A “locavore” is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. Along those lines, every month, local chefs welcome Orlando’s locavore, Misty Heath, into their kitchens to break down how to make some of their signature dishes for our readers to make at home.
This column is also featured in our monthly print product, available in restaurants and storefronts across the City Beautiful.
By Misty Heath
This is my favorite time of year in Florida—I count down the weeks and months to slightly cooler weather, dining comfortably outdoors and the return of local produce! Once the temperature hits below 80 degrees, I don my boots and scarves (I gotta take advantage while I can) and go scouring all the local markets to find my week’s veggies, bread, and (if I’m lucky) local cheese and dairy, while snacking on tasty treats, sweets and all things raw honey. It’s in these times, I embrace my food geekiness, and get my creative juices flowing.
Central Florida has a relatively small, yet vibrant local farm community. It takes a bit of research and strategy to hack—yet it’s worth it to get access to amazing gems. This time of year, hearty greens, colorful carrots, stunning radishes top my must-have list—they are sure to wow any holiday table. If you’re lucky, you can savor summer’s last bits of cucumbers, squash, and okra. Even luckier is to find raw milk and cream (don’t be intimidated—it’s AMAZING), gorgeous eggs and always a surprise or two (I’m exploring the creative vegan offerings these days).
Here are a few of my fave local “must check out” vendors from your local Audubon Market:
- Barefoot Farmer/Tomazin Farms: Paul Tomazin has farming in his blood—his great-great-grandfather started their farm in Samsula, near New Smyrna Beach, in 1912. This is a farm that is multi-generational and pays attention to quality. They’ve always farmed their land the “right way”—they were “organic” before it was trendy and they haven’t strayed. They respect the land, nature, yielding quality results.
- New Growth Urban Farm: A suburban collective, 2 families started New Growth in the College Park area looking to provide for their families and extended community with ethically grown produce. One of the growers has deep roots in Orlando’s food scene—Mike Garcia was a chef for Smiling Bison and Farm and Haus.
- Butchershop Baker: I’m OBSESSED with this bread—though I’m partial to sourdough, I’ve tried many and loved every bite!
- Wild Ocean Seafood: I love getting my fish and shellfish from these folks because of their keen focus on sustainability and ethical practices. Take a look at their website, join the weekly list and pre-order your goodies for pick up. Do not skip the fish dip—warm or cold on that Butchershop Baker bread is pure heaven! It’s a perfect starter for any upcoming parties—and won’t break the bank!
Here’s my strategy for getting the most out of local market scouting:
- Do your research and arrive early. The good stuff goes fast.
- Bring cash and your own bags. You will look like a pro and may get better deals.
- Be flexible—supply can be unpredictable. It’s good to have a list; it’s not realistic to expect to cross everything off. If you’re looking for something specific, make arrangements ahead of time.
- Buy at least 1 “unknown treasure”. The fun is sampling something you may not typically pick up, especially if you can’t find at your local grocer.
- Separate greens from veg when you get home. If you don’t plan on using your veggies for a few days, those greens draw moisture from the veg.
This meal will easily serve six and comes together in less than an hour. The trick is using the same oven temp, technique, and overlapping ingredients. These dishes are perfect for brunch or an easy dinner and pairs well with white or light red wine.
Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- 2 bunches baby carrots, greens separated
- 1 stick butter, melted with some herbs thrown in to infuse (try garlic, thyme, rosemary
- Good salt (Maldon brand or a pink Himalayan is great) and pepper
Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Scrub carrots to remove any remaining dirt and hairy bits. No need to peel these babies. Nicely line up your carrots on parchment or a foil-lined baking sheet for super-easy cleanup and brush on a generous amount of butter. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Every 5 minutes or so, re-butter the carrots. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out, Shellac with butter one more time and add a final dusting of salt and pepper.
Market Salad with Roasted Shrimp and Green Goddess Dressing
- 1 pound large shrimp (think about 5 shrimp per person), peeled & deveined
- 3 T olive oil or butter (if roasting carrots, use the same butter—there’ll be plenty for both)
- Salt and pepper
In that same preheated 425-degree oven, take another sheet pan (yes, parchment/foil), and add your peeled shrimp (make sure they are dry). Slather nicely with oil/butter, salt and pepper. Roast 8 minutes, until just barely pink. If smaller shrimp, cook a little less, big ones may need a minute or two more. Remove from oven, squirt with a bit of lemon and adjust seasoning as needed.
Green Goddess Dressing
- 1 cup scallions (white and green parts, 6-7), roughly chopped
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 2 teaspoons anchovies (about 6 filets with some of the anchovy oil)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
In a food processor, add all ingredients except mayo and sour cream. Pulse until all the ingredients are chopped finely. Add in mayo and sour cream, blend until incorporated. Adjust seasoning—this will keep in a jar for 5 days.
Use fun market finds for your base of greens; I love arugula, baby pea tendrils, kale. Arrange simply on a platter. Add on your favorite ingredients (it’s a good time to clean out the fridge)—tomatoes, avocado, orange segments, radishes, carrots, toasted nuts—any of it will work. Right before serving, lightly drizzle dressing and arrange shrimp.
Herbed Goat Cheese Toast
- 1 small log goat cheese, room temperature
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of your favorite herbs, chopped (whatever you have on hand—parsley, basil, lemon zest—anything aromatic)
- Salt & pepper
Mix up in a bowl and slather on everything or use as a great dip for raw veggies.
Toast & Assembly:
In the same 425-degree oven, put generous slices of bread on parchment/foil. Drizzle with olive oil (or same carrot butter). Toast 6-8 min until lightly brown. Allow to cool slightly. To assemble, layer with goat cheese, a pretty veggie (daikon radish shown), micro greens, honey drizzle, sea salt, pepper or just about anything your heart desires.