As cooling weather falls upon us each October in Champaign-Urbana, I am always stunned by the bounty of local foods harvested this month. October straddles the last of summery heat-loving foods like our favorite nightshades all the while welcoming the harvest of cool-loving salad mixes, brassicas, and storage crops that sweeten with the brisk temperatures. It's hard to describe the bittersweet feeling I have when eating the season's first apple while hoarding the last of the tomatoes in the same sitting. I tend to view October has the last hurrah before settling into hybernation mode. This month requires so much from farmers where they balance collecting the foods coming out of the ground, ensuring the harvest gets to the customers, and also hoping for a high sales period that will help cushion the slower winter months and finanically bolster the following spring season. I get wide-eyed when I try to fathom how difficult this particular season has been for folks farming through COVID. One positive thing we can do as a show of camaraderie is to feature as many local foods in our home cooked meals. Below, I share with you how you can make delicious grain bowl meals to incorporate all of the local foods that are sitting in your fridge.
Grain bowls are super delicious, versatile well-balanced meals that can be built based on whatever you have in the fridge with whatever flavors you are craving. Just mix and match! All you need is veggies, greens, a grain, a protein, and a sauce or dressing! Want a Mediterranean grain bowl with olives, feta, peppers, lemon chicken, bulgur, and tahini dressing? Or a sushi grain bowl with salmon, sticky rice, nori, green onions, carrots, radishes, and a teriyaki-soy sauce? What about one with rice, beans, cabbage, avocado, skirt steak, cilantro, and salad mix? I've created two hyper-local grain bowls recipes to get you started including a Local Butternut Squash Pecan Goat Cheese Wild Rice Grain Bowl and a Local Kielbasa Carrot Celery Wheatberry Grain Bowl. They both are so tasty and comforting to eat when the nights are getting longer, plus they are almost entirely local!
Curious how I came up with my recipes? Try using my Fool-proof Grain Bowl Builder you can build you own bowl using your favorite ingredients:
Protein (choose 1)
Vegetables (choose 3-4)
Fresh Herbs (choose 1-2)
Other spice blend
Grain (choose 1)
Legume (optional choose 1)
Sauce (choose 1)
Simple Olive Oil & Vinegar
Hope this gives you inspiration for building your own delicious and nutrient dense grain bowl. Feel free to use the Grain Bowl Builder for future times when you don't know what to make for dinner. Remember to support your local farmers now during COVID, and always! See you next time.