Slideshow: Ask a Chef: What's Your Favorite Southern Produce This Time of Year?

Okra
Okra
"Okra, or 'lady's fingers' as we call it in India is one of those vegetables that grows in abundance in warm regions across the world...this time of year the okra here in the American South is absolutely fantastic and a vegetable I love cooking with. I grew up in and around my mother’s kitchen in India and loved it every time she made Okra Pachadi, fried okra lightly dusted with spices and folded into a yogurt sauce laced with coconut oil, curry leaves and mustard seeds—mostly in the summertime because it is so refreshing." —Asha Gomez (Cardamom Hill)
Vidalia Onions
Vidalia Onions
"I look forward to summer so I can use genuine Georgia grown Vidalia onions. They appear in many dishes on our menu due to their versatility. Their natural sweetness lets them stand in where other onions might overpower the other ingredients. They are great raw with fresh heirloom tomatoes or go well in salads, soups, pastas, relish, chow chow, pickles, chutneys, braised greens, green beans, and numerous other applications. I love that we are fortunate to have the soil in South Georgia to grow an onion like no other place. We would have to re-think our menu without these little gems." —Marc Taft (Chicken and the Egg)
Blueberries
Blueberries
"When I was a kid, my grandparents would take me to this blueberry farm in early summer. We'd fill up a bucket with fresh, plump blueberries (picked ourselves) and store them in the freezer for the summer. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast every morning never got old! At the restaurant, we do a brown butter & thyme roasted veal sweetbread with blueberry pancake purée, Anson Mills grits w/ lemon, local arugula, pecans, pickled blueberries, and grit skin crackers."—Joseph Ward (H. Harper Station)
Tomatoes and more
Tomatoes and more
"One of my favorite ingredients for summer meals are tomatoes. I like both red, ripe tomatoes as well as delicious piquant, green tomatillos. Red tomatoes are often the easiest to find in grocery stores, but homegrown, fresh tomatoes from backyard gardens are without rival! If you don't have access to homegrown tomatoes, place your store-bought ones in a sunny window sill for a few days and the flavors improve incredibly." —Helen Velesiotis (Taco Taco)
Flowers
Flowers
"Flowers: pea flowers, chive blossoms, rosemary blossoms, and sage flowers are really pretty and are great addition to a plate with English peas. Pea shoots and chive blossoms give a great alium flavor to salads when you want a big, bright oniony taste. Rosemary blossoms are great candied with egg white and sugar as a garnish to a vanilla custard or panna cotta. I love sage flowers battered and fried with a seafood fritto misto." —Jacob Sessoms (Table Ashville)
Corn
Corn
"I like corn because of simplistic yet versatile nature. No other ingredient explores a broader spectrum of uses than corn; you can simply enjoy an ear of buttered corn on its own, or incorporate into countless other aspects of a meal." —Ron Eyester (Rosebud)