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Summer is my favorite time of year for seasonal produce. Tomatoes, basil, cherries, zucchini, plums…the list goes on and on. Despite the pandemic, local chefs are cooking up some extraordinary summer dishes showcasing the the season’s best ingredients. Sample them when patio dining or order for delivery.

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Equinox Restaurant’s Tomato Focaccia

Freshly baked and served warm, this focaccia is the only bread you are going to want to eat this summer. Topped with wheels of tomatoes that are baked into the bread, dollops of fresh basil pesto, and loads of crunchy pine nuts, it is savory and delicious. The bread is crisp at the edges, and the pine nuts add just the right amount of additional crunch. Get multiple orders for your table; these hunks of bread go fast.

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Lulu’s Winegarden’s White Queso

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a luscious, creamy queso dip. The one at Lulu’s comes adorned with cilantro and green chilis and served with crispy tostadas for dipping. The queso is addictively good; super velvety and salty and cheesy. The green chilis add a hint of heat, and the cilantro and pico bring color and freshness. Enjoy it with a glass of one of Lulu’s summer white wines!

Rasika West End’s Fig Paneer Kofta

Figs have a short season, but when they are good they are really good. Most of us are used to having them on their own or in a salad, but at Rasika West End they have come up with a new preparation which may be my favorite use of figs yet. Kofta are Indian dumplings which can come infused with a variety of ingredients; this summer, chef Vikram Sunderam is serving ones made with figs and paneer, and they are downright delectable. There’s a hint of sweetness and plenty of heartiness; served in a sauce flavored with green cardamom, black pepper and cashews, this dish is a whirlwind of flavor and texture.

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Centrolina’s Fried Green Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. Like really, really love tomatoes. In any form. Tomato sauce, tomato soup, fresh, fried, baked and roasted. So it is no wonder I love Centrolina, where Chef Amy Brandwein makes good use of tomatoes all summer long. Her arrabbiata sauce is spicy and chunky, her fresh tomato Panzanella screams summery goodness, and her fried green tomatoes are the epitome of crunchy and piquant. Piled high, the fried green tomatoes arrive on a puddle of creamy buttermilk sauce and adorned with crescents of sweet cherry tomatoes and shards of basil. Finger licking good is the only way to describe them.

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Punjab Grill’s Burrata Badal Jam

This dish features a shiny globe of burrata, seated on roasted eggplant and encircled by heaps of colorful, summery cherry tomatoes. Need I say more? Burrata lovers should come running. This dish marries flavors from India and Italy, with the eggplant cooked in Indian spices and the burrata being one of Italy’s most coveted cheeses. Enjoy it with one of Punjab Grill’s housemade breads.

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