Farm to Family Dinner Table: A Farm-Sourced Meal Plan

Trend alert! One Atlanta entrepreneur is part of a national movement to bring back home-cooked meals in an innovative way.
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Enlightened Mealtime

Enlightened Mealtime

Photo by: Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

By sourcing fresh, seasonal produce from local farms paired with chef-driven menus, Atlanta's Garnish & Gather is allowing families to enjoy inventive, homemade meals even in harried, modern times.

Emily Nethero Golub was living a life familiar to many harried citizens of the modern world. She traveled constantly for work, but did her best to eat healthy. On weekends she'd try to hit the farmers' market because local food was important to her.  She subscribed to a CSA, but having the time to cook her farm-fresh bounty was an issue. "I was often too tired to cook. I lost the joy of being able to cook the beautiful, local food I was getting," says Atlanta entrepreneur Golub. She was also occasionally mystified by the fruits and vegetables she found in her produce box, unsure of how to prepare them for the table. Peering into the depths of her CSA box, she often found herself Googling "turnip" or "rutabaga" to figure out how to transform a mystery veg into dinner. 

And so a busy life and hunger often translated to the enlightened but exhausted resident of the 21st century's core dilemma: what to eat?

In the summer of 2013 Golub found her answer to that age-old question when she launched Garnish & Gather, an idea that takes the CSA one step further by giving direction and action to locally-sourced meals. 

The Garnish & Gather concept is a meal subscription plan in which Atlanta chefs work with 20 Atlanta-area farmers (many of them included in this Foxy Farmers gallery) to create a meal in a bag. The meal sourced from local farmers is delivered or offered up at drop-offs around the city. The meal kit generally contains a protein, fresh fruit and vegetables and any necessary seasonings and spices—in other words, a complete dinner and recipe, ready to cook. Tied to what is currently ripe in the fields, meals are by definition seasonal, in the kind of connection to the Earth so many foodies crave. "It can actually be a lot of fun to enjoy what the season has to offer," affirms Golub, whose entrepreneurial spirit was fostered working for her mother's Intimacy chain of bra-fitting boutiques.

The farm-to-home concept has popped up in other national produce-centered meal-kit services like PlatedBlue Apron or Hello Fresh all of which deliver fresh produce, proteins, ingredients and recipes to your doorstep, though none has the same deep local focus that distinguishes Garnish & Gather.

Part of the appeal of such farm-centric meal plans is convenience. Recipes are "approachable for a working weeknight," says Golub.  But there is also a fair amount of fun and conviviality baked into the concept of making a home-cooked meal, minus the stress of planning and shopping. "It's pretty special when you can put a dish on the table that's restaurant quality," says Golub of her concept dependent upon the creativity and vibrancy of the Atlanta chef scene.

Recent Garnish & Gather dishes have included chicken thighs with citrus juniper sauce, honey roasted turnips and sauteed greens; sweet potato and Brussels sprouts hash with rabbit sausage and pecan-ginger brown butter; and green chili and smoked pork stew with fresh lime and warm tortillas. Golub and her chef collaborators often try to incorporate unusual or unfamiliar ingredients, like locally-made kimchi or dandelion greens into the recipes. "I really do feel that part of our mission is to expand their palate," admits Golub.

With all of the work done for you, the customer gets to cook, kick back and reap the rewards of a meal well-served. In the case of Garnish & Gather, subscribers also enjoy a weekday game night. All Garnish & Gather meals come with a Table Topic to ignite discussion. Past topic have included: "If you were going to open a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?" and "What are your favorite smells from childhood?"

In a nutshell says Golub, "we're all about helping people fall in love with dinnertime, by connecting them with an amazing group of farmers." 

"We've heard so many folks say it's the highlight of their week, and that it's bringing their family together."

Interested in seeing what all of the fuss is about? Try this recipe for trout amandine created by Atlanta chef Julia Leroy and featured in the April 2014 Garnish & Gather meal plan.

Trout Amandine With Dandelion Salsa Verde and Braised Turnips

Courtesy of Chef Julia Leroy

Serves: 2

Trout

  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 1 pound trout fillets
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds

Salsa

  • 1 bunch dandelion greens
  • 1 caper berry, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Turnips

  • 1 bunch hakurei turnips, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep Veggies

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the dandelion greens. Large dice turnips.

Cook Dandelion Greens

When water is boiling, add dandelion greens and cook 45 seconds until they wilt and turn bright green. Remove greens from water and rinse in a colander under cold water until cool. Squeeze water from greens and chop finely.

Make Salsa

Chop caper berries and mince shallot. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze half of it into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, dandelion greens, caper berries, shallot, Champagne vinegar, salt and pepper and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Cook Turnips

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in the pot you used for the greens over medium heat. When butter starts to get foamy, add the turnips. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly brown. Chop thyme, mince garlic and dice onion. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and thyme, cover and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, until tender.

Cook Trout and Finish Turnips

In a skillet, heat grape seed oil over medium-high heat. Season trout fillet skin-side-up in the pan and cook 5 minutes per side. Remove fish and keep warm. Add 2 tablespoons butter to pan you used to cook fish and cook 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown. Juice the other half of the lemon and add with red wine vinegar and sliced almonds to butter and toss to combine.

Plate Meal and Enjoy

Place trout on plate, garnished with buttered almonds and salsa, with turnips on the side.

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