Cooking with All Native Ingredients: 5 Recipes

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By Ada Claire

strawberries

I’ve been focusing lately on trying to eat in-season, local foods. They’re cheaper, more plentiful, often more locally produced, and better for the local economy. This has led me on a journey of farmers market shopping sprees, baking my own breads, and canning my own jams amongst other efforts to keep the origins of the food I eat as close to my own back yard as possible year round. It occurred to me recently (what with the fad of the “paleo diet” coming into the spotlight) to take that idea of “local eating” one step further, by researching foods whose origins trace back to the Americas. Thus, I’ve begun to construct recipes which use all foods naturally occurring in the Americas. This stuff which is truly local, good for the environment, healthy as can be, and easy to access at most of your nearby markets. All recipes listed here are also dairy free. Although none of these are strictly traditional recipes, all of the ingredients listed originated in the Americas and are sure to combine into a winning native feast for your friends or family.

1. Fresh Fruit Salad
This recipe makes 10 servings.

Ingredients
½ fresh pineapple (or 1 portion canned)
4 plums, pitted and chopped (or one portion canned)
1 pint strawberries, rinsed, chopped, and drained
1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

Instructions
Chop pineapples, strawberries, and plums (if using fresh, not canned ingredients). Add pineapple, blueberries, plums, and strawberries to a large bowl. Gently mix all fruit together and serve.

2. Spicy Duck and Squash Soup
This recipe makes 6 servings.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons sunflower seed oil
100 g chives, trimmed, chopped and rinsed
1 fresh chili pepper, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, (1 small to medium), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage, or 2 teaspoons dried sage
1 pound duck cutlets, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions
Heat sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Add chives and chili pepper; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth, squash, and sage; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add duck and corn; return to a simmer and cook until the duck is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper. Season with salt.

3. Baked Tomatoes, Squash, and Sweet Potatoes
This recipe makes 8 servings.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus more for drizzling
2 small tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium sweet potato, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon fresh sage
½ cup pecans, chopped

Instructions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat sunflower oil over medium and fry chopped pecans until lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Overlap tomato, squash, and sweet potato in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.. Season with salt, sprinkle with sage and pecans, and drizzle with more oil. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 30 minutes more.

4. Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix
This recipe makes 6 servings.

Ingredients
2 cups raw pecans
½ cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons raw honey
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat the broiler. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pecans, pumpkin and chia seeds, sunflower oil, honey, and salt. Stir until the nuts are coated in the honey and oil. Arrange the nut mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast under the broiler until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Redistribute and return to the broiler for another minute. Cool on the sheet until the honey has begun to set, 5 minutes. Stir once to make sure all the honey stick to the nuts and not the parchment. Allow to cool completely. Toss the cooled nuts with the cranberries and chocolate chips.

5. Turkey Avocado Arepas
This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
For the arepas:
1 cup pre-cooked cornmeal
1 cup hot water (not boiling)
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 tsp sunflower oil
For the filling:
1 turkey breast, pre-cooked and shredded
1 can lima beans
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 avocado

Instructions

To make the arepas:
Mix together the hot water, salt & sunflower oil. Combine the liquid with the pre-cooked cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then knead until combined for 3-5 minutes. Split the mixture into 4 even sized balls then flatten into patties. Put a pan on the stove over medium/high heat, coat with oil, and place arepas into the pan. After 2-3 minutes, flip the arepas over. After 2-3 more minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, flipping them every couple minutes or so until a hollow sound is made when tapped.

To make the filling:
Pour the can of lima beans into a pan over medium-high heat, heat until liquid is gone. Set aside. Warm up pre-cooked and shredded turkey, set aside. Slice avocado. Assemble fillings inside arepas as desired.