Eating locally is really rewarding but it can be challenging. That is, only as challenging as you want to make it. And such is life. My biggest lesson, while trying to make an Easter dinner made entirely from ingredients locally grown or caught was, if you can grow your own herbs and vegetables in a garden space (it can be small!) do it! You can save yourself a lot of money and when you grocery shop all you have to do is walk out to your garden. And who wouldn't want to do that!? My other big lesson was, be flexible, often times you can buy what it is you have on your grocery list but, more than not, if you visit your grocery store you will have trouble finding Washington grown carrots or fresh herbs at the local farmers market in early April. Therefore, you might have to improvise.
Everything I bought for our meal was grown in Washington with a few exceptions. I'll take you through each menu item. First, I bought leeks at the farmer's market grown in a community garden in Tacoma. The leeks were used to make a creamy leek sauce that paired very well with the salmon. In the sauce I used chives grown in my Dad's garden in Gig Harbor. The leeks were simmered in butter then dry white wine. Some cream was mixed in then I added the fresh chives. I pureed the mixture in a food processor until smooth, added chicken broth to thin it out and salt and pepper to taste. For the main course, I bought fresh King Salmon at a fish stand in Pike Place Market caught in the Columbia River. It was grilled on the BBQ to perfection and was rich and fall apart tender. My sides included roasted potatoes bought at Metro Market in Tacoma, a mixed herb salad with a red wine vinaigrette, and sauteed parsnips with raw local honey.
The potatoes were grown in Washington. I tossed them with finely chopped lemon thyme from my Dad's garden and garlic from Scappoose, Oregon, before roasting. The herbs for the salad were also purchased at Metro Market and were grown in Duvall, Washington. I mixed basil, watercress (the only item purchased from California!), italian flat leaf parsley, and tarragon to make the salad. I thinly sliced a red onion (grown in Tacoma and bought at the farmers market) and tossed it with the herbs. The vinaigrette was very simple; red wine vinegar, honey, salt, cracked pepper and olive oil. The salad was amazing. I highly recommend trying a fresh herb salad, it is packed full of flavor and it very much compliments the fish and cleanses the palette after each bite. The parsnips were also purchased at the Tacoma farmers market (an improvisation from my original plan- carrots), sauteed in olive oil and butter, some chicken broth and honey. When the liquid evaporated and the parsnips were tender, the sugars left over caramelized around each parsnip leaving them buttery, sweet, and delicious!
This meal was a fun challenge to plan and put together. It was a pleasure to eat and everyone at the table loved hearing the individual stories about each of the ingredients, where they grew and where I bought them. Preparing this meal has inspired me not only to continually challenge myself to eat this way, but to do it in a way that is sustainable to my budget (thus my emphasis to start growing my own food! Especially herbs as I use herbs in just about everything).