4 Tips to Buy Local Produce

Pick a Star Ingredient

Choose one food item at its peak, then shape your meal around it, recommends Jesse Schenker, chef and owner of Recette restaurant in New York City. Schenker prefers to wait until he sees what his produce purveyors bring before building his menu. "They'll stop in with a bag of peas that were just shucked. I'll eat them raw and they'll be so sweet I'll start thinking of a pea soup or salad," he says. You can do the same at home by walking around your local market to taste produce or chat with the sellers before deciding what's for dinner that night.

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Cook Simple

When you use fresh ingredients, let them shine. "If you have something that's ripe and delicious, you don't have to do a lot to it," says Thomas. On the other hand, if you buy your produce out of season, you're going to have to put in some time (and money in the form of additional ingredients) to mask its weak flavor. "Have you ever eaten a peach in December? You have to add sugar and butter to get some semblance of flavor out of it," Thomas explains. "At the same time of year, you could have fresh pears with five times the flavor." Less work, healthier and cheaper? We'll have what she's having.

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Grilled Caesar Salad

Courtesy of Claire Thomas
Serves 4
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 slices Italian bread
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, halved
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for finishing
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Dressing:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 oil-preserved anchovies
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
  • ? cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Prepare a hot grill. In a bowl, mix the rosemary, garlic and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Cut the bread into ?-inch-thick slices. Brush slices with the olive oil mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until slightly charred on each side. Cube grilled bread to form croutons.

Drizzle the romaine halves with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and grill until slightly marked, about 20 seconds. Coarsely chop the romaine heads and mix with croutons in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing over the salad, and shave a few slices of Parmigiano on top to finish.

Nutritional info per serving: 278 calories, 6g protein, 23g fat (3g saturated), 12g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 211mg sodium

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