Have you noticed everyone raving about the farmer’s market in your area? Why do people get so excited about the produce coming from other people’s gardens? The market opens up as early as 7am in some locations and people flocking there in droves to grab up the newly tied bunches of asparagus. Have you ever gone to Pick-Your-Own locations where you can get fresh Strawberries, Blueberries or Apples right off farm? What do you remember about the taste of these fruits? If you haven’t had this experience, I’m willing to bet you’ve at least had garden fresh produce. If you’ve grown tomatoes yourself, You know the difference between a homegrown tomato and a grocery store tomato is like comparing night and day.
You see, what I’m getting at here is that eating your foods seasonally can make your meals taste delicious again. There are two things to for this. First, it captures maximal flavor, texture and aroma. When you taste fresh food at the peak of it’s growing season, there will be more vitamins, more crunch, more juice, more everything. This is the secret to making your meals more delicious, making an impression on guests and why restaurants that cater to seasonal ingredients have the most loyal patrons. Seasonal flavor leaves a lasting impression.
The second piece is that when you reserve your enjoyment of foods seasonally, instead of any old time during the year, is that you create a special anticipation and fond nostalgia for these foods. It might not be practical to avoid tomatoes all year, but if you save eating fresh tomatoes for summer time, they become a rare delicacy. Perhaps when tomatoes are no longer available in season you eat canned tomato sauce or tomatoes that you canned from your own summer harvest! Here’s a quick rundown of some of the seasonal offerings you want to make sure you eat at the prime time of the year. The exact months and varieties available will depend on your location. This list is North Carolina specific. You can get a better idea of what’s available in your area by visiting your local farmer’s market, food co-operative or referring to your local agricultural extension office.
Early Spring: Asparagus, Mushrooms, Leafy Greens, Broccoli
Late Spring: Strawberries, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Broccoli
Early Summer: Blueberries, Peaches, Melons, Tomatoes, Eggplant
Late Summer:Raspberries, Grapes, Peppers, Butter Beans, Corn, Okra
Early Fall: Figs, Apples, Rutabaga, Squash, Pumpkin, Cabbage, Greens Late Fall:Garlic, Kale, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Pumpkin, Black Walnut
Early Winter: Apples, Arugula, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Collards, Microgreens, Hydroponic lettuce, Peanuts
Late Winter: Peanuts, Parsnips, Potatoes, Cabbage, Carrots, Beets, Hydroponic Lettuce, Sweet Potatoes
Although, this list highlights the seasonal produce available, consider that there is also a season for many other foods including: maple syrup (late winter), honey (late spring), oysters (fall), venison (fall & winter), and soft shell crabs (spring) just to name a few.
This past week, I was just craving one dish in particular that I haven’t enjoyed since last fall when the last of the tomatoes were drying up on the vine, Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s a badge of honor in the South to be able to fix these, and I’ve added a twist to make them dairy and gluten free, while adding a new layer of coconut flavor.
Coconut Fried Green Tomatoes
- 1/2 c coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Coconut oil for Frying
- 2-3 large green tomatoes
Mix together the dry ingredients for the breading. Slice the tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Pour a good layer of coconut oil into a cast iron pan and on medium for 5 minutes just before it smokes. (If it does smoke, take off heat and lower the burner a bit before putting the pan back on). Take tomato slices and coat in the dry ingredients on each side. The coating won’t be too thick (if you desire thicker coating, coat with a beaten egg before breading.) Place tomato slices into coconut oil for about 2-3 minutes per side. Using tongs, remove from pan and let drain on a paper towel before serving.
If you just can’t resist the temptation for your home grown tomatoes to ripen up before you get to eat them, this is the perfect way to grab a sneak peak out of your garden before you get overloaded with more tomatoes than you know what to do with. Enjoy a serving of healthy fat and let the flavor wash away any guilt from enjoying this fried favorite.
What is your favorite seasonal treat you look forward to every year? Is it something from your garden, or a local farm? Leave a comment below with your most anticipated seasonal food and how you like to eat it!