Try this favorite: Turkey Burgers with Roasted Eggplant Salsa
Eatiquette is built on the idea that this can and should be spread across the country. As the director of culinary operations at the VFFC, I help train and counsel our partner schools in the idea of sustainability. Quite simply, we teach people how to fish, rather than fishing while others watch.
What's in Season
The Eatiquette program uses seasonal ingredients as much as possible for multiple reasons. Cooking with seasonal ingredients, which are abundant in volume, often costs less. When educating children about food, the lunchroom becomes a classroom, and teaching them about seasonality has become a significant platform in our program. In-season produce can often be sourced locally, supporting the local economy, farmers, CSA growers, and markets. I still get excited when a season changes and a vegetable comes into season, bringing new opportunities for creativity. Out-of-season produce—say, asparagus in early November—tends to be less flavorful, and the children lose interest.
Mouth-watering Sage Roasted Turkey with Ground Cherry Marmalade
Trying New Varieties
When I approach a new vegetable or fruit variety, the first thing I do is taste it raw so I know my starting point. Much as with animal proteins, I will then try different cooking techniques: Can I fry/bake/roast/grill/braise it? What does each application do to the vegetable? I then like to research the region where the vegetable is indigenous and understand its history, to find its “roots” and how it was used classically. Then I go to work.
Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini Galette with Fontina Cheese (pictured right)
I am a fan of heirloom tomatoes. I typically can’t find them outside of summer months, and if I could it would be a crime. They’re not only terrifically beautiful, but so flavorful! All I need is some sea salt, fresh basil from the garden, and a beautiful olive oil. Anything beyond that just complicates things.
Recently I have come to admire the ‘Shishito’ pepper. ‘Shishito’ has a spicy flavor that is not overwhelming—it doesn’t cancel other flavors out, doesn’t numb your tongue, but also stands its ground and has a sustaining heat that marries well with other ingredients, no matter the application. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sautéed, it maintains wonderful flavor.
The Best Moments
The younger kids—the ones most people would think might be extremely picky—get so enthused about the program. When I have a 6-year-old asking me when we’re having basil risotto again, or telling me she taught her older brother how to set the dinner table, it just takes my breath away!
Kid favorite: Roasted Carrots with Mint and Honey!
Photography by Andrea Monzo
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, February/March 2014