As I plan my pesto and roasted red pepper venison burger dinner tonight, I get to thinking about the whole eating local movement.
I used to be obsessed with eating local, and therefore seasonal, foods. But it takes a lot of planning and perfectly timed trips to a grower’s market followed by a trip to the store to fill in the gaps (we do not have the largest of markets here in terms of variety). I live about 30 minutes from town and trying to juggle working from home full-time while raising a 2-year old on non-processed foods, no TV, and a nap time that just happens to correspond to the time our grower’s market opens, I just got tired and I sort of gave up altogether. I skipped the market and just shopped at our co-op…and felt guilty every Wednesday.
But here’s what I’m thinking: eating locally is not an all or nothing club. And let me tell you that is a very good thing since the only veggies coming out of our local organic farms right now are eggplant, beans, and peppers. You can eat locally (especially out of your own back yard) as little or as much as you want. Eating just your own homemade pesto or slicing local tomatoes on your very not-local lettuce sandwich is something to enjoy, relish, and be proud of!
What I love about eating locally is the gorge factor. We must have eaten over 5 pounds of blueberries in this past month. We ate twice as many pounds of tomatoes the last 2 months. You eat so much of such a wonderful thing you are satiated until the season rolls around again…at least that’s the idea. Just last night one of our local farmers asked me what I did with all the red peppers I’ve been buying every week. For a farmer to be asking me that question, I must be winning the prize of red pepper gorging in the community!
So go out and revel in the fruits of the season - roast up some red peppers, make some homemade pesto, thaw out some venison from last fall and take a big bite out of summer! And don’t even think twice about wanting to serve those burgers with a nice romaine salad and store-bought buns!
What I’ve Been Doing with the Red Peppers - As I said, its been red pepper season here in North Florida and thank you to my local farmers for growing such beautiful peppers! I’ve been stuffing them with feta cheese and baking them at 350 until they are soft, chopping them for salads, stirfries, and spaghetti sauce, roasting them and putting them on burgers, sandwiches, and salads, and just eating them raw like a carrot…with seeds I guess…a carrot with seeds.
We are having the family down for venison burgers. Because normal American-style burgers are just not exciting enough for me, I’m dressing these babies up.
First throw the red peppers on the grill, turning often. When the red peppers are blackened and poopy looking (thats tired poopy not poopy poopy) pull them off and put them in a paper sack. While waiting for the peppers to cool, grill the burgers - for the burgers I just mix 1+pounds of ground venison with an egg, salt, and pepper. After the peppers are cooled, strip off the skin and slice them up.
When the burgers are almost off the grill and the charcoal is good and ashy, throw on chunks of romaine lettuce that have been tossed with olive oil. Just grill them for a few minutes on each side and then dress them with a creamy dressing. I am mixing mayo with lemon juice, water, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Spread the buns with pesto (recipe below) and top with the red pepper strips, your favorite cheese (goat would do great but cheddar or parm or no cheese at all works great too), and the burgers. Serve with the grilled lettuce salad.
Pesto - this is southern-style made with pecans but you could sub-out pine nuts, walnuts, or whatever you have. It also makes a lot but I put the extra into an ice cube tray, freeze it, pop out the cubes, and store them in an old yogurt container in the freezer - ready made summer year round.
It’s real easy, just put the following in a food processor: 2 c packed basil leaves, 1/2 - 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 c toasted pecans, 2 oz fresh parm, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 t each salt and pepper.
Toss the pesto with grilled veggies and/or pasta, coat on fish before grilling, spread on bread for sandwiches or bruschetta, whatever your heart desires!