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Taste Colorado’s Summer Star Ingredients

Warm days and cool nights in the Centennial State give way to some of the juiciest fruit and most flavorful vegetables you can get your hands on.

Melon Salad at The Kitchen in Boulder
Melon Salad at The Kitchen in Boulder
Cherry Clafoutis at Lafayette's Acreage
Cherry Clafoutis at Lafayette's Acreage

As a result, restaurants across the state have access to these produce powerhouses and use them to delicious effect. Check out the following crops and where to get the freshest dishes using them.

Corn

GrownOlathe, mid-July to mid-October

Colorado sweet corn has practically become synonymous with this tiny town near the San Juan Mountains, and we certainly won’t argue with its rightful reputation.

On Your Plate: At the new-American eatery Sweet Basil in Vail, there is almost always a spectacular sweet corn dish on the menu. Past delights have included the grilled-corn chowder with blue crab and bacon and a melt-in-your-mouth sweet-corn risotto.

Cherries

GrownPaonia, mid-June to mid-July

Typically the first fruit ripe for picking in the North Fork Valley, these little gems are even celebrated with their own Paonia Cherry Days festival each July. 

On Your Plate: A culinary venture from Denver-based Stem Ciders, Acreage in Lafayette knows its way around fruit. Chef Eric Lee utilizes cherries and Stem’s bourbon-barrel-aged Banjo cider in an unusual take on a classic baked French dessert called clafoutis. 

Peaches

GrownPalisade, August to mid-September

World-famous Palisade peaches make mouths salivate when they hit the farm stores and roadside stands around the Western Slope in late summer.

On Your Plate: Cool off with a bowl of silky chilled gazpacho made with High Country Orchards peaches, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber and swirl of crema at Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction

Chile Peppers

GrownPueblo, August to mid-October 

With hot and dry growing conditions in southeast Colorado, the Pueblo chile is the pride of the region, yielding flavorful yet mostly moderately spicy peppers.

On Your Plate: Consistently taking gold in several Best of Pueblo award categories, it’s no wonder that Cactus Flower’s chile rellenos make an impression.

Melons

GrownRocky Ford, August to mid-October

The cantaloupe and watermelon grown on the Eastern Plains have set the bar high when it comes to the sweet flavor of these melons. 

On Your Plate: Made with compressed melons, heirloom tomatoes, sesame brittle and basil and doused in a white balsamic vinaigrette with a hint of lime, the heirloom tomatoes and melon salad at The Kitchen in Boulder is a perfectly balanced taste of summer.

Native Flavors

Colorado’s agricultural prowess dates back to the indigenous people who cultivated the land. The following places and programs are aimed at keeping those traditions alive.

Sacred Earth at Denver Botanic Gardens | Denver

This garden includes heirloom crops and demonstrates traditional cultivation methods. 

Tocabe | Denver & Greenwood Village

The only American Indian-owned restaurant in metro Denver is known for its fluffy Navajo fry bread. 

Indigenous Roots | Weston

Take part in an authentic living-history immersion. Participants live in a teepee village near the historic Santa Fe Trail for a four-day program that includes communally prepared meals of traditional foods from various tribes. 

Pueblo Farming Project | Cortez area

This collaboration between Crown Canyon Archaeological Center and traditional Pueblo farmers teaches farming techniques, food preparation and more.

Four Directions Cuisine | Arvada

Find cooking classes and occasional events that blend ingredients from Latin America with those of American Indian tribes.

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