Finding variety in seasonal produce
Posted: Friday, Apr. 13, 2012
Chef Troy Gagliardo
"Chef Troy" Gagliardo hosts a weekly cooking segment called "Tuesdays with Troy" live every Tuesday on Fox News Rising from 7 to 9 am. He has made over 200 appearances on the show showcasing over 600 of his unique original recipes was voted one of the Top Five best chefs in Charlotte in 2013. Troy has penned a cookbook called Seasonal Comfort featuring some of his favorite comfort food recipes, and his business Motown Spice Provisions has supplied restaurants and country clubs in the greater Charlotte area for the past 10 years. He enjoys teaching readers and viewers alike how to build their "cooking confidence" through his recipes and simple technique. He is a self-taught chef who learned early on the important of family and food, and the connection between both, from his parents and grandparents. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is always very exciting time of year to enjoy fresh vegetables. Yeah, we can get fresh looking vegetables all year round; but nothing like when they are in season and local.
The taste, in fresh locally grown produce, is better for a few reasons.
1) more time in the ground and less time traveling the ground to its destination.
2) local farms tend to be smaller and not over farmed, providing the produce more flavor from proper soil management.
3) local produce means in season, flavor comes directly from the land and the season.
The best way to enjoy fresh seasonal produce is to let the product stand on its own without masking it with a bunch of different flavors. You will be amazed at how simple always taste better when using fresh produce.
However, the fact remains that after a month or two of eating our favorite vegetables, meals will tend to become boring and mundane.
Here are few great ways to stay excited about cooking and eating your favorites and to keep your meals as fresh as your produce.
Simply blanch or lightly grilling fresh vegetables, add a splash of olive oil and a little salt and pepper
A fresh veggies on pizza or grilled in salads.
Peel raw vegetables into shreds to make a salad, dress as you would any other salad.
Lightly oil, season and roast fresh veggies in a 350 degree oven until just cooked through
Use fresh vegetables in place of pasta in homemade lasagna
Modify classic dishes like the pasta dish below to incorporate fresh seasonal produce
Spring Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 2 to 4
1/2 lb spaghetti
1/2 lb bacon
black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green onions, sliced, whites and green tops separated
1/4 cup white wine-pinot grigio
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 heavy cream, optional
1 cup Parmesan
8 stalks fresh asparagus, stem end removed, cut into 1 pieces
1/2 cup fresh spring peas or fresh frozen
Make sure to have all components for the dish lined up and ready to go, once you start this dish its going to go very fast.
Peas and Asparagus:
1)Bring a large pot of water to a boil, this will be the same water and pot that the pasta will be cooked in, and add a large pinch of salt. Fill a large mixing bowl with very cold ice water for ice bath.
2) Add the peas and asparagus and parboil for one minute.
3)Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place directly into the ice bath, drain well and set aside. Keep water boiling, add more water if necessary.
Preparing the Dish:
Preheat a large pan over medium high heat. Slice bacon into thin strips and place in pan, season with black pepper and cook until almost crisp, remove and drain on paper towels until ready to use.
Cook the spaghetti for 8 minutes or until al dente, stirring frequently while completely the steps below
Keep bacon drippings warm over medium heat and add the olive oil, white parts of the onions and the garlic, cook for 1 minute, add the wine and let reduce by half and add the heavy cream if using. Cook to slightly thicken.
Remove from heat if pasta isnt finished cooking, making sure to bring back to medium heat as pasta is finished.
Reserve a cup or so of pasta water before draining pasta. Drain pasta and add to the pan of garlic and onions, using tongs toss to coat pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the beaten eggs, stirring to start the setting of the eggs.
Add about 3/4 of the parmesan cheese and toss to coat. If pasta seems dry or needs a little more heat to set the eggs add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water and toss until slightly moist texture is achieved.
Add half of the bacon crumbling into the pasta; toss and begin plating the pasta on separate plates. Top with asparagus, peas, green onion tops and remaining bacon and parmesan cheese.
Drizzle with a little olive and serve.
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