The Green Gourmet
You can create memorable meals in an organic kitchen.
Once upon a time everyone ate organic, locally produced foods. Cooks bought their ingredients from farmers in the surrounding countryside who grew their crops with nary a weedkiller—and no one thought twice because that’s the way it had always been.
Today, after a century that saw salvation in synthetic agriculture, we’ve come full circle. Organic foods are being celebrated by an increasing number of cooks. Health is an important reason, but it’s not the only one. “Taste-test the organic items available on your market’s shelves and you, too, will be a believer,” says Jesse Ziff Cool, restaurateur and author of Simply Organic (Chronicle Books). She notes that going organic is not only tastier and healthier but also more sustainable—shipping chemical-soaked, tasteless food thousands of miles simply isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Becoming an organic cook doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Cool suggests making a gradual transition by first listing those ingredients in both pantry and refrigerator that you use most often, adding that you “may also want to look through your recipe box for family favorites and list the main ingredients.” Then use your list (or lists) when you shop to find organic alternatives. “You may want to pick up just a few new items each week,” Cool says. She also urges eating produce in season as much as possible, such as the baby artichokes featured in this salad recipe.
If you can’t find organic meat there are other choices. According to Cool, “natural” meats have been raised without such substances as antibiotics and various growth promoters, and without animal byproducts in their feed. “Grass-fed” animals do not consume grains, while “pasture-raised” animals live their lives on open land. Watch out for the term “free-range” when applied to poultry, though; Cool says such birds may spend as little as two and a half hours out of their pens each day.
Giving your kitchen an organic makeover is worth the effort. As Cool says, “You have a wonderful opportunity to save the environment and preserve the health of your family.”
Baby Artichoke, Parsley and Celery Salad
2 1/2 lbs baby artichokes
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 medium red onion (or 5
green onions), thinly sliced
1 cup packed Italian parsley, stems removed
1/4 cup capers
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
dash Tabasco sauce
freshly ground pepper
1. Clean the artichokes by pulling away and discarding the outer leaves until all that remains is the very light, tender inner leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut off and discard the tips of the remaining leaves and all the dark parts.
2. Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl. Slice the trimmed artichokes thinly and add to the bowl, tossing well. Add the celery, onion, parsley,capers, oil and Tabasco, then salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve at room temperature or cook in a skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes to warm slightly.
Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 291 calories, 9g protein, 18g fat (3g saturated), 14g fiber, 30g carbohydrate, 433 mg sodium
Source: Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool (Chronicle Books, www.chroniclebooks.com)