September 3, 2013

Cooking Italian with Local Food

September is eat local month, but if you eat global recipes, it is impossible to be a pure locavore, "a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food".

I was in the mood to recreate a dish that my Florentine hostess cooked for me one night this summer.  But I want to challenge myself to eat as local as I can for the month of September.

As much as I tried, I think the only truly local food in this dish were the heirloom tomatoes from the Bellingham Farmer's Market, grown in nearby Everson.  That's okay.  Tomatoes are in season right now, and I'm eating local tomatoes.  

That's the basic idea.  If the local stuff is available, choose it over foods that are shipped from thousands of miles away.

This dish was served to me as risotto.  I used leftover Jade Pearl Rice that I tired for the first time yesterday.  My camera could not pick up on the subtle green tint to this delicate rice, so I am borrowing a pic that I found online, the credit is below.

It comes from south central China and is infused with a bamboo extract.  It smells faintly of green tea, which I do not care for.  It does not taste like green tea - it tastes earthy to me, like I am sitting in a tropical forest smelling the exotic foliage.


I remembered that my Florentine hostess' dish was savory and creamy.  I had to improvise, because she did not give me her recipe.  I tossed a tablespoon of grass fed butter. . . 

. . . and a couple of glugs of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, from Italy . . .

. . . into a small pot and heated on a medium-low flame.  Then I added organic frozen peas.  They might be local, they are at least regional to my state.

I threw in the leftover Jade rice. . .

. . . see what I mean, I just could not get a good pic of this rice, but it is so pretty in person, don't be afraid to buy it.  I was encouraged by a friend who had already tried it, thank you, Irene.  It is available in bulk at the Community Food Co-op in Bellingham, and most likely in many stores around the world.

I chopped some domestic Swiss cheese. . .

. . . some organic uncured ham, easily omitted for vegetarian, kale would be a great substitute. . . 

and shredded and chopped pecorino cheese, from Italy . . .

I put it all into the pot with the rice and peas and poured in about 1/8 cup of pasture-raised cream.

Gently stirred and heated thoroughly.

Chopped my heirloom, local tomato

And topped a bowl of the rice dish with the tomato

It was creamy as if I had used risotto, the peas popped with fresh crunchiness as if I had shelled them myself, the ham was lightly salty against the fresh and cold tomato.  It tasted almost exactly like the dish I fell in love with in Italy.

I admire locavores and those who try to eat seasonally.  I am challenging myself this month to eat more local than normal.  I am happy when I can eat delicious food that is free of pesticides.  If, in addition, I have supported my local farmers I feel triumphant.  If what I cook is satisfying and tastes good, I will make it again.

I'll make this again.

Let me know if you try it, or a variation on this theme.

(n.d.). Locavore. In Oxford American Dictionary. Retrieved from