Tennessee’s fertile soil, warm climate, and dedicated farmers have made our state a culinary destination. Our restaurants feature special dishes showcasing each chef’s ability to delight diners with produce grown locally and sustainably to such an impressive degree that Tennessee cuisine has long since influenced food trends in surrounding states.
This collection of recipes will allow you, at-home chefs, to do the same. Each recipe focuses on one local produce item that you can grow yourself, find at the farmers market, or pick at U-Pick farms throughout the area. Eating fruits and vegetables is always healthy, of course, but we didn’t limit this collection to perfectly healthy meals. There are salads and baked fries, but there are also desserts and indulgent temptations.
We hope these recipes inspire you to go gather local produce; when you do, you’re supporting the local farms and farmers who are such a vital part of our community in Tennessee all while feeding yourself the very best foods for your health and overall sense of wellbeing.
One last suggestion: try some of these cold recipes for breakfast. You can prepare them the night before, then start your day with a heaping helping of fruits or vegetables rather than grabbing a breakfast sandwich, bagel, or large latte on the way to work. Little healthy tweaks like this will be a great way to add an extra serving or three of produce to your day!
Tennessee residents aren’t limited to frozen peas this time of year; we have access to crisp, fresh peas for much of the season. This fresh salad from Martha Stewart will showcase the sweet, green flavor profile of tender summer peas. Enjoy it as a main course or as a refreshing side with roast lamb or thick portabella burgers.
Sweet potato fries are one of the most popular ways to consume this sweet, starchy tuber. This recipe from the New York Times cooking section will yield perfect fries every time, so you won’t have to worry that your fries will be too soft or too blackened. Look for the freshest sweet potatoes to maximize the brighter notes in your finished fries. This recipe pairs beautifully with burgers and grilled sandwiches, and don’t skimp on presentation—prepare a fresh aioli if you’re able to. We promise you won’t regret it.
One of the most versatile tubers, white potatoes can be prepared in over a thousand ways. However, these simple rosemary roasted potatoes from Ina Garten are all you need when you’re using fresh, local potatoes and rosemary sprigs. Enjoy these on their own or pair them with any savory meal; they’re delicious with just about everything.
Cucumber is delicious sliced on its own, made into simple salty pickles, or delicately folded into a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich. In our opinion, though, you really can’t do better than this elegant tomato cucumber avocado salad. The sweet flavors of these summer fruits and vegetables really pop in this simple recipe from Green Valley Kitchen.
Most “canned pumpkin” in the supermarket isn’t actually pumpkin at all, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say that if you want to make a pumpkin pie that’s TRULY made with pumpkin, you’re probably going to want to wait until you can get your hands on that perfect sugar squash at the market or at the farm. When it’s time, this recipe from All Recipes will help you craft a pie that is sure to impress; just be careful taking it to family gatherings unless you want to be asked to make this every year from now on.
Carrots are delicious when eaten fresh on their own, but if you’re going to cook them, you can’t go wrong with this roasted brown butter carrot recipe with honey and garlic from The Recipe Critic. Although the flavor combination might sound a bit strange, we promise that once you take that first bite, you’ll be a convert.
Why steam broccoli when you can follow this recipe from Bon Appetit and end up with a beautiful spinach and broccoli soup? The notes of garlic and cilantro make this perfect as a side with fajitas. This meal is a great opportunity to gather and enjoy a whole array of local veggies.
Our favorite tomato recipe also gives you the perfect chance to use up your sweet summer peaches while they’re at their peak. Yes, peaches and tomatoes really are delicious together! Try this summer peach tomato salad from My Recipes, and you’re almost sure to agree.
We hope this compilation of recipes is just the beginning of your exploration of exciting ways to prepare local produce. Remember that any farm you visit or farmers market you frequent is sure to connect you with the farmers themselves, and almost all produce farmers are delighted to share their own favorite ways to prepare their specialty crops, so don’t be shy about asking! Bon appetit.