In the world of gastronomy, there are chefs who transcend the boundaries of traditional cooking, creating culinary masterpieces that not only are highly seasonal but also elevate the rewards of regenerative farming. One such chef is Jamie Simpson, the Executive Chef Liaison of The Chef’s Garden, whose passion for sustainable agriculture has reshaped the way we perceive and remember our meals.
The importance of regenerative farming
For Chef Jamie, whose goal is to promote and grow a more sustainable model in foodservice, the journey begins with the soil. The South Carolina native believes that the foundation of exceptional ingredients lie in the quality of the soil in which they are grown, and regenerative farming practices are at the heart of his culinary philosophy. “Using regeneratively farmed produce is not just about cooking — it’s a commitment to the planet and future generations. It’s about understanding that the soil is a living, breathing entity that deserves our respect,” Chef Jamie says.
When you start with ingredients that are grown in harmony with nature, you’re setting the stage for a truly remarkable dining experience. If you change nothing in your recipe except the quality of the ingredients used, your recipe will improve. Vegetables in season are reliably better quality, and reliably better for you. Jamie takes this a step further and designs dishes around what is available on the farm that day. His commitment to micro seasonal cooking opens the door for him to be more creative while respecting the plants and maintaining minimal waste policies.
This holiday season, take a page from Chef Jamie’s cookbook and make your meals sustainable by using “every part of the plant, from root to tip.” Here are 10 ways to make vegetables the star of your holiday meals.
1. Celery Root Mash with Brown Butter and Sage: Improve traditional mashed potatoes with celery root and add depth with brown butter and baked herbs.
2. Exotic Kale and Pomegranate Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette: Elevate your salad game by combining nutrient-packed old world kale varieties with the burst of flavor from pomegranate seeds, topped with a refreshing vinaigrette of blood orange, ginger, and olive oil.
3. Whole Roasted Stalk of Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecan Tahini: Move over turkey. This show stopper is taking center stage.
4. Crispy Smashed Jerusalem Artichoke with Rosemary Salt: Put a twist on traditional tostones by smashing and frying Jerusalem artichokes until crispy, then season with fragrant herb infused salts.
5. Albino Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine: Impress your guests with a visually stunning beet and cheese terrine — a harmonious blend of stark white earthy beets and creamy white goat cheese.
6. Split Roasted Butternut Squash with Honeycomb Candy, Apple Cider Reduction, and Crispy Herbs: This will be your new holiday tradition for years to come. Its a lot of fun to make and a lot more fun to eat.
7. Blistered Turnips with Honey and Marcona Almond: Give turnips a chance with high heat in a cast iron pan or grill. Then glaze them with honey and finish with crushed almonds.
8. Carrot Pot Roast: These carrots are treated just like moms pot roast. Seared and drowned in red wine with demi-glace then finished with thyme and served with mashed potatoes. There’s not a better carrot this holiday season.
9. Heirloom Pumpkin Soup served in its own skin: There are few things as impressive as a beautiful heirloom pumpkin in the center of the table filled with a soup of its own flesh. It’s primal and extravagant at the same time.
10. Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin: Serve up a spectrum of colors and flavors with chef’s mixed root vegetable tarte tatin. Carrots, beets, and parsnips roasted in a caramel of sherry, balsamic, and honey under a classically French pâte brisée pastry crust with gruyere cheese. This 11-inch tart is perfect for people who like a light finish to a big meal.
As you embark on your holiday cooking adventure, consider incorporating these ideas to make vegetables the true star of your holiday season. Let the dynamic flavors of vegetables contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future.