Green City Market’s locavore challenge has once again inspired me to try new dishes with my favorite local ingredients. This year, in the interest of frugal locavorism I feasted on lots of rustic, hearty fare like bean salad with black turtle beans from Breslin Farms, a big pot of simple cauliflower soup and poached Kinnikinnick eggs on Crumb toast. But, the winner of the week was discovered when I was forced to rustle up dinner with little more than the last of my juicy overripe tomatoes and a heel of bread. This inexpensive dish was a real hit. It was inspired by a recipe in ‘Cold Weather Cooking’ by Sarah Leah Chase.

Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
2 cups diced stale crusty bread
3-4 cups diced juicy tomatoes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional – 1 garlic clove & 1 sprig of thyme or basil

-First I fried 2 cups of stale diced bread cubes in a little Wisconsin sunflower oil.
-Once the cubes were browned I added a few cups of diced juicy tomatoes.
-I have some thyme growing in a pot at home and had a garlic clove on hand so they were chopped and added to the pan at this point along with a some salt and pepper. That said, with flavorsome local tomatoes you can skip the garlic and herbs and still enjoy a knockout result.
-I cooked the tomato and bread mixture for 5 minutes and then poured it into a shallow baking dish and baked it for 30min until the top was brown and the juicy tomatoes had bubbled up nicely.
The end result was delicious served warm alongside a small mixed leaf salad.

The cauliflower soup was just as simple and will become a locavore staple of mine beyond the challenge. This recipe is lightly adapted from Paul Bertolli’s ‘Cooking by Hand’.

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
5 1/2 cups water, divided
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat without letting it brown for 15 minutes.
-Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.
-Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. (I used an immersion blender instead). -Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.
-Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

I hope you’ve also discovered some delicious new staples this week and enjoyed your own frugal locavore success stories!


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