Chef Chris Shepard, chef of Houston’s Underbelly Restaurant, was named 2014 Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Shepard is a valued customer of Lightsey Farms, and credits the use of locally grown fresh produce to enhance his signature dishes and create an experience for his customers.
Chefs search for the freshest ingredients for their dishes and must constantly focus on variety and innovative ideas to keep patron’s interest. Supporting their local growers shows the importance they place on only the best ingredients—the same importance you place on ingredients for your family. Have you ever tasted the difference between a commercially-produced tomato and a vine-ripened, sun-sweetened plump and juicy tomato picked fresh this morning?
According to the National Restaurant’s Association, using seasonal produce can be less expensive when it’s in ample supply. You can use lettuce in the spring, tomatoes and fruit in the summer, and squash and root vegetables in the fall and winter months. Using seasonal items means better-tasting products and creates a menu variety that lasts all year1.
At Lightsey Farms, we focus on efficiencies in our growing methods so we can offer customers competitively priced fruits and vegetables. Good menu planning also helps to reduce waste and uses ingredients while at the peak of freshness.
Want to win awards with your family? Recipes are limitless with a little creativity. Appetizers are a great way to showcase fresh and seasonal produce. Create sauces and dips that pair well with fruit and vegetable slices and that speak to each season. For example, serve sliced apples with brie in the fall and pesto with chicken skewers in the summer2.
Try LIghtsey Farms prepared salsas, jams and jellies in your recipes to easily add depth and character to your dishes. Thin down our blackberry jam for a delicious drizzle on your favorite cheese for an elegant- but-easy appetizer. Seeing what produce is Now In Season on our website can inspire innovative ideas that will keep the interest of even the most refined palate.
Grilled vegetables are great when served as a side dish, while grilled fruit is a great way to top desserts. Grilled or sautéed vegetables can be added to rice or grain dishes3. Try thinly sliced zucchini in a sauté pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of your favorite steak seasoning blend for a quick side dish you can make on the stovetop.
Experiment with different cooking techniques to keep your family interested. Roasting vegetables brings out a different flavor than boiled vegetables and retains more nutrients. Overcooking vegetables also causes loss of both flavor and nutrients.
If you have a picky eater, masquerading fruits and vegetables can be fun and delicious too. Add kale to meatballs, or puree peaches with a little bbq sauce and top baked chicken dishes.
Fresh fruit can be used in chutney, which also can serve as a topping option for burgers or sandwiches. Don’t be afraid to get creative4. Finely chopped fruit salsa is also great on seafood.
Lightsey Farms supports several community farmers’ markets so you can find the most delicious and freshest ingredients with ease and convenience. Check out www.lightseyfarms.com/locations for a list of where you can find us. Come early for the best selection. Most markets are open from early May through the fall.
Interested in having fresh fruits and produce conveniently delivered to your business? The Lightsey Farms health and wellness outreach initiative connects businesses, municipalities, hospitals and non-profits through “Farm to Work” or “Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.)” by delivering a box of various seasonal farm-fresh, locally grown produce to employees at their worksites.
1,2, 3, 4 Source: http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Food-Nutrition/Nutrition/ 8-ways-to-incorporate-more-produce-in-your-menus. Excerpts from article by Betsy Craig, founder and CEO of National Restaurant Association partner Menu Trinfo.