Spring’s Bounty of Fresh, Local Vegetables and Fruits

As winter’s grasp eases and the temperatures begin to rise, the availability of locally sourced food increases, expanding menus and creativity in the kitchen.  We know this is an incredibly exciting time of the year for us—as it is for other chefs and avid home cooks.

From left to right: Inner Faith Food Shuttle Farm Manager Kay Coleman, NC Regrown Farmer Jesse Crouch, Incubator Farmer Maria from LuLu's Farm, Lucky 32 Executive Chef Russell Shinn, and Black Hat Jonny Hazel.
From left to right: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm Manager Kay Coleman, Incubator Farmer Jesse Crouch of NC Regrown, Incubator Farmer Maria of LuLu’s Farm, Lucky 32  Chefs.

For months now, farmers markets and “local availability lists” have suffered from the annual winter slump. Offerings have primarily consisted of turnips, mustard greens and kale greens, alongside year-round collards, sweet potatoes and peanuts.  While hearty root vegetables and greens are a staple of Southern cuisine, our locally sourced, seasonally rotating menu at Lucky’s gets a boost when spring fruits and vegetables begin to appear. Put it this way: Creating menus with winter produce is fun, kind of like like driving a Model T … but spring produce season is a blast, more like driving a Ferrari!

A few weeks ago, as we perused the rows of radishes and asparagus at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm in Cary, we started to get excited about the possibilities to come.  We picked a crisp, green spear right out of the earth, dusted it off on a pant leg and eagerly bit into the freshest produce possible. Our creativity was recharged instantly, and ideas for new menu items flashed through our minds.

Rows of radishes and okra from NC Regrown
Rows of radishes and okra from NC Regrown

We got even more excited when Jesse Crouch and his brother Dustin (both incubator farmers at the IFFS farm and owners of NC Regrown Farm) told us they had just planted rows of okra alongside their colorful radishes.  Other IFFS farmers are planting broccoli, cabbages, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, red and golden beets and sugar snap peas to be ready in a few weeks. And on the horizon, we can expect to see more local fruits taking center stage, from watermelons and cantaloupes to peaches, plums and berries. Oh, the possibilities!

Jesse Crouch from NC Regrown, with radishes picked for Lucky 32
Jesse Crouch from NC Regrown, with radishes picked for Lucky 32

All of these colorful and delicious selections definitely will make it onto our menu, helping us maintain our 10% NC Promise: All Quaintance-Weaver restaurants promise to source, at minimum, 10% of their food purchases from local farms and farmers. This program is designed to give back to the community that allows our places to thrive.

We just can’t wait for that okra – and those plums – to be ready!

Closeup of an okra seedling
Closeup of an okra seedling

Enjoy the same fresh, local vegetables that we offer by picking some up from our Veggie Cart on your way out! Our carts offer everything from greens, to potatoes, to honey! They’re always parked either on our front sidewalk or in our entry way, and operate by an honor system for payment. Bon appetit!

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:https://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

Posted May 2015

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