Many environmentally conscious foodies and home chefs feel guilty this time of year. Why?It's because we feel like we;re expanding our carbon footprint by eating fruits and veggies from out of our regions. The problem is if we eat local, we'll basically starve til June.
Famed Dirt Candy chef Amanda Cohen wrote about this in today's New York Times Food section. Chef Cohen has created one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in the wold. She is known for her fun and innovative dishes such as her vegetable ice cream salad (!) and portobello mousse with sauteed Asian pears and cherries. She has no qualms about buying imported produce and we shouldn't' either. Sadly we can''t move to SoCal just for the avocados and lettuce, nor can we move to Italy and Spain just for the olive oil. (although some gourmands have on this last). Face facts. Our fruits and veggies have always been trucked in from faraway places and where they're from, they are in season There. is also the notion that the fruits and veggies that are on display now are inferior. Chef Cohen also advises to get over that.They are not inferior as I've found out with tomatoes and purple grapes.They're just as fresh and flavorful as their local counterparts are during the Spring, summer and fall months.
Her recipe contributions are all about the tomatoes. Chef Cohen loves tomatoes we all do, especially the ripe, red ones of August. Yet they don't have to be in season to taste good. There is a very good roasted winter tomatoes. The ingredients are what you'd expect basil garlic and olive oil. The surprise one is ginger which gives it an exciting zing. Coconut milk is added to another pomodoro dish. which gives it a South eastern Asian vibe. Red pepper flakes zest it up along with garlic and ginger. Chef Cohen suggests serving it over fish, rice or tofu.A third is is a tasty appetizer or an alternative to pizza. is roasted tomatoes and feta on toast.It's first pressing the water out of the Greek cheese, then pureeing it with heavy cream.It's topped with the roasted tomatoes along with the tomato oil from the roasting. A splash of grapefruit juice along with the zest of a whole one is added for mouth puckering freshness. All this is layered along with half a cup of torn chickery or wild arugula on your favorite bread that has been toasted. I'd recommend an Italian or French loaf for added flavor.
Don't feel guilty if you buy those grapes or tomatoes right now, It''s OK to eat them right now. They're in season - somewhere and are ripe for the picking and eating.