I know I sound like a broken recoded where my friends and clients are concerned when it comes to me saying “eat seasonally and locally.” There are so many reasons why I say this all the time. Ayurvedic principals are certainly one of them, but more importantly is that they are healthier.
And when it comes to end of the season vegetables, the supermarkets are a great place to go, but the farmers markets are an even better choice. Rows and rows of beautiful brownish-red and orangish-green tomatoes, bright yellow squash and multicolored eggplants, all transforming the local farmers market’s aisles into a warm earth toned still life painting. Besides the beauty of it all, shopping at the farmers market at the end of the summer is one of the best times to load up on vegetables to add to your diet, as they are super delicious and very cheap…I bet you like that “cheap” part. Yes, fresh whole vegetables tend to be pricy at times, and especially when you are buying organic. So being able to buy bunches of them and not break the bank is truly a great thing.
If fresh tasting, beautiful to look at and affordable is not enough to get you motivated to take a trip to your local farmers market, then try this on for size. Vegetables that are picked at the height of ripeness are loaded with way more nutrients that your standard supermarket variation. This is because vegetables that are picked specifically for the supermarket are typically not local and are picked before they are fully ripened. As they have not reached that peak of ripeness, they are not as mature and therefore not as nutritious. The reason they are picked before full maturity for supermarkets is so that they can make the long trip from California, Florida, Kansas (or wherever), to the big supermarket chains without spoiling so they can continue to look great many days later when you first see them in the bins. Basically, they are picked to be transportable over nutritious. Needless to say, once picked from the vine the growing process has stopped. This is another reason why when you go to your farmers market you see larger vegetables with deeper more vibrant colors, as they pick their veggies at the peak of ripeness.
And here is another fun fact; once a vegetable is picked from the vine it starts to go through a process called, respiration. This is a process in which the vegetable starts to break down the stored organic material (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) which leads to a loss of nutritional value.
So here is the easy breakdown:
Local fresh produce (from a farmers market) = more nutrient dense food in every bite. The bigger, cheaper and nicer to look at stuff is just a bonus of shopping at a farmers market over the nutritional aspect.
Now of course you need an idea on what to do with all these veggies now that I made you buy truckloads of local seasonal produce. Personally, this time of year I am a tomato shopper and I do love making a nice oven baked tomato sauce; super sweet, oniony, loaded with garlic and thyme and with that can’t miss oven roasted flavor. I still find it amazing how something so simple can yield so much incredible flavor! Here is how to do it…
Oven Roasted Tomatoes (using grape tomatoes):
- 3 pints of Grape Tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes); cut in half
- 1 small Onion; quartered and separated
- 2 cloves of Garlic; made into paste (tips below recipe)
- 4 sprigs of Thyme; left on the stem
- 3 to 4 tbsp. Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and coat evenly
(adjust for salt and pepper to taste)
- Bake for 35 minutes until they are lightly browned
How to use: you can use this for a marinara sauce by adding the tomatoes to a saucepot after they are roasted and simmering them for about 15 minutes to liquefy. Or you can use one large serving spoon full (or ladle) of the tomatoes, throw them into a pan with the equivalent of one bowl of already cooked pasta and toss to coat and heat through (this is my preferred method).
Yep, it was that simple. This method will yield exactly what I have in the picture. If you are going to use this for a simple marinara sauce, then add the smallest amount of salt possible when roasting, as most of us add Parmesan cheese to our pasta and cheese by itself is salty. Incidentally, you can use this same exact method to make tomato soup. Just roast off the tomatoes and put them in a large saucepot when they are done, add a small amount of liquid and grab that submersible blender you have that you have been dying to use to blend it into oblivion…voila, fresh tomato soup.
Garlic tip: mashing the garlic after you have chopped it makes it into a paste. This is great for oven baking as garlic tends to burn fast and this prevents that from happening. To do this, just mince your garlic and then using the flat back of your chef knife with the blade facing away from you, pull the flat blade across the cutting board. You can add a pinch of kosher salt to help pulverize the garlic into paste.
Also shown in photos is zucchini and bell peppers oven roasted. To do this, follow the same instructions but add 10 more minutes of baking time.