By LAURI GROSS
This month, it’s hard to ignore the abundance of fresh local vegetables in grocery stores, roadside stands, farm markets and backyard gardens. Gardens are blooming with nature’s bounty this season, inspiring new recipes and more healthful eating at this time of year. Here, some legendary local farm families offer insight about making the most of the earth’s wonderful mid-to-late season offerings.
Chef Farmer Lee Jones, co-owner of the Chef’s Garden in Huron, has a lot to say on the subject. The Jones family started the Chef’s Garden more than 30 years ago. Still family owned and operated, the Chef’s Garden now supplies chefs, restaurants and consumers at home while Farmer Jones himself has become an in-demand speaker and expert on sustainable agriculture. The operation also includes the Culinary Vegetable Institute, a world-class educational, research and event facility that welcomes chefs from around the globe to share knowledge, host culinary events, research new techniques and learn about vegetables from the culinary center’s devoted team of chefs and growers. For details on home delivery, the Chef’s Garden Farm Market and more, visit Chefs-Garden.com.
Chef Jones says, “Eating with the seasons is one of the best things you can do for your health and for the planet. We suggest eating a rainbow of vegetables. Each of the colors is full of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more!”
What’s currently ready for harvest in Northeast Ohio includes a rainbow indeed, from arugula, to beans, bok choy, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, onions, peppers, squash and tomatoes.
Chef Jones cites the “food as medicine” mantra. He says this means “allowing the food we eat to nourish our bodies and improve health and wellness. Our primary objective with Farmacy at the Chef’s Garden is to go upstream, way upstream. We as the farmers want to be part of your healthcare team, helping you to prevent illness before it occurs, to live each day to its fullest feeling healthy and full of energy. Flavorful vegetables start with the soil. Healthy soil grows healthy plants; healthy plants make healthy people!”
For even more insight from Chef Farmer Lee Jones, check out his book “The Chef’s Garden/; a Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables.” In this guide and cookbook, available on Amazon and elsewhere, Farmer Lee Jones shares with readers a wealth of knowledge on how to select, prepare, and cook vegetables
Szalay’s Vegetable Farm in Peninsula is another trusted source for great vegetables and insight.
What began as Szalay’s vegetable farm in Peninsula in 1931, is now a specialized sweet corn farm and an old-fashioned farm market offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables fresh from the fields. More at SzalaysFarm.com.
Paula Szalay says, “Everything at our farm is either home grown, home-made or locally grown as much as possible. And, we deliver fresh sweet corn daily to many of the supermarkets in the Akron and Cleveland area.”
Visitors to Szalays can browse the market for a variety of vegetables that change as the season progresses, and enjoy a meal on site at the outdoor eateries open each summer through October. On summer Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the farm also hosts live entertainment.
For recipes from Chef Farmer Lee Jones and Szalay’s Vegetable Farm, visit currentsneo.com
From Chef Farmer Lee Jones of the Chef’s Garden
Purple Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Clove garlic, grated
¼ Tsp salt
4 Cups purple cabbage, shredded
1 Large purple carrot, shredded
1 Small purple daikon (ninja radish), shredded
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 Tablespoons sliced chives, divided
Whisk oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Add cabbage, carrot, daikon and 3 tablespoons each cilantro and chives; toss to coat. Serve the slaw topped the remaining cilantro and chives.From
Chef Farmer Lee Jones of the Chef’s Garden
Seared Brussels Sprout Hash
Source: Culinary Vegetable Institute
4 oz Baby Root Veg (carrot, radish, beet, sweet potato)
4 oz Fall Squash
8 oz Baby Brussels sprouts, split
1/2 Medium Onion, sliced
½ Apple, sliced
1 tsp Kosher Salt + More to taste
Black Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp high smoke point vegetable oil, coconut oil, or Lard
Preheat the oven to 400F
Wash and slice all of the root vegetables. Add them in batches to a large oven-safe cast iron skillet with vegetable oil and sear on medium heat, turning occasionally, allowing the flat sides to brown well. While they are searing, peel and slice the onion.
Remove the stems and seeds of the squash and dice it as well, add to the pan. When the Root vegetables are well browned remove them from the pan and transfer to a container or bowl.
Place the skillet back on the heat and add the onions and Brussels sprouts. On medium-high heat, sear them, adding a splash of oil if necessary.
When the Onion softens and sprouts start to brown on the edges add the seared root vegetables.
Finish with apples.
Toss or stir all of the ingredients together before grinding in fresh black pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for a few minutes until vegetables are cooked through. Average of 5-15 minutes.
Remove the hash from the oven.
Transfer portions to a plate and serve.
From Szalay’s Vegetable Garden
Fresh Corn Salad
6 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 cup fresh chopped tomato
1 cup chopped cucumber
¼ cup diced green onion
¼ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Boil corn 3-5 minutes
Set aside to cool
In large bowl, cut corn off cob and scrape the cob as well.
Then add tomato, cucumber and onions to the corn.
In smaller bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Close lid and shake, shake, shake.
Pour dressing over the veggies and toss to coat well.
Serve right away or refrigerate till ready to serve.
Salad will keep for a few days if refrigerated.
Makes about 10-12 servings (1/2-cup servings)