Summer ushers in plenty of delicious produce to savor, usually along with temperatures too high to cook in. Luckily, many of the season’s crops shine even when raw—or practically so. Two of our favorite hand-in-hand, no-heat-required techniques are marinating and macerating. Learn the basics of each, and try out two simple recipes along the way.
How to Marinate:
Marinating is soaking vegetables, meat, or fish in a typically savory sauce to enrich their flavors and tenderize them. This marinated medley is refreshing on its own, or mixed into a pasta salad with fresh mozzarella and crème fraîche.
1. Eyes on the size: Help firmer veggies absorb marinade by cutting them into small pieces. Softer ones more readily soak up liquid, so they need fewer cut surfaces.
- 1⁄4 lb wax beans, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
- 1⁄2 lb cherry tomatoes,
- 1 summer squash, small diced
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
2. Pick your acid: Vinegar is perfect for adding punchy flavor and tenderizing vegetables’ exteriors, softening them as they marinate.
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3. Bring it together: Combine all your ingredients with salt, pepper, and olive oil. In addition to building flavor, the salt draws out water, which turns into more marinade.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
4. Rest for the best: Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour so hardier vegetables can soften slightly. When time’s up, finish with fresh herbs and season again to taste.
- 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
How to Macerate:
Macerating is soaking fruits in a liquid to enrich their flavors and soften them, creating a saucy consistency. These macerated berries are ready to spoon over store-bought shortcakes, vanilla ice cream, or plain Greek yogurt.
1. Eyes on the size: Pick a blend of fruits similar in firmness. Prep them to about the same size, so they absorb liquid and soften at the same pace.
- 1⁄2 lb strawberries, hulled and medium diced
- 6 oz blueberries
- 6 oz blackberries
- 6 oz raspberries
2. Pick your acid: Super-sweet fruits do well with bold acids. Citrus juice adds tartness, plus another, complementary layer of fruitiness.
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3. Bring it together: Mix everything with sugar—which helps extract water from juicy fruits as they start to break down, forming a light sauce—and salt, to enhance the fruits’ sweetness.
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- A pinch of kosher salt
4. Rest for the best: Macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, occasionally checking for your desired texture (delicate fruits break down quickly). Finish with fresh herbs and citrus zest.
- 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
- 1 packed tsp lemon zest