Chefs, LifeKatie O'Connor

3 Culinary Trends to Try Before the End of Summer

Chefs, LifeKatie O'Connor
3 Culinary Trends to Try Before the End of Summer

August has arrived and with it often comes the last few moments of fresh summertime eats.

But we're done with you just yet, summer 2018! There's still plenty of time to talk about what's hot and sizzling in the culinary world this season, and here to help us is PA's very own culinary expert, Chef Steph!

From ancient grains to the poke phenomenon, here are three easy culinary trends you NEED to implement into your menu before we say "so long, sweet summer!" 

Warm Farro and Mushroom Salad 

Step aside quinoa, there's a new ancient grain in town. Versatile farro is an ancient whole grain with a nutty flavor and chewy texture that can be used as rice, tossed in salads (as shown here), or even made in soup! 


  • 1 ½ cups farro
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs wild mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed, and sliced
  • 3 tbs salted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbs grainy mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 wedge of good parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Cherry tomatoes for garnish


  1. Bring the farro to a boil in 3 cups of water. Reduce to a very low simmer for 25 minutes, or until the farro has absorbed all the water.
  2. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large pan, and saute the mushrooms until they begin to brown. Add the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the sliced shallots. Sautee everything until the shallots are caramelized.
  3. Add the mustard and red wine vinegar to the pan, scraping up any food with a spatula. Add the farro to the pan, and mix everything together. Add the zest and juice from the lemon, and check for seasoning.
  4. Pour the farro onto a platter, and use a vegetable peeler to make curls of parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley and halved cherry tomatoes.

3 Poke.jpg

Seared Watermelon Poke

Holy poke! This produce-friendly version uses one of summer's sweetest darlings to bring a new and exciting angle to the poke craze. Not to mention the watermelon looks strikingly similar to tuna. Who else did a double take?! 


  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini or almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 2 scallions, white and pale-green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • Black sesame seeds


  1. Place watermelon in a large resealable plastic bag. Mix rice vinegar, oil, soy sauce, lime juice, tahini, honey, and salt in a bowl, and pour over watermelon. Seal bag, and chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium with canola oil. Remove watermelon from marinade. Cook watermelon, tossing often, until lightly caramelized and dried out, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Chill watermelon and sauce separately at least 1 hour.
  4. To serve, toss watermelon with black sesame seeds; taste and season with salt as needed. Top with scallions and cilantro.

On-A-Stick Options

Tis the season for everything on a stick! These recipes transform traditional handheld bites into the savory, sweet, powerful, and flavorful apps you've been waiting for. Why is everything immediately more fun and playful when it's on a stick? Either way, we are here for it!

Mini Grilled Cheeses - Two Ways


  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 8 slices of white bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Almond or pistachio butter
  • Fig jam
  • Fontina cheese. grated
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh mint
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh plums or figs, sliced into bite-sized chunks


  1. Satuee the red onion until it caramelizes deeply.
  2. Meanwhile, arrange the slices of bread on a large cutting board. Coat each one liberally with mayo, all the way to the crusts.
  3. Flip over each piece of bread so that they mayo side is facing down. Put cheddar cheese slices on 2 of them, and almond or pistachio butter on the other two. Put the caramelized onions on top of the cheddar slices and top with bread. Coat the outside of those slices with mayo. Spread fig jam on the other slices of bread and place some fontina cheese on top. Top with the almond or pistachio butter slice, and coat the outside with mayo.
  4. Grill all of your sandwiches in a pan or griddle until both sides are deeply toasted and the cheese melts.
  5. Remove the sandwiches and cut off the crusts. Cut each sandwich into fourths. Skewer the cheddar ones with fresh basil and tomatoes, and the fig jam ones with fresh mint leaves and plum slices.

The Best, Most Crunchy Potatoes Ever with Lemon and Garlic Mayo

A Chef Steph Speciality


  • 5 lbs of yukkon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of ghee
  • 2 tbs onion powder
  • 2 tbs garlic powder
  • 2 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 large heads of garlic
  • 1 large lemon
  • Fresh basil leaves


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow the potatoes to cook for 7-8 minutes, or until you can just pierce them with a knife. It is important not to cook the potatoes until they are completely done! You only want to par-boil them at this stage.
  3. Meanwhile, wrap the garlic in tin foil pouches and throw them into the oven to start roasting.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a large colander. While they are still warm, use a pairing knife to peel the skin off of each one. Cut each skinned-potato into large, 2-bite chunks, and throw them into a large bowl.
  5. Use your hands to toss them around roughly in the bowl. You want the outsides of the potatoes to get a bit starchy and mealy.
  6. Melt the ghee and the seasonings in a pot. Pour the mix over the potatoes and coat them evenly. 
  7. Pour the potatoes onto the baking tray. Try to arrange them so that they are cut side down. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, or until they become dark brown and crunchy.
  8. Remove the garlic from the oven, and squeeze the cloves directly into the mayo. Add the garlic powder, the zest and juice from the lemon, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  9. Skewer the potatoes with some fresh basil leaves, and serve with the mayo.

Be sure to head over to the Produce Alliance YouTube to watch full videos of "Chef Steph's Corner" as she takes on a journey and shows her takes on all these sweet summer culinary crazes. Bon appétit!