A Fresh Perspective on Perishables
By Jennifer Bronson
An abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables is overflowing the aisles with colors, flavors, and textures to inspire even the most novice chefs. Filling your shopping basket to the brim with these beauties is the easy part, but using them before they go bad can be difficult. The easiest way to combat rotting produce is to attempt new, exciting recipes. Fruits can be made into salsas, salads, and even refreshing summer soups.
Vegetables can be added to breads, pastries, and pies—green tomato pie is scrumptious! So, think outside of the hand-me-down recipe box. New recipes not only help use what you have, but they also introduce new foods and spices into your diet that you might not have tried in your usual summer fare. The vibrant reds of chopped radishes with goat cheese, yogurt, and mint make a delicious dip or topping for spicy dishes. Instead of eggplant parmesan, try curried eggplant with roasted chickpeas and spinach as a main course. Okra is a deep-fried favorite, but why not substitute a scalloped okra and corn bake as a non-fried alternative. Potatoes about to sprout? Rather than waiting for them to bake, shred them, mix with onions and peppers, and sauté in garlic-infused oil for a hearty hash brown breakfast.
Spring brings Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Memorial Day, graduations, and the end of school year! All of these are opportunities to use and give what you already have in your pantry and fridge. Gift baskets are fun, creative presents that can be filled with fresh produce and spices, homemade breads, and local cheeses. Think of giving a vegetable garden basket filled with tomatoes, peppers, basil, and seeds to celebrate the spring equinox with a fellow gardener!
Besides using it yourself or gift-giving to a loved one, the best way to make use of everything in your pantry is to make a donation. The major fall and winter holidays see the highest influx of food donations, but summer is a time of need as well. This is when the kids are out of school and many of them rely on donations to be able to have daily meals. Look into local charities and schools that accept food donations, both canned and fresh. Not only will you use what you have, but you will also help someone in need!