Today's lunch was inspired by locally grown and prepared ingredients as well as my good friend and colleague, Kate Geagan. She is the author of the much anticipated upcoming book, Go Green, Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low-Carbon Diet, and in it she encourages a diet heavy on local foods, while maximizing plants.
My wonderful next-door neighbor left me a voicemail a couple of weeks ago, letting me know that she was going away for 3 weeks and to please help myself to her herb garden. Lucky me! This morning I snipped off several basil plants, returned to my kitchen, and got to work. I made 2 pestos. The first was a traditional green pesto with a lot of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper. The second was a roasted red pepper pesto, with olive oil, a little of the basil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a couple spoonfuls of soy cream cheese to thicken (walnuts would have been nice too, but I wanted a nut-free rendition for my nut-allergic DS). I put the pestos in the fridge and headed to the farmer's market with my DH, DS, and MIL.
A couple of hours later I had in hand a loaf of freshly baked whole grain bread from the Montclair Bread Company (which has a booth at the Market--check out their web site here), a bunch of arugula from local (and organic) farmer John Krueger, and a locally grown fat Jersey tomato. I also had 2 ripe avocados (the only non-local ingredient). After slicing the bread, I spread one of each pesto on each of the 2 slices. I then piled on sliced avocado, sliced tomato, and fresh arugula. A sandwich from heaven. My MIL loved it (I love cooking for her) -- she even appreciated how healthy it was. For dessert? Locally grown organic peaches from the Market.
From a nutritional perspective, this sandwich is bursting with goodies. The monounsaturated fats from the avocado and olive oil (in the pestos), the calcium and antioxidants from the arugula and basil (whose fat-soluble nutrients are more bioavailable due to the fats present), the lycopene from the tomatoes, and the trace minerals and fiber from the whole grain bread all make this sandwich a nutritional superstar. And need I say, it was really delicious.
Incidentally, on the way home from the Farmer's Market, we passed a performer on Church Street who I thought was exceptionally talented. His name is Joel Jelinski, and I couldn't help but buy his CD. He's a cool guy too, gave my little guy a high-5 and let him get right up in his face to check out his guitar. Maybe we'll see him on the next American Idol.