By Jessie Price
Here at EatingWell, staying in touch with the seasons is a way of life. Our office in Charlotte, Vermont, a rural town of about 3,500, is located in the midst of farm fields. We have dairy cows across the street and a flock of woolly sheep just down the road. The compost from our Test Kitchen feeds a pair of black pigs at a nearby farm. Each spring we plant big pots of herbs, chard and kale outside the front door. And all summer, we stop by the Charlotte Berry Farm after work to pick strawberries, raspberries and blueberries or head down to a local “secret spot” to forage for chanterelles.
As the food editor at EatingWell, I am passionate about savoring seasonal produce. In May it’s asparagus seven nights a week, and then in October I give myself stomachaches from eating too many apples. In early July I rush to my mom’s house to pick sour cherries before the birds eat them. When those cherries are in season, it means weeks of cherry tarts, cherry preserves, cherry pie and even sour-cherry cocktails with dark rum.
And I’m not the only one here who’s so crazy about seasonal produce. Test Kitchen Manager Stacy Fraser ran a small organic vegetable farm when she first moved to Charlotte. People around town still miss the amazing blend of salad greens she and her husband sold at their farmstand, back before you could find mesclun in plastic boxes at every supermarket. Now she puts her green thumb to work as the coordinator of the vegetable garden at her son’s school. Associate Editor Carolyn Malcoun is especially partial to dark leafy greens, which she tenderly refers to as “DLGs.” She gets DLGs from her CSA, grows them in her garden and one of her favorite stops on Saturday mornings is Pete’s Greens’ stand at her local farmers’ market. At Pete’s she picks up some of Vermont’s finest greens, from wild arugula to Italian dandelion
This wealth of wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables surrounding us inspires and informs our recipes at EatingWell every day. When I’m looking for ideas for an easy summer recipe, the first place I turn is my backyard garden. I got the idea for Poblano & Skirt Steak Fajitas when I was harvesting scallions and hot peppers from my garden. Carolyn had no problem coming up with recipe ideas for dark leafy greens.
Besides the inspiration that these fabulous local ingredients provide, they also happen to synch perfectly with our mission—to help people make healthy eating a way of life. After all, there’s no more enjoyable and delicious way to eat healthfully than to cook and eat whatever produce is best at the moment. Of course we also pepper in lean meats, cheeses, whole grains and dairy products. But the tart Honeycrisp apples in October and the ripe tomatoes in July are what make cooking exciting and make our recipes taste great.
And we strive to make these recipes as easy as possible so that eating well in season is a joy rather than a chore. In our Test Kitchen we test each recipe, on average, seven times to make sure that you get the same great results when you cook our recipes at home. Plus we stick with simple methods and easy-to-find ingredients to keep our recipes streamlined.
EatingWell in Season, The Farmers' Market Cookbook is a collection of some of our favorite recipes that highlight the best produce of the year. We’ve organized the recipes by season so you’ll find, for example, that the dishes in the Summer chapter feature produce that “peaks” during the summer months. Our Seasonal Produce Chart shows how we’ve organized the produce by season.
Of course, “peak” season is different depending on where you live. So what’s ripe around you locally at the moment is your best guide to what to cook next.
You’ll find recipes for the most iconic seasonal vegetables, such as peas in spring or citrus in winter, in this collection. And we’ve also included some more underappreciated seasonal beauties (just the sort of thing you might pick up at your farmers’ market), such as dandelion greens in spring or celery root in winter. And of course, I wouldn’t leave out the sour cherries. You can enjoy our delicious sour cherry slump. Just thinking of it, I can hardly wait for July.