Cheesesticks :: Using Farm Fresh Ingredients in Appetizer Recipes
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Using Farm Fresh Ingredients in Appetizer Recipes

It wasn't so long ago that people mostly ate only what they could grow. There were no grocery stores with refrigerated, frozen, or prepackaged meals. Today we live in a world of convenience, junk food, and additives. Now though, more and more folks are finding their way back to the farm, so to speak. The wave of farm-to-table cooking is influencing dinners across the country. Why not have it spread to your appetizer recipes too?

Farm-to-table is about producing food locally and delivering it to consumers in the area. This local food movement is often partnered with organic initiatives and sustainable agriculture.

Go to Market

experience-the-difference-300x202.jpgIf you've ever strolled through a local farmer's market, you're sure to pick up on the healthy vibe. Food is fresh and colorful. Typically the farmers themselves are there selling their goods and can tell you anything you'd want to know about how their produce is grown. You can have confidence including these foods in your family's next meal, or in the appetizer recipe you want to use for your party that night.

Aside from giving you piece of mind about what you're eating, locally grown foods can add a fresh quality not found in chain grocery store produce, meats, dairy, and even baked goods. A stroll through a local farmer's market is also a relaxing venture that can bring a real sense of community.

As spring arrives, imagine yourself strolling through stalls filled with the bright reds, greens, and oranges of fresh produce. Move on to the warm cinnamon scent of fresh rolls and breads just baked early that morning. As you sip your coffee or tea, wander to a booth that boasts the freshest meats available – they may even be grilling some samples on the spot.

Not sure where to find a local farmer's market? Use this market finder from the USDA.

farm-fresh-goodness1-300x207.jpgCooking Fresh

You've brought your farm-fresh foods home with you. Now you need to incorporate them into some delicious recipes. Mediterranean food has long been known for its fresh, healthy quality. Try this Grilled Vegetable Meze Plate for your next party. One tip from us – if you're tired of dipping into hummus, try substituting plain Greek yogurt drizzled with a touch of olive oil and then top it with some toasted pine nuts instead.

Dips and spreads are always a party plus. Eating fried chips or filling up on breads isn't. Blanche farm-fresh green beans and use them to scoop up your dips. Then, step outside the box and whip up this Green Bean Pate slightly adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

  • ½ pound fresh green beans
  • 3 large onions
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 3 hard-cooked egg whites
  • 1 cup walnut or pecan pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • light crackers
  • Cook green beans in water over medium high heat for 12 minutes, then drain.
  • Sauté onions in vegetable broth over medium heat in a frying pan for about 30 minutes.
  • Place green beans, onions, hard-cooked egg whites, nuts, and salt/pepper in a food processor and blend to a paté consistency.
  • Serve with light crackers.
  • *makes 2 cups

Visiting a farmer's market is a fun outing. Eating locally grown foods benefits your health, the environment, and the local economy. Try it this spring and step back in time to the simpler, healthier days of cooking.

Fresh Dining Out

Want the night off but still want that freshness? Look for farm-to-table restaurants near you. Or, if you're traveling, visit one of these Top Ten Farm-To-Table Restaurants around the country and sample a delicious appetizer recipe or dinner that was likely in the ground earlier that day.