Eating seasonally has many health, culinary, and environmental benefits. Produce that is harvested at peak ripeness during the season is more flavorful, vibrant, and nutrient-dense. Because the produce doesn’t have to travel far, it’s also a more sustainable way to eat. For chefs, seasonal ingredients are not only more flavorful, but easily accessible because there is a more abundant supply. Cooking seasonally is also a way to celebrate where you live and the local cuisine.
Territory chefs develop seasonal meals by selecting vegetables, fruits, and fresh herbs that will peak in the upcoming months. They then build cohesive meal concepts around the seasonal items. Some of Territory’s chef partners visit local farmer’s markets to draw inspiration. Los Angeles Chef Terri’s spring and summer meals are inspired by ingredients she found at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
Other chefs draw inspiration from more global seasonal flavors. “My inspiration was to come up with dishes that represent spring’s welcome and how it is celebrated with different ingredients around the world,” said Territory Chef Dean in Los Angeles.
In DC, Chef Rachelle focused on preparing spring ingredients in a way that elevates the visual aspect of her dishes. “We are very excited to add some elements of texture and color variety to our offerings, as well as some fun and playful preparations for the spring and summer,” she said.
Many Territory chefs try to capture the energy and memories of changing seasons in their dishes. According to Chef Tro, “Being from Los Angeles, when I think of spring, I think of bright, sunny clear skies and refreshing air, food, and a rejuvenation if you will. I think a seasonal vegetable quinoa does just that, with the bright flavors of a lemon chicken, is exactly what I want to eat on a spring afternoon!”
Key seasonal ingredients that our chefs chose to feature in their spring/summer meals this year include:
- Radishes: Our chefs chose radishes for their mild flavor, bright colors, and versatility. There are dishes with crunchy fresh radish slices, pickled watermelon radish chutney, and roasted red radish halves. Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C and fiber.
- Rainbow Carrots: Our chefs chose rainbow carrots mainly because they are eye-catching and maintain a nice texture when grilled. Rainbow carrots are high in antioxidants due to their intense coloring.
- Peas: Peas is a broad category, and the chefs have chosen to use pea tendrils, snow peas, snap peas, and green peas. They add a beautiful pop of green color as well as a crunchy texture in stir-fries, pasta dishes and as garnishes. Snow and snap peas are a good source of fiber, while green peas are a good plant-based protein source.
- Arugula: Our chefs chose to use arugula because its hearty, flavorful, and a token of spring. Arugula is packed with plant nutrients.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Our chefs chose to use cherry tomatoes for their burst of color, juicy texture and delicious flavor. Cherry tomatoes are used fresh in salads, sauteed in pasta dishes, and charred alongside steak. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which protects the skin against sun damage in summer months.
- Asparagus: Our chefs chose to use asparagus because the dark green stalks are a signature of summer and can be used in a variety of ways. Asparagus is grilled, sauteed, roasted or used fresh. It’s high in Vitamin K and folate, but very low in calories.
- Summer squash: Our chefs chose to use both zucchini and yellow squash because of their versatility and low carb content. Chefs grill, saute, bake, and spiralize these vegetables. Summer squash is a good source of Vitamin C.
- Basil: Our chefs choose basil because it is aromatic, deeply flavorful, and dark green. Chefs blend fresh basil into pesto, tomato sauces, stir-fries, salads or use it as a fresh garnish. Basil is very anti-inflammatory.