Local chefs are whipping up delicious foods from homegrown harvests
Centro assistant chef Michael Oozoonian with Farmer Phil Jones. Photo by Tory Germann.
Howl is helping you make the most of the season’s bounty. Our Farm to Fork locavore series follows Greater Lowell chefs to area farms, farmers markets, roadside stands and gardens for delicious ideas that go from land — or sea — and straight to your dinner table.
Chefs like Michael Oozoonian, of Centro Restaurant in downtown Lowell, have a growing conviction: By choosing to showcase locally, sustainably and organically grown food, they have the power to change the way we eat — maybe even change the world, by doing things like reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as pesticide and fertilizer use and improving consumers’ health.
This week, Howl visits Centro’s assistant chef at Jone’s Farm, 246 Acton Road in Chelmsford, and learns how to smoke feta on the grill for a farm-fresh watermelon and arugula salad topped with grilled New England shrimp.
Growing Super Food
For farmer Phil Jones, the fresh food movement is a labor of love.
Focusing on new, bio-nutrient dense crops — vegetables with a higher ratio of nutrients to calories and harvested with a method that replaces nutrients taken out of the soil in traditional farming — Jones’ goal is to provide quality produce and educate the public on food that’s not only more nutritious, but delicious to eat.
“It’s all about the relationship plants have with the soil,” says Jones, whose technique allows him to grow some seasonal crops well into the winter. “There are ways to build the battery of the soil and stimulate its digestive process to guarantee maximum, effective crop growth. Plants are also better equipped to fend off pests — I don’t use chemical pesticides — and they’re more packed with flavor and greater levels of vitamins.”
For chefs like Oozoonian who enjoy using the freshest ingredients in cooking, Jones’ bounty offers a rich variety that dictates “what you’re going to do in the kitchen.”
“We’re in a beautiful season,” he says. “Food like this really makes you proud of what you’re putting on the plate.”
Now You’re Cooking:
• Small 1/4 block of feta
• Wood chips of choice (we used apple wood chips)
• Soak chips in water over night or at least up to three hours prior to smoking (when placed on the grill, water is released
in the form of steam, adding a nice rich flavor to meats, fish and cheese)
• Place foil on the grill with soaked chips on top
• When a good smoke begins, use a square colander (similar to the pan in video), place in cheese and seal with foil, making a two-inch slit in foil
• Smoke on medium high heat for four minutes
• Medium or large shrimp
• 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup lemons or lime juice
• Seasoning of choice (garlic, cayenne, parsley, black pepper or any other favorite)
Baste shrimp with oil and lemon/lime juice and add seasoning. Grill for four minutes, two minutes on each side. For large shrimp, three to four minutes. For jumbo shrimp, about five minutes.
Add farm fresh watermelon, arugula, kalamata olives, tomato, cucumber and dressing of choice.
Take the Eat Local Challenge
Got a favorite dish fresh from the farm or garden? Send Howl your recipe, a picture of the dish and the name of your favorite farm, farm stand, farmers market or community garden. We’ll post your recommendation and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a gift certificate for two at Fuse Bistro, 45 Palmer St., Lowell.
To learn more about Jone’s Farm click here. You can also sample Farmer Phil’s fresh produce at the Lowell Farmer’s Market every Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.