Local Eats Project

Today is National Food Day! Hooray! In honor of this day, I’m launching a new project, the Local Eats Project.

Recently I learned that less than 1% of all food purchased in the U.S. comes from famers markets. I want to boost that number! This is the BEST quality food available and too many people are missing out. Food from farmers markets is far more nutritious – for our bodies, our minds, our wallets, our environment, our economies and our consciousness.

The Local Eats Project works like this: Once per month I will cook one meal made from 100% local foods, including fat/oil and as many fresh herbs and spices too.

I will share the recipe here on Sparkle Kitchen to keep me accountable and to show how simple it is to create a fabulous meal from seasonal ingredients.

These are the ground rules:

  • Cook one meal per month using only local, seasonal ingredients. 
  • Support local farmers by purchasing directly from them at famers markets.
  • Only use vegetables, meats, eggs, and fruits sold at local farmers market.
  • Salt, spices and fat/oil are the exception and can be purchased elsewhere. (Bonus points if these are local too, like lard, suet and schmaltz.)
  • Share it! Post the recipe, photos and cost of your meal on your website or any social media site and share the love of local food. #localeatsproject

That’s it!

Are you up for the challenge? 

Click here for all the Local Eats Project recipes.

AND if you need more convincing for why to eat and buy local, read my article here.

Local Eats Project


Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Pick up a tomato and bite right into it. If the juices drip down to your elbows then you know you have a good one. I once passed a road side farm stand in Arkansas that read, “elbow licking good!” I pulled over and bought two bags.

Now that I’m in Brooklyn, I’m tasting the bounty of the Northeast. And I must say the tomatoes up here are just as flavor-packed as the Southern ones. The colorful heirloom variety are my favorite and I tend to get overzealous when I see beautiful produce. That’s why I came home with over three pounds of tomatoes.

Typically I just buy things based on their aesthetics and find out how to prepare them later. This time though I actually had a plan. My husband has been dreaming of homemade salsa and I wanted to try a new variation. I also wanted to prolong the shelf life by roasting the vegetables first. This recipe is heavy on the garlic so feel free to tone it down if it’s not your thing.

Tomatoes contain carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These act as antioxidants to help protect your cells. In order to be properly absorbed in the body though they must be consumed with fat in your diet. Add some good olive oil to whatever meal you’re enjoying with the salsa. In my attempt to minimize chip intake, I reach for zucchini and pepper slices to satisfy crunch cravings then drizzle olive oil on top of the salsa.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Makes about 2 cups.

1 lb variety of heirloom tomatoes – cut in half
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 medium jalapeño pepper – sliced in half
4 medium cloves garlic – peeled
1 medium red onion – peeled and quartered
1/3 cup loosely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice or 1/2 a lime

►Preheat broiler. Line a large rimmed backing sheet with aluminum foil. Place all tomatoes skin side down on the pan. Sprinkle salt over the tomatoes. Add the jalapeño, garlic and onion to the pan and place in broiler for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to blacken. Remove from the oven and let cool for ten minutes.

►Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño. Place tomatoes, jalapeño, garlic and onion in a food processor. Process for 1 minute until all is finely chopped. Add in the cilantro and lime juice, pulsing a few times to combine.

►Store in a glass jar for up to one week.

Summer Vegetable Curry

Summer Vegetable Curry

I’m a new member of the Park Slope Food Coop. The first member-owned grocery store of its kind in the US, focusing on sustainably produced and locally sourced foods. Under one roof you can find vegetables just pulled from the ground by a farm less than 100 miles away, cartons of eggs with handwritten labels, locally produced nut cheeses, spices lovingly scooped into individual packages by your neighbors, and pickled garlic scapes made in a shop down the block. It’s my latest obsession. I spend any free moment casually browsing the shelves for inspiration. Which explains the abundance of vegetables in my fridge. Every time I open the door their gorgeous colors stare back at me, begging to be cooked into a delicious meal. Curry time.

Curry was brought into my life by a good friend who showed me a thing or two in the kitchen. I learned the secret is in the homemade spice mix. That curry in a jar simply will not do. Trust me. Make your own and you’ll never reach for the pre-mix again.

Summer Vegetable Curry

Makes 4 servings.

2 tbsp lard
1 red onion – chopped
1 white onion – chopped
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger – chopped
1 orange bell pepper – sliced
2 large carrots – chopped
3 cups summer squash – any variety
1 large sweet potato – cubed
2 cups water
1 cup beef stock
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
juice of 1/2 a lime

Curry Powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt

Ground Beef
1 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

►Combine all spices for curry powder in a bowl. Set aside.

►Put bell pepper, squash, carrots and sweet potato in a large mixing bowl. Coat with ½ of the curry powder. Set aside.

►Melt lard in a large, heavy pot over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and ginger, cooking for two minutes until browned. Throw in the vegetable curry mix and stir until well incorporated.

►Once the vegetables are well sautéed, about five minutes, add in the stock, water, remaining curry powder and lime juice. Lower the heat to medium low and cover for 15 minutes.

►While the curry is cooking, prepare the ground beef. Mix the beef, garlic, paprika and salt together in a bowl. Pour into a frying pan over medium high heat. Let brown on one side for five minutes then flip and brown on the other side for another five minutes. Cook until the beef is an even golden brown. 

►Stir the cilantro and mint into the curry vegetables. Let cook for five more minutes uncovered. 

►Ladle into bowls and top with ground beef. You can also serve with rice or mashed cauliflower.