Late October? Local Still Reigns in Kentucky

Campsie Cherry Tomatoes, late October 2010

Campsie Cherry Tomatoes, late October 2010

These cherry tomatoes from the Campsie garden ended up in a Spicy Peppery Cornbread Custard for Monday night's Cornbread Supper. It's late October in Kentucky, and our tomato plants keep surprising us with beautiful fruits. The Gardener's fall garden has more to offer than in any past years: abundant green beans, beets, kales, onions, and baby lettuces so far. The Saturday Lexington Farmers Market still offered astonishing amounts of fresh, rich produce.

Which leads backward one minute. I said yesterday that I did not know whether Giada De Laurentiis used any Kentucky products in her first cooking demonstration on Saturday. I have more information now. Ann Bell Stone, an owner at Elmwood Stock Farm, says Giada De Laurentiis used certified organic Kentucky-grown filets from Lexington Farmers Market in the second demonstration when she made Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds, and Basil.

Theresa Lloyd, event manager at Rupp Arena and a 20-year advocate for local foods, reported she procured the ingredients herself for the celebrity chef demonstrations. Theresa provided this list of local ingredients and sources:

  • Beef ' Kentucky Proud provided by Critchfield Meats
  • Wine ' Lovers Leap Vineyards & Winery
  • Garlic ' Garey Farms from the Lexington Farmer's Market
  • Jalapeños ' from Theresa's backyard
  • Basil ' some from Theresa's backyard, and some from Good Foods Market
  • Rigatoni Pasta ' Lexington Pasta provided it, and GDL had agreed to use it, but there was a mix-up backstage. Intentions were good.

Those backyard jalapeños brought the heat to GDL's Fusilli with Spicy Pesto, which set off some entertaining sparks in Rupp Arena. Wall Street Journal food writer Pervaiz Shallwani recently collected and published 11 new pesto recipes from acclaimed chefs, all worth considering, and each taking about two minutes to prepare. Pestos deliver amazing flavor for minimal time investment.

Here's the pesto the Gardener's cherry tomatoes could have produced:

Cherry Tomatoes + Almonds

Blend 2½ cups cherry tomatoes, a garlic clove, a  half-cup slivered almonds, 12 basil leaves, a pinch crushed red pepper  and a big pinch of salt to a fine purée. While blending, pour in a  half-cup olive oil in a steady stream until pesto emulsifies into a  thick purée. Season.                " chef Lidia Bastianich, "Lidia's Italy" (PBS)

Use it:                Tossed with hot spaghetti

And here's the pesto that most intrigued me:

Pecans + Parsley + Dates

Pulse a half-cup pecans, a half-cup parsley leaves, a  quarter-cup Parmesan, a half-cup pecan oil and a teaspoon of kosher  salt in a food processor until combined, but not totally puréed.  Transfer to bowl. Fold in four chopped dates and two teaspoons balsamic  vinegar.                " chef Alon Shaya, Domenica in New Orleans

Use it:                Spooned over duck, pork or ricotta spread on grilled bread

Both recipes are from Goodbye Basil, Hello Pumpkin Seeds, by Pervaiz Shallwani, The Wall Street Journal.

AsSeedleafer Becca Selfhas been noting for years, we need to get working on scaling up Kentucky-based oils and nuts if we want truly local pestos. In the short run, we already grow many of the ingredients in these elegant, easy recipes.