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August 20, 2012

Bounty of fresh ingredients available during summer

Chefs offer tips for preparing local greens, heirloom produce

PLATTSBURGH — The good ole summertime means access to tasty ingredients that are available only this time of year.

Some local chefs and food purveyors shared their favorite summer flavors, and hands down the chefs agree: Take advantage of the bounty of local greens and heirloom produce.

GARDEN FRESH

“What I like best this time of year is anything fresh from the garden,” said Mary Bushey, owner of Conroys Organics in West Chazy.

Bushey said her mother raised her family to love fresh greens as early in the season as they could get them. Dandelions and cowslip greens are popular springtime favorites in the Bushey household. This time of year, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard and spinach are always on the dinner menu.

Bushey likes to cook her greens in a pressure cooker.

“For just a minute, until they’re just barely cooked,” she said. 

She then sautés onions until caramelized, perhaps adds some celery and carrots and then tops it off with white wine to simmer. She’ll serve atop a grain such as farro or quinoa.

“I’ll also add whatever herb I have in the garden,” she said.

Basil, fresh parsley or cilantro are all good choices for the dish. She’ll finish it with a drizzle of good-flavored olive oil and lemon juice. Adding white beans for a protein boost is also suggested. The dish tastes good served warm or cool.

Besides adding greens to salads, Bushey suggests adding them to summer soups.

“And they’re so healthy for you,” she added.

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

Matt Ray, co-owner of Livingoods in Plattsburgh, has a summer fondness for Caprese salad, a dish he makes at the restaurant and at home.

“And it’s really simple to make,” Ray said. “Anyone can make this.”

Ray uses locally grown produce to concoct his summer staple, which includes heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella.

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