Category Archives: Seasonal Produce

Fall Vegetables: 5 Amazing Facts You HAVE to Know

Getting ready for the change in season? For me that means shifting my menus to include lots of fall vegetables. In addition to cooking seasonally, some of us chefs like to geek out over fun and interesting food facts.

From their many health benefits to their rich history, here are jeopardy-worthy fall vegetable facts you HAVE to know. Use them to impress your dinner guests or to get conversation rolling around the table.

Fun Facts About Fall Vegetables

1. Carrots are around 5,000 years old…and they’re still going strong! Many say carrots were originally used medicinally. Today, they’re a culinary staple, used to prepare stocks, soups and stews. Even though we don’t often think about the health benefits, they’re still there. Carrots contain beta-carotene (how they got their name) and other important nutrients. (Source)

2. Cauliflower is the answer to…everything! Because of its versatility, you can use cauliflower to make grain-free dishes like cauliflower rice and pizza dough. You can even use it in vegetarian cooking to make meat-like meals, such as cauliflower steaks and buffalo nuggets. If you’re on a limited diet, ask us how we can turn your favorite food into a healthful cauliflower creation.

3. Mushrooms can help give your immune system a boost—which is good to know as those first fall sniffles come to pass. They’re also anti-inflammatory. You can find mushrooms sold as teas and tinctures, but I like to use whole mushrooms in my meals to yield the benefits. Sauté them and add to pasta dishes or put them in the food processor to make a vegan pâté (check out this recipe from Smitten Kitchen). (Source)

4. Chestnuts aren’t just for open fires (and Christmas songs). Chestnuts can be used to make a variety of sweet and savory dishes…seriously! Try this creamy puréed chestnut soup or use chestnut flour to make gluten-free brownies. Get creative and see how awesome chestnuts can be.

5. Potatoes: According to the International Potato Center (yup, that’s a thing) there are more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes—in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colors. We like to serve them in a bunch of different ways for our personal chef clients. From mashed potatoes to french fries to latkes, there’s plenty to whip up with all those spuds this season.

Want to get more fall vegetables on your plate? About the Table will design fresh menus of healthy and delicious meals, featuring the best local produce just for you. We’ll even throw in a few extra fun facts! Contact us to learn more.

Too Hot to Cook? Try These No-Cook Meal Ideas This Summer!

Has it become too hot to cook in your kitchen this summer? The thought of turning on the oven or stove is less than appealing when you’ve been out in the sun all day. But don’t let the heat spoil your appetite. There are plenty of light, no-cook meal ideas available to beat the heat while keeping your family well-fed!

Key Ingredients for No-Cook Meals

1. Seasonal Veggies: When building a meal that doesn’t require the stovetop or oven, think veggies first. Summer is the ideal time to enjoy a variety of raw veggies, from sugar snap peas to bell peppers. Invest in a spiralizer to make fresh “noodles” out of zucchini, carrots or beets. Avocados are incredibly diverse and can be transformed into anything from salad toppings to creamy sauces. Try this recipe for Caprese-Stuffed Avocados for a light twist on traditional caprese salad.

2. Pre-Made Proteins: This is also the perfect time to use canned meats such as tuna, chicken or salmon. Any of these proteins can be combined with mayonnaise, diced veggies and a few spices for a wonderfully flavorful salad. Scoop it onto crackers or into butter lettuce leaves for a crisp, refreshing meal.

3. Leafy Greens: Salads can easily become the centerpiece of the meal if you’re dreading turning on the oven. A southwestern-flavored salad with corn, black beans and tomatoes lends itself to a variety of other toppings like peppers, guacamole and salsa. Or try a Greek salad with feta cheese, kalamata olives and cucumbers.

4. Gourmet Items: Who says dinner needs to be plated? Fill up the table with platters of gourmet deli meats and cheeses, raw fruits (like figs) and veggies. Add your favorite dips, and let everyone gather around the table and build their own meal. This could easily become a picnic dinner if you want to venture to a park to eat.

Too Hot and Tired to Make a Meal?

Let us help! About the Table can prepare light, refreshing cold meals for you and your family to enjoy all summer long. Contact us here to set up a weekly meal plan.

Already a client? Ask us about including more cold meals on the menu!

5 Must-Have Produce and Meal Ideas for Summer

Every season I like to introduce new meals and ingredients to my clients’ menus. It keeps things interesting, and it’s healthier, too! Mother Nature knows exactly what we need each season, and in summer, it’s all about raw, delicate fruits and veggies to keep us cool and hydrated.

Produce in season doesn’t require much preparation because it’s perfect as-is. But incorporating these fresh ingredients into your dishes in new and unique ways will add intrigue to your plate—and bring the whole family around the table.

When planning your weekly meals and snacks, take a page from About the Table. We’ll be highlighting these seasonal favorites in our clients’ menus. Add them to your grocery list or let us do it for you!

Summer Produce & Meal Ideas

Cherries: Perfectly sweet and tart, take advantage of cherries while you can (as much as you can). They’re a great snack to enjoy on the go or at the beach. You can also incorporate them into your side dishes and desserts. Think: cherries over vanilla ice cream, homemade cherry jam and this Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Feta.

Berries: Another snackable fruit to have on hand, berries are bursting with nutrients and antioxidants. Try all varieties, from strawberries to blackberries, in muesli, yogurt, smoothies and salads. Top with whipped cream for a sweet treat or macerate in balsamic vinegar to use as a sauce on grilled steaks.

Peaches: Juicy peaches are the stars of summer! And they pair perfectly with lots of unexpected ingredients. Some appetizer and meal ideas? Peach salsa over pork chops or pork tenderloin. Sliced peaches wrapped in salty prosciutto. Grilled peaches with mascarpone cheese and honey. Or, keep it simple and add raw peaches to your cheese boards for easy entertaining.

Eggplant: Ripening in July and throughout the season, eggplant is a diverse ingredient I love to cook with. Hearty dishes like eggplant parmesan and eggplant rollatini are ideal for a crowd—especially if you have vegetarians in your family. For a weekday meal, try grilled eggplant and chicken served over arugula and spinach salad.

Bell Peppers: Sliced, stuffed or stir-fried, the opportunities with bell peppers are limitless. Enjoy raw with hummus. Stuff with meat, rice and tomato sauce for a one-pan Mediterranean meal. Cut into matchsticks and add to a veggie and chicken stir fry with brown rice (one of our faves!). Peppers come in fun colors so mix and match them all to add a rainbow to your plates and platters.

Too busy this summer?
Vacation, camp, beach days, work…your schedule is probably jam-packed! Skip the fast food and let us come up with seasonal meal ideas just for you! We’ll keep you healthy and happy with fresh dishes stored in your fridge or packed in a cooler for your travels.

Contact us to get started or to request your summer favorites!

4 Smart Reasons to Shop at Your Local Farmers Market

Some people look forward to baseball in the spring. Others look forward to flowers in bloom. I’m a chef, so naturally I’m ready for farmers market season!

One of the most exciting things about the coming of spring is the re-opening of farmers markets here in Delaware. Your local farmers market is THE place to find that fresh produce you’ve been craving all winter long. Berries, spinach, stone fruit…ah, I can’t wait!

Beyond the food, farmers markets provide so much to the local community. From fair price points to neighborhood gardens and everything in between, there are so many reasons I shop at farmers markets for my family and my clients:

Quality
The best meals start with the best ingredients—and small farmers truly care about reducing waste, eliminating chemicals and treating animals ethically. Sometimes, they can’t afford organic or humane labels, but are every bit as conscientious (if not more) than their industrial counterparts. Talk to your farmers to learn more about their farming practices. They’re always happy to help!

Savings
Did you know that shopping for seasonal food (at the farmers market or grocery store) could actually save you money? This is because in-season ingredients are more abundant. It’s simple supply and demand. The more you have the less you charge. Plus, if your food doesn’t have to go far, purveyors can cut down on travel expenses. This is better for your wallet and the environment.

Community
Local farmers markets often support local communities. At the Southbridge Popup Farmers Market, you’ll find chemical-free and discounted produce. As an added bonus, all proceeds support the market and community garden. Do some research to learn more about giveback campaigns and volunteer opportunities at farms in your area.  

Health
If you stop and think about it, eating seasonal food just makes sense! There’s a reason we naturally crave soups and stews to keep us warm in the winter, just as we crave light salads and fruit in the spring and summer to keep us cool and energized. Eat in accordance with nature and you’ll have all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Ready to start shopping?

Throughout April and May, look for:
• Asparagus
• Artichokes
• Fava beans
• Peas
• Spinach
• Rhubarb
• Radishes
• Any other local favorites!

Don’t have time to get your family to the farmers market? I’ll bring all the fun and seasonal food right to your table with my Delaware-based personal chef services. Contact me, and let’s talk!