Summer BBQ Season 2023 is Finally Here!


By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”


As the 2023 barbecue season heats up across the country, nothing is going to stop you from getting your sizzle on this year…if you follow my recommendations below.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Robert Schueller of Melissa’s Produce and Linda Kissam discuss summer fruits and vegetables, as well as some delicious gift baskets. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.


Celebrate your grill’s comeback with ingredients that meet high standards from farm to flame, like exquisite, upscale summer produce. I’ve listed some of this year’s trendiest fruit and vegetable suggestions along with, two summer grillin’ baskets and a new grillin’ cookbook that will help you make the most of your summer festivities. Enjoy! See you out there on the flames of success.

NEW Sugar Mango: New to the US market, this bite-sized variety is a snackable treat. You can even eat the skin! Sink your teeth into one just like you’d enjoy a peach and let the sugar-sweet flavor transport you to a sun-soaked paradise. Grown in the Magdalena Valley on the tropical Caribbean coast of Colombia; family farmers work all year for the annual harvest that is meticulously grown on beautiful, mature (+30 years) trees.

Muscato Grapes (red, green, late in the season will be black):
They vary in color from green to red to black and are hybrids of some very special seedless grape varieties. They make a perfect summer snack with their crisp texture and mouthwatering, juicy interior. Muscato™ Grapes are much sweeter than the average grape, measuring at a brix (sweetness) level of at least 22 compared to the average grape brix of about 16. Toss Muscato™ Grapes into a summer fruit salad, add to your favorite sauce, or eat right out of hand. These delectable summer treats are a great addition to any dessert.

Charentais Melon: My pick of the season! Said to be the finest melon in both taste and texture. Because of their small size, they are the perfect “breakfast for two” melons. They have an orange flesh and a luscious, flowery aroma. Popular in Europe, Charentais are especially prized in France for their rich, honeyed finish. Try wrapping slices of Charentais with prosciutto as an appetizer, cut one in half, and serve with port wine poured over it for a special dessert, or enjoy with a latté.

Shishito Peppers: Traditionally served in Japanese cuisine roasted and tossed with sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce. Simple, elegant, and completely addictive. Recreate this experience at home by simply roasting it in the oven or a BBQ sauté pan for a few minutes, then tossing it with the Asian condiments and quickly serving it with your choice of beverage.

EZ Open Coconut: Dazzle your guests. One of nature’s sweetest gifts. Not only is the coconut water sweet, but it comes in the perfect vessel, making it that much easier to enjoy this hydrating beverage. It is delicious, thirst-quenching, fresh, and convenient. Super easy and tool-free, try Melissa’s EZ Open Coconut. It’s great for any occasion due to how simple the opening of it is. Just pull, press, and peel to enjoy this sweet treat!

Rhubarb: Somewhere in your past you’ve enjoyed this as a jam, in pie, sauces, or desserts. It is best known for its combination with strawberries. It resembles a cherry-colored celery stalk with shaded leaves so enormous they look like deep-green elephant ears. For prepping, remove and discard leaves, trim off the bottom end of the stalk, wash in cold water, and if stringy, peel. Only eat the stalks; the leaves contain oxalic acid and are poisonous. Rhubarb is revered for its sour perkiness as it adds to sweet and savory dishes. Complimentary flavors include citrus, berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla.

  • Melissa's Grilling Basket
    Melissa's Grilling Basket



Fava Beans: Fava beans work well in any vegetable sauté or simply served by themselves with a little butter, salt, and pepper. Try frying them on high heat in your BBQ grill basket, causing the skin to split open, and then add salt for a savory, crunchy snack.

Interested? Intrigued? You can find most of my suggestions in upscale markets. However, my suggestion is to try one of these Melissa Gift baskets (VERY popular for the summer). EVERYTHING you need is in these baskets. Order directly from Melissa’s.

Melissa’s Grilling Basket ($92.99): This beautiful woven basket holds a generous array of freshly picked vegetables including a gourmet grill-wok topper to prevent your veggies from falling into the fire. Based on availability, you will receive Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, sweet onion (Maui, Perfect Sweet, or Cipolline), Plantain, Portobello Mushroom, Chayote Squash, Asian Eggplant, Fennel, Jumbo Garlic, Anaheim Peppers and our Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes. A set of four bendable kabob skewers are also included to complete this popular basket!

Melissa’s Giving Hope Wine Basket ($98.49): Buy this tasty basket and donate to a wonderful cause. Inside this wonderful basket is a selection of exotic and tropical fruit accompanied by a 750 ml bottle of One Hope wine. One Hope Winery will donate ½ of its profits to benefit the local community as well as global causes. Fruit selection is based on the season but will likely include a stunning assortment arranged in a woven basket: Asian Pear, Baby Pineapple, Blood Orange, Cherimoya, Feijoas, Kiwis, Kumquats, Lychees, Mango, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Persimmons, Pomegranate, Rambutans, Specialty Bananas, Starfruit, and Tamarillos.

Chiles and Smoke Cookbook: BBQ, Grilling, and Other Fire-Friendly Recipes with Spice and Flavor ($26.99): Ignite your grill and elevate your barbecue game with more than 65 unforgettable recipes that combine the big, bold flavors of chiles with smoke and fire. Pitmaster Brad Prose delivers a BBQ book spanning beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables. Each chapter incorporates a variety of chiles, from spicy Jalapenos to bitter Shishito Peppers. Explore the alluring unification of smoke and heat with recipes.

Melissa’s produce can be found in most upper-end grocery stores and online at

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit






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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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