5 tips to celebrate the bounty of the harvest season

(BPT) - There’s nothing quite like enjoying fresh produce throughout late summer and fall. If you enjoy cooking — or eating! — you can celebrate the most delicious seasonal foods by focusing on where they come from, and what flavors taste best together.

Here are some ideas to make the most of the wide array of seasonal produce, wherever you live.

1. Visit your local farmers markets

Nothing tastes better than food that’s just been picked, so access the freshest food you can find. When you visit a farmers market, talk to the farmers to find out what they’re most excited about, and which crops are doing the best right now. Some farmers may also have other foods like fresh eggs, cheese and meats for sale.

2. Grow — or pick — your own food

It’s not too late to grow some of your own produce or herbs. Whether you plant outdoors or indoors, there are kits available to get you started with a small pot first, if you’ve never had a green thumb. It can be very satisfying to cook with your own home-grown herbs, fruits or veggies.

If you can’t grow your own, how about picking your own? Many areas feature farms or orchards where you can go pick berries and other fruits — so you know exactly where your food comes from.

3. Discover new ingredients

Whether you’re at a farmers market or the grocery store, look for at least a few ingredients you’re unfamiliar with. It can be a wonderful adventure to taste new foods and learn how to cook with them. You can broaden your palate as well as your horizons by exploring the building blocks of cuisines from around the world.

4. Test new recipes

To make the most of the season, search for recipes featuring your farm-fresh ingredients. From salads and soups to cooked veggies that serve as sides — or even main dishes for a plant-based menu — it’s never been easier to find new ways to use ingredients. Search with a phrase like “recipes using x, y and z” and you’ll discover plenty of ideas for cooking with your ingredients.

5. Pair your foods with flavorful wines

Meals taste even better when you serve wines that bring out the best in your food. You can try a variety of wines from Flat Top Hills, which are designed to elevate everyday occasions. These fruit-forward wines are food-friendly and easy to match with seasonal ingredients. For example:

  • Flat Top Hills Cabernet Sauvignon has deep blue and black fruit notes, with cocoa powder and vanilla notes, plus warm spice components, like nutmeg and cassis. This wine will provide the perfect complement to your farm-fresh corn grilled on the barbecue along with juicy steaks, chops or zesty blue cheese burgers.

  • If you're creating mild, creamy dishes like potato salad, pasta-and-fresh-veggie salad or simply seasoned chicken or fish, a medium-bodied wine like Flat Top Hills Chardonnay will provide just the right combination of fruitiness and balanced acidity to bring out the best in your meal.

  • Pair Flat Top Hills Rosé with your charcuterie board featuring farm-fresh fruits and cheeses, or to accompany rich, cheesy main courses. It has a light, floral touch that can be enjoyed with a wide range of dishes.

  • If you’re highlighting just-picked green vegetables, along with delicate fish or cheese, Flat Top Hills Sauvignon Blanc will really enhance your meal. This light and crisp, balanced wine with a touch of lemon will help your fresh herbs, vinaigrettes and tangy or spicy recipes sing.

  • Grilling up spicy barbecue pork ribs or Korean barbecue — or even flavor-rich portabella mushroom burgers? You’ll want a full-bodied wine with generous dark fruit and bright raspberry notes that can stand up to these bold flavors, like Flat Top Hills Red Blend.

You can find all of these wines and more to help bring this season's ingredients to the next level at FlatTopWines.com.