Local Produce Alert: Where to Find it, How to Cook It, Where to Eat it.

Fresh, Sun-Ripened Produce is the Ultimate Summer Staple.

Here’s where to buy the best locally grown produce, what to cook with it,

and where you can eat it at Charlotte area restaurants. 


Jess Bentley at Harvest Farms near Black Mountain, NC.

Hello Scoop Friends!

I recently returned from a North Carolina Farm Tour through the western side of the state (primarily Asheville); this adventure was in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and I would like to share a little bit about the significant difference it makes when you support your regional farmer and eat local, fresh produce.


 WHERE TO FIND IT: 



Meet Alan & Andrew Rose – the father and son duo behind New Sprout Organic Farms in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This farming organization grows, packs, and ships a vast variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables year-round; They can be found at your local Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Harris Teeter, and Publix (just to name a few). Next time you’re at your favorite grocery store, you can easily find their fine produce showcased with a bright orange label.

Photo courtesy of New Sprout Farms website.

New Sprout has committed to only offering regionally-grown, high-quality produce that is harvested in a sustainable manner by small to mid-sized independent growers in the South-East. This ensures that the food you’re eating comes from nearby farms and encourages you to eat seasonally, which is a great way to increase your overall health.


Say hello to Cassandra Benfield, owner and operator of Harvest Farm in Marion, North Carolina. This conventional family farm grows an assortment of produce including Tomatoes, Cabbage, Potatoes, Squash and Corn. Cassandra is a 5th generation farmer who sells her produce to local grocery chains and farmers markets. The Benfield family also runs one of the largest pick-in-field Pumpkin Patches in Watauga County; complete with a corn maze, trailer-pulled hayrides, concessions, and much more. Buying from local growers supports your local economy and helps preserve green space & farmlands in your area.

Jess Bentley & Charlotte’s local culinary expert, Heidi Billotto, planting cabbage at Harvest Farm.

SOME OF CHARLOTTE’S FARMERS MARKET LOCATIONS:

7TH STREET PUBLIC MARKET

COTSWOLD FARMERS MARKET

KINGS DRIVE FARMERS MARKET

MECKLENBURG COUNTY MARKET

MEAT & FISH CO.

​NODA FARMERS MARKET

ATHERTON MARKET

CHARLOTTE REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET

ROSA PARKS FARMERS MARKET

MEETING STREET MARKET

PLAZA MIDWOOD FARMERS MARKET

DAVIDSON FARMERS MARKET

GASTONIA FARMERS MARKET

HARRISBURG MARKET

HUNTERSVILLE GROWERS’ MARKET

​THE BRADFORD STORE

MATTHEWS COMMUNITY FARMERS MARKET

MINT HILL FARMERS MARKET

MOUNT HOLLY FARMERS MARKET

OLD TOWN MARKET

DOWNTOWN PINEVILLE FARMERS MARKET

WAXHAW FARMERS MARKET


WHAT TO COOK WITH LOCAL PRODUCE:


TOMATOES:

DINNER IDEA: CAPRESE CHICKEN OVER GREENS & BEANS

(serves 2 adults)

Chopped Caprese Salad is piled high over Grilled Chicken and a bed of Sautéed Spinach & White Beans with Crispy Cracker Breadcrumbs. 

INGREDIENTS: 

My go-to Chopped Caprese Salad:

  • 1 small container of Cherry Tomatoes (about 1.5 cups), chopped in half
  • 6-8 Basil Leaves (about 1/4 cup), chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Whole Milk Mozzarella, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil (I love using Greek Olive Oil in this recipe)
  • S + P, to taste

Grilled Chicken:

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 tbsp. Taco Seasoning

Sautéed Spinach & White Beans

  • 1 large bunch of Fresh Spinach (about 10 cups)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini Beans, rinsed & drained
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Olive Oil, for sautéing
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • S + P, to taste
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs or Crushed Crackers (we used Club Crackers)
  • 1 tbsp. Butter

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. Prepare Caprese Salad: Chop all Vegetables and Mozzarella and place in a large mixing bowl. Gently toss with Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and Salt + Pepper. Set aside until you’re ready to plate.
  2. Season the Chicken with desired seasonings: I like to use Taco Seasoning but you can use whatever seasoning you prefer. Grill on medium-high for about 7 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 165F and juices run clear.
  3. While the Chicken is grilling, prepare the sautéed Greens: Heat Olive Oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper. Sauté for 1 minute before adding the Spinach. In large handfuls, add Spinach in batches and mix constantly until wilted (about 10 minutes). Psst…Don’t forget to flip your Chicken while cooking this!
  4. Rinse and drain the Cannellini Beans and add to the skillet: Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until beans are heated through.
  5. In a separate pan, melt the Butter and add Crushed Crackers: Sauté until the Crackers are golden, about 4 minutes.
  6. Assemble the plates: First lay down a bed of Spinach & Beans and sprinkle with crispy Crushed Crackers. Next add the Grilled Chicken Breast and top with Caprese Salad. Serve Immediately.

Original recipe post found here.


CORN:

SIDE ITEM OR SALAD IDEA: STREET CORN QUINOA

Everything you love about fresh produce & super grains packed into one dish. Serve with Chips for a inventive dip!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup Quinoa or Super Grain Blend of choice
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock (for cooking the grains)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Corn, roasted
  • 1 (15 oz) can Black Beans
  • 1 small Butternut Squash, cubed & roasted
  • Juice of 2 Limes (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Taco Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Cojita Cheese (you can sub with Feta too)
  • S+P to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook Quinoa or Super Grain Blend of choice according to packaged directions; substitute Chicken Stock or Broth for water.
  2. Roast Butternut Squash: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut Squash into cubes (cut off the skin!) and toss in a little Olive Oil and season with S + P. Roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Roast Corn: Preheat oven to 450F. Remove husks and silks from corn and discard. Butter corn and wrap in foil. Roast on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes, turning once. Set aside to cool and then cut Corn off the cob.
  4. Chop and prep all remaining vegetables.
  5. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss until well combined. Eat immediately or keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Original recipe post found here.


KALE:

OFFICE LUNCH IDEA: HONEY CITRUS KALE SALAD

A bright flavorful salad that will make all your co-workers jealous…

INGREDIENTS:

For the Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp. fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh Orange Zest (can use up to 2 tsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Honey
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of Salt + Pepper

For the Kale Salad:

  • 1 large bundle of Kale, very finely chopped into shreds (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup Red Cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Carrots, sliced into matchsticks (cheat: you can buy these already prepped in the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup dried Cranberries
  • 2-3 tbsp. Sunflower Seeds

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar and seal shut with the lid. Shake vigorously. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using to allow the flavors to blend. You’ll want to shake it again before using.
  2. In the meantime, prep the salad ingredients. Make sure to cut out the rib of the Kale (the big hard piece in the middle). It is edible, but quite bitter and the salad will taste better without it.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all salad ingredients and drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
  4. Store any leftover salad and vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

Original recipe post found here.


ZUCCHINI:

LUNCH OR DINNER IDEA: CHICKEN BANH MI WRAPS

A handheld delight that even your children will beg for. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 Chicken Breast, pan fried with spices of choice and sliced {or you can use prepped Chicken from your favorite local market}
  • 3 Radishes, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 Zucchini, spiralized {if you don’t have a spiarlizer, you can cut the Zucchini into Matchsticks as well}
  • 1/2 cup Carrots {I buy these int he grocery store already prepped and cut into matchsticks}
  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro
  • Heavy drizzle of Aji Amarillo Sauce
  • Flatbread of choice, for wrapping everything together

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. Prep the Chicken and pan-fry until cooked through. To make things even easier, use some prepared Chicken from your favorite local market’s deli {which is what I did}.
  2. Lay Flatbread down on a plate and add all ingredients listed above, finishing with a drizzle of Aji Amarillo Sauce. {I also serve some sauce on the side for dipping… I’m obsessed with it.}
  3. Wrap together {to the best that you can, this wrap is massive} and eat immediately.

Note: If you are going to bring this wrap as your lunch for work, I would pack everything separately and assemble right before eating {otherwise it will be soggy by the time you’re ready to consume}.

Original recipe post found here.


A FEW RESTAURANTS THAT SERVE LOCAL PRODUCE

IN THE CHARLOTTE REGION:


If you find yourself in Hickory, NC – Highland Avenue Restaurant serves a plethora of dishes made in collaboration with local farmers.

HERITAGE FOOD & DRINK

LUNA’S LIVING KITCHEN

GALLERY RESTAURANT

FERN, FLAVORS FROM THE GARDEN

EVOKE

204 NORTH

BISTRO LA BON

THE ASBURY

MAMA RICOTTAS

THE KING’S KITCHEN

MIDWOOD SMOKEHOUSE

STOKE CHARLOTTE

YAFO KITCHEN

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*