hogs well-saturated, and the cukes will keep coming.
Cool as a Cucumber Margaritas
☀ 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
☀ 1 ½ oz. blanco tequila
☀ 1 ½ oz. fresh lime juice
☀ 1 T. agave syrup
Juice cucumbers in a juicer or blender (if using blender, strain pulp out of juice before using). Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker; mix lightly. (For the tequila, try Tapatio Blanco 110, $48.99 at Spec's.) Pour over ice into highball glasses; garnish with lime or cucumber wedge.
Gardening gurus say: Water these peppers every other day, but keep them in full sunlight.
☀ 2 c. ripe mangos, diced
☀ 1 red bell pepper, chopped
☀ ½ c. red onion, diced
☀ ¼ c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
☀ 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
☀ ¼ c. fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Serve with tortilla chips or on tacos.