Spring Harvest: Cooking Seasonally
Harvest fresh and cook seasonally
I remember growing up on a small farm in Jamaica, where during the spring harvest season my grandmother used to cook up the most delicious meals with produce available for harvesting. There were no gimmicks back then, just wholesome meals enjoyed around the table with loved ones. I don’t remember hearing the word pesticides and I definitely did not know what GMO stood for. We did not analyze what we were eating because life was simple and we depended on what nature gave us. Picking fresh fruits and vegetables when it was ready remains one of my best memories of those times. Many things have changed since then and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it is human greed or the inability to wait for something.
Cooking with seasonal and local ingredients is a great way to enjoy food while bonding with your surroundings. Many people believe this curb the options available, but you actually become more adventurous when you cook in season. The reason being, you are able to go to your local farmers market and pick and choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables. The other option is to grow your own fruits and vegetables in your backyard. You are assured that nothing has been grown unnaturally. This is not only good for your body, but also great for the environment. You can eat fresh all year round by choosing ingredients that are in season.
Have you ever grown your own tomatoes in season and experience the amount of flavor present? It truly is like an explosion of sweet and acidic. Compare that to the tomatoes you buy at your local grocer that is not grown in season and immediately the taste is almost non-existent. Naturally grown food has an intense flavor and if you’ve never experienced it, you might be a little shocked at first. This is the way nature intended it to be. The color of seasonal ingredients is just as surprising. Greens are greener and reds are not a combination of yellow and orange.
Do you ever wonder where plants get their nutrition from? Well, it’s from the soil and the sun. Organic, seasonal plants are harvested when it’s ripe and developed to the perfect time. This means there is a longer growing time, which includes more sun exposure. A great effect of more sun exposure means higher levels of antioxidants.
Better for the environment
It’s time we get back to allowing things to happen the way nature intended. If you look at how nature works, there is not much need for human assistance. The same goes for our main food ingredients. There is no need for pesticides and genetically modification if plants grow in season. When we try and do things unnaturally, many processes which are bad for us and the environment comes to play.
Farmer’s usually grow in season and there will be an abundance of the same types of plants. This gives them the opportunity to lower their prices in order to ensure the produce gets sold. Produce that are local and grown in season does not have the added costs of travelling and storage, which in affect reduces the production costs. There are usually only a number of farms able to grow produce out of season, at ridiculous costs. These products are stored for long period of time to make sure they have a supply of goods all year long.
Now that we have peaked your interested in seasonal cooking, here are some great recipes to kick you off:
These little balls of flavor are amazing when in season. Sundried tomatoes have gained popularity in the past few years and with reason. Using organic, in season sundried tomatoes is a great way to punch some flavor into your dishes. Combine those delicious tomatoes with pasta and you have a winning dish. Here on Gatronomer, we have a delicious pasta recipe incorporating sundried tomatoes. There is nothing as comforting as good pesto pasta.
Delicious as the main ingredients in a salad, arugula has become popular in recent years because of its intense flavor. Arugula is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, C and K. It is surprising we only learned about this power food recently. The flavor of this leafy green can stand on its own but you can always add a delicious dressing to enhance and pop the flavor.
The amazing thing about microgreens is that you can usually find a kind grown in every season. There are so many delicious and nutritious meals you can make using this power food. Try a variety of microgreens, topped with a poached egg and drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette.
This is not only a light meal option, but it is packed with a host of nutrition and antioxidants to help your health goals.
If you are looking for a warm, intense flavor, rosemary is a great herb to incorporate into your next dish. Usually this herb is paired with chicken or lamb, but there is nothing stopping you from using it in vegetarian dishes. We have a delicious recipe for couscous fritters with rosemary and red pepper flakes that is going to become one of your staple go to meals. In this recipe we used in season passionfruit to create a delicious sauce. It accompanies the fritters beautifully.
No recipe list is ever complete without a desert option. For this one we tried combining pears and almonds and it did not disappoint. In season pears are packed with health benefits. These subtly sweet fruit provides a ton of fiber, vitamin C and potassium just to name a few. Combine this powerhouse fruit with the flavor and nutritious value of almonds and you have a wonderful desert option.
There are many fantastic recipes you can incorporate into your diet with seasonal produce. The options are limitless in every season and your body will be in balance with nature. Eating seasonally will change your life. After a while, your taste buds will become so accustomed to the amazing flavor that you will immediately notice anything grown out of season. A balanced body is important to live a life of full potential. Add helping the environment to the plate and you have great food with a clear conscious. Let’s go back to the way things were and allow nature to feed our bodies and our minds.