T Nation

Local Seasonal Eating


In the vein of this post:
Top Vegetables and Fruits
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1517717

I wanted to ask what vegetables or fruits you all eat for each season/region. I am a huge advocate of purchasing local produce/products whenever possible. I believe that by eating more of the foods grown and processed locally, people can help support your local economy, support local farmers, and promote a sustainable, local food system, while enjoying the best quality and freshness available to them in their region.

Here are some of my favorite vegetables that fit into the seasons here in the Northeast United States:

[center]Spring:
asparagus
fiddleheads
garlic greens
greens
arugula
baby bok choy
cress
dandelion
kale
mizuna
mustard greens
sorrel
tat soi
lettuce
mushrooms
peas - snap and snow
radishes
rhubarb
spinach
sprouts

Summer
broccoli
baby carrots
cauliflower
celery
cucumbers
eggplant
endive
fennel
garlic
green beans
lettuce
mushrooms
onions - red and yellow
peppers - hot and sweet
baby potatoes - new
radicchio
scallions
sprouts
summer squash
sweet corn
tomatoes

Fall
beets
Brussels sprouts
cabbage
carrots
cauliflower
celeriac
fennel
garlic
globe artichokes
beets
bok choy
chard
collard
kale
turnips
leeks
onions - red and yellow
parsnips
potatoes
pumpkins
rutabaga
shallots
sweet potatoes
late squash

Winter-most veggies here have to last through the winter from the fall, so hardy vegetables that have a long shelf life are best. Some is grown indoors also.

beets
cabbages
carrots
garlic
Jerusalem artichoke
kale
kohlrabi
mushrooms (grown indoors)
onions - red and yellow
parsnips
potatoes
rutabagas
shallots
sprouts (grown indoors)
sweet potatoes
turnips
winter squash [/center]

In the spring I tend to eat more fresh uncooked vegetables. Salads and fresh very quickly blanched green vegetables.

Summer, I tend to make lots of fresh vegetable salads also but add in lots of grilled vegetables as well. When the spring asparagus starts to get thick and woody I will marinate it peel it and grill it to keep eating it through the summer. I also start to make lots of tomato and other vegetable soups and freeze them for the fall and winter when I don’t have access to these vegetables.

Fall, this is when the lions share of vegetables get harvested here in the Northeast. I have so much produce from my garden and available at the markets that I can barely keep up with the abundance of colors and flavors. I tend to do quite a bit of cooking and putting into the freezer. I also start pickling quite a bit also. Stews and soups are the order of the season.

Winter, the winter vegetables usually take a bit more cooking so I tend to make quite a bit of soups, stews and braises at this time of year and count down the days until the spring vegetables will start coloring my garden again.

I am curious to know what vegetables you all like in your own regions for each season and how your cooking methods change with the change of the seasons.

Thanks,
~Cheffie

Down here, we get to start our gardens in February. Lettuce, radishes and onions go in first. These are followed by green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, okra, and finally by sweet corn. Being in the south, we get 2 crops of tomatoes per year. A spring and a fall crop. I try to keep my garden full year round.

I have more luck with carrots and cabbage in the fall than in the spring. I try to plant a large enough crop that I can put some away for later. Blanched and frozen green beans and corn are great. Same for home canned tomatoes.

There’s another reason for eating local vegetables and fruits. Namely, a lot of the stuff you buy in supermarkets gets picked before ripe, often gets ripened using some kind of gas and is less nutritious…not to mention the fact that more and more of our produce is going to be genetically engineered.
I can’t speak scientifically about this last item, but it has me even more nervous about our food supply.

From April to November we have farmers markets here (with REAL farmers) and I usually go there to buy seasonal vegetables. Otherwise, I go to Whole Foods and try to get locally grown vegetables. Attention though…even though most of the produce in Whole Foods is organic, some of it is shipped from far away and is picked before ripe.

I can remember when watermelons were a treat that you got to eat in July in August. Now you seem them in December.
No way, I’m eating a damn watermelon in the middle of December unless I happen to be in the southern hemisphere on vacation at that time!

Awesome replies so far…thanks! I’m always interested to know what veggies other people use in their cooking and it helps me to write recipes that incorporate these things. I also like to write recipes about veggies maybe no one has tried too…

Like this great spring vegetable
Fiddlehead Ferns- These are a classic spring vegetable here in the North east from Canada to Virginia. They have a flavor similar to artichokes or asparagus. They take best to being cooked with very simple flavors.

Trim the tail of each shoot to within a 1/4 inch of the coil, and steam them until fully cooked. Sometimes of the year, they are very fuzzy and the fuzz can be removed by gentle rubbing. Rinse well and dry.

Their flavor profiles are similar, so treat fiddlehead ferns as you would artichokes or asparagus. Because they are so beautiful and unusual in appearance, serve steamed fiddlehead ferns as a first course for special dinners or just to impress a special person, or to impress yourself.

To cook:
Steam them until fully tender about 10-15 minutes. Don’t undercook them or their complex flavors will not shine through. Combine them with a touch of high quality fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lemon zest or drizzled with a less than acidic champagne vinegar toss and serve warm with your favorite protein. Goes very well with Quail or even chicken or fish.

Lisa,

I dont know if it is locally grown (probably isn’t) but I REALLY like this Chinese vegetable “Bitter Melon”. It’s got a bitter taste to it. As you probably know, bitter is supposed to be good for the digestion. If you can’t handle too much bitter taste, you can always add some carrot in with it to soften the blow.

I find that the contrast bitter/sweet is a really nice one. Speaking of bitter, I also like the chicory that is usually called “radicchio” in the stores (Italian name but not what the Italians call it…in Italy it’s called “Cicoria Rossa”). That I like to have raw with a little bit of carrot in a vinaigrette.

How about fennel cooked (sauteed and then add a bit of water) with a bit of nutmeg…be sparce with the nutmeg…in large doses it can be somewhat of a hallucinogen! You MAY or MAY NOT want that effect.

I’ll tell you something that I like to eat raw when I can find it…celery. Now most stores-even Whole Foods- sell celery when it is very mature. It tends to be string and tough. If I eat it raw it has to be eaten cut very thinly. However, if the celery is picked young it is very yummy. Unfortunately I have a hard to finding a source for that.

You have some artichoke in your first picture. Now that is a vegetable few people eat in this country…and if they do eat it, they eat leave tips tipped in butter or the hearts bottled in vinegar.

However, if you have the patience to tear off the outer leaves of the artichoke, you can do great things with this vegetable. For some strange reason in this country, artichokes are never sold with their stem (not so, in Italy where artichokes are used a lot in the cuisine).

If you are lucky enough to get the stem, just shave off the outer-layer and use the meat. It’s delicious if you use the artichoke meat in a risotto or in a pasta (without tomato sauce)…just boil the artichoke in the pasta water with the pasta…at the end, add olive oil and maybe some oregano…

Of course I dont eat much starchy carbs anymore, but when I do and when artichokes are in season I like to make this dish.

Here’s another great vegetable that is mostly available in the spring for you people on the West Coast. California grows the most white asparagus in this country.

Give this recipe a try if you see white asparagus in your market this spring.

[center]White Asparagus with Lemon Ginger Dressing[/center]
[center]makes 10-16 servings[/center]

Ingredients
3 lbs. white asparagus
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil of good quality
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Method

  1. Snap off tough ends of asparagus and rinse. Steam until tender, 9 to 11 minutes. Plunge into ice water if you aren’t using it right away to stop the cooking process when you have reached desired tenderness.
  2. Prepare dressing by combining ginger and lemon juice in small bowl. Slowly add oil in thin stream, whisking constantly.
  3. Stir in sesame oil, salt and pepper.
  4. When ready to serve place asparagus on platter and drizzle on dressing while asparagus is still warm. Serve at room temperature.

**Serve with seared ahi tuna steak with barley and a bit more of the dressing drizzled on top.

Mmmm I love asparagus!

I’m in approx the same location and haven’t found a veggie I don’t like (now as far as fruit, I didn’t like the durian).

I mostly prefer whole, raw, veggies which are organic, I have found the flavor most of the time to be superior. I just wash and eat and I tend to carry around raw fruits and veggies on the go.

Next would be raw food recipes. Very tasty and low cal if you stay away from the one’s containing lots of nuts or avocado (although they are really tasty too). :smiley: