For over a year, my husband and I have subscribed to Blue Apron, the biggest name in delivery meal kits. I loved that the meals from Blue Apron included so many fresh, healthy ingredients, like kale and rainbow chard, and I loved that the box delivered to my house saved me a trip to the grocery store. In addition, Blue Apron also sent step-by-step recipes for cooking the food so I didn’t even have to plan my meals out.
Blue Apron has downsides, however: they touted ingredients sourced from local vendors, but a lot of the ingredients undoubtedly came from across the country (like avocados, definitely not grown in New England). All of the ingredients were individually packaged in plastic, so the boxes left me feeling bad about waste. I enjoyed learning to “cook-by-numbers” from the meal kits, but I lamented the compromises I had to make.
A few months ago I was talking to my mother about my dilemma, knowing that there had to be a better solution. Farmers markets seemed like the obvious solution, but I’d still have to spend time shopping and then creating the recipes. I’m not a chef and I’m not a farmer, and I was intimidated. My mom said to me, “It will only be hard for the first year. After that, the growing season will start over and you’ll have all of the recipes that you used from the year before.” I knew right then that I was all-in.
I live in Natick, MA, and am lucky to have a farmers market a few miles from my house. Wanting to use only locally sourced ingredients, I ventured over to the Natick Farmers Market. Immediately, my eyes landed on the largest bunch of kale that I’d ever seen. I was surprised to see the leafy greens; I’d assumed that the only vegetables available would be root vegetables stored in the farm cellar since last fall. The woman at the table explained to me that they grow kale all year round. I quickly handed over $3 before anyone else could snatch up this leafy bouquet, and I continued on my mission of finding ingredients for my locally sourced meal.
That afternoon I set out all of the ingredients that I had bought and realized that I’d forgotten to buy garlic. I love cooking with garlic so I don’t know how I had managed to forget it. The market had closed by the time I realized my mistake, and it’s only open one day a week. Two options: make the meal without garlic or buy a bulb from the grocery store a few streets away. And so, for my very first recipe for The Clean Food Club, I am presenting you with a dish that is completely local except for the garlic. Next week, I’ll make sure to add “garlic” to my shopping list.
In my basket:
1 loaf Olive Rosemary bread (from Birchtree Bread Co, Worcester MA)
1 bone-in Chicken breast (from Chestnut Farms, Hardwick MA)
1 bunch Asparagus (from Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm, Millis MA)
1 lb. small Potatoes (from Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm, Millis MA)
1 lb. Red Onions (from Freitas Farms, Middleborough MA)
1 bunch Kale (from Oakdale Farms, Rehoboth MA)
1 ball fresh Mozzarella cheese (from Narragansett Creamery, Providence RI)
From the pantry:
4 cloves Garlic
1 cup Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chicken, Kale and Mozzarella on Olive Rosemary bread with Asparagus, Potatoes and Onions
Makes five servings
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Wash and halve potatoes. Wash and snap the hard ends off the stalks of asparagus. Tear the leaves of kale off of the center stems, wash thoroughly. Mince garlic. Quarter the onions. Slice the mozzarella into ¼ inch rounds.
- Place minced garlic and olive oil in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds.
- Place potatoes, onions and chicken breast in a baking dish. Baste with ½ cup of the infused olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes (ask your meat vendor what the internal temperature should be when done, use meat thermometer to check).
- When the chicken has about 15 minutes left, slice the loaf into two pieces per person. Brush each slice on one side with the infused olive oil.
- Place two slices of mozzarella on one piece of bread on each plate. Add as many pieces of kale as you want. Set aside.
- Place remaining infused olive oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until asparagus is bright green. Transfer to a serving dish.
- When chicken, onions and potatoes are done, transfer potatoes and onions to a serving dish.
- Slice chicken breast. Add two slices of chicken on top of the mozzarella and kale sandwiches. Serve with potatoes, onions and asparagus. Enjoy!
Leftovers? When I shop at farmers markets, I buy enough food for the week. My husband and I won’t eat a whole chicken breast or all of those veggies in one meal, so I’m going to put all of the leftovers into containers and refrigerate. Bread freezes well, so keep the leftovers in your freezer for a future meal. Also, if you compost, you can toss in the asparagus and kale ends. I don’t compost but it’s something that I would love to do; it’s a great way to cut down on your food waste.
Alice Kathryn Richardson is a new media photojournalist based in Boston, MA. She created The Clean Food Club on May 1, 2016, and previously spent two years working on Deserts in the District, a series of short-form documentaries exploring food access and hunger in Washington, DC. Follow her on Twitter @AKR_Pictures.