How to choose: Fresh arugula has long, bright green leaves. Buy it with the roots intact if you can.
How to store: Wrap the stems of arugula with roots in a moistened paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Keep loose leaves in a plastic bag. Refrigerate both types up to 3 days. Follow the expiration date for packaged arugula.
Best uses: Arugula tends to be gritty, so rinse the leaves thoroughly. The greens can be stirred into pasta, scattered on pizza, and, of course, used in salads.
How to choose: Look for whole, smooth leaves that are aromatic, bright green, and free of black spots.
How to store: Trim the bottoms of the stems (leave the roots attached, if present) and place the stalks in a few inches of water in a sturdy glass or vase―as you would a bunch of flowers. Keep at room temperature out of sunlight up to 4 days.
Best uses: Crush basil into a pesto. Add whole leaves to soups and salads.
How to choose: Chard is often classified by the color of its stems―red, white, green, or rainbow (a combination of colors, including yellow). Look for crisp, crinkly green leaves. The smaller the leaves, the sweeter their taste.
How to store: Refrigerate chard in a plastic bag up to 3 days.
Best uses: Small leaves can be cooked with the stems attached. Larger leaves should be separated from the stems, which should be given a few minutes’ head start when cooking. Chard can be stirred into stews and soups, blanched, or sautéed.
How to choose: If the store won’t let you pull back the husks, squeeze the ear to make sure the kernels are closely spaced, firm, and round. Look for grassy green, tightly wrapped husks. The silk should be glossy and pale yellow, the stem moist.
How to store: Refrigerate ears unshucked in a bag up to 3 days.
Best uses: Corn can be boiled, steamed, grilled, or, when very fresh, cut off the cob and tossed raw in salads.
How to choose: For both regular cucumbers and smaller, bumpier Kirbys (often used for pickles), choose firm, dark green ones with no wrinkles or spongy spots. No matter the variety, smaller cucumbers contain fewer seeds.
How to store: Refrigerate cucumbers in a plastic bag on a shelf toward the front of the refrigerator, which tends to be warmer, up to 5 days.
Best uses: Peel waxed cucumbers; unwaxed ones need only a light scrubbing. Cucumbers are tastiest served raw.
How to choose: An eggplant should feel heavy for its size and is tastiest at less than 1½ pounds. (Larger, older ones tend to be bitter.) Look for a smooth, shiny dark purple skin (a dull exterior indicates over-ripeness) and a green stem with leaves clinging to the top.
How to store: Refrigerate eggplant in a plastic bag up to 5 days; after that, it becomes bitter.
Best uses: Eggplant can be baked, sautéed, roasted, pan-fried, or broiled.
How to choose: Select yellow squash and zucchini that are less than 8 inches long. (Larger, older ones tend to be bitter.) Make sure the squash have bright skins and are firm, particularly at the stems.
How to store: Refrigerate yellow squash and zucchini in a plastic bag up to 5 days.
Best uses: You can eat summer squash grilled, roasted, sautéed, steamed, or raw.