Recipes for Locavores

Jane Wilt Whitworth

    I love summertime: long days, warm nights, summer break, and the easiest time of year to be a locavore!
    A "locavore" makes use of locally grown foods, supporting the local economy through local growers, farmers markets, and farm stands, enjoying the freshest and, often, best tasting produce and other foods. In addition to taste and freshness, there can be health benefits to eating local. Fresh fruits and vegetables maintain nutrients when harvested and eaten in a short period of time.
    I remember when I was young, we would put water on to boil, go pick fresh sweet corn, husk it on the way back to the house, drop it into the water, and get it on the plate after seven minutes on the stove. Or grab a fresh tomato off the plant and bite right into it. Mmm!
    Even without eating things quite that fresh, there are always wonderfully flavorful new ideas for incorporating these fresh foods into your diet.
    I hope you will try some of these!
    I have always enjoyed beet greens, along with the beets themselves. Roasting beets, like many other vegetables that we used to boil to oblivion, enhances their natural sweetness. Sautéing the greens with just a bit of oil and seasoning, then finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon, maintains the delicious taste and texture. The goodness of polenta made with gruyere cheese, sliced and lightly browned, serves as a base layer that is topped with the beets and greens.
    Those wonderful garden fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes I mentioned earlier? Pair them with scallions and creamy fontina cheese in a tart, topped with chopped fresh chives. This tart is a delectable dish for any meal.
    Small summer squash and zucchini combine with onion and creamy dill dressing in a cool summer salad.
    The flavors of Greek tzatziki join with penne pasta, kalamata olives, and fresh produce in a new summer pasta salad for your recipe repertoire. Make it a day ahead and refrigerate to allow the flavors to fully develop.
    In addition to summer fruits and vegetables, other locally produced foods include eggs and honey. I am very happy to be able to buy eggs from friends who raise free-range chickens on a small local farm. The salmonella worries inherent in eggs from “egg factory” farms aren’t a concern and the yolks sport a deep golden color which adds rich color to dishes using those eggs.
    Locally produced honey is said to help combat allergies. Research is very mixed on that, but it is still worth getting the antioxidants and anti-bacterial, anti-fungal benefits in the honey - not to mention the wonderful flavor!
    Use those eggs and honey as ingredients to create a pie so delicious and rich that the frequent reaction to a taste of it is “Oh, honey! This pie is delicious!”  When trying to decide what to call the honey cream pie, I realized that was the perfect descriptive name.
    Make the most of all our locally produced foods and be a locavore.
It’s good for our communities and good for us!