Fresh asparagus in spring, orchard ripened peaches in summer, tomatoes fresh off the vine… Nothing makes a meal easier to prepare and more delightful to eat than using fresh local, seasonal ingredients. Cooking with seasonal produce brings even simple Ottawa French cuisine to the next level allowing the produce to lead the flavour profile with the addition of a few complementary ingredients.
At MēNa they pride themselves on using only the best ingredients to create sumptuous dishes and ensure their customers get a mouthful of delectable flavour in every bite. Inspiration to create dishes utilizing the best seasonal produce available is the only way to prepare simple French cuisine.
Local Produce and Their Seasons
A well prepared menu will follow the same plan nature provides with meals reflecting seasonally available produce. For example in spring Ontario menus feature the lovely flavour of asparagus, beets, artichokes, fiddleheads and fennel in sides, soups and salads. Fresh berries follow soon after lovely for sauces, salads and of course desserts. Summer fresh favourites include vine ripened tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and of course Ontario corn. Peaches are the star of summer fresh desserts but can also be grilled or used in complementary chutneys and sauces for meat.
During the fall season, approaches the heartier foods prevail with cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes and other root vegetables making their appearance. And of course a fall favourite, orchards are ripe with apples as summer winds down, the perfect partner for pork and staple of heart-warming desserts.
Using it All
Another great way to take advantage of seasonal produce is using the entire plant in unique and tasty ways. The leaves of veggies such as beets can often be incorporated as can blossoms, especially large ones like those found on zucchini. Whether incorporating them into a fresh and vibrant salad, sauteeing them with garlic and butter, or blending in with other leafy side dishes, there are so many ways to make use of the full plant.
Fresh herbs also hold an important place in simple French cuisine and the beauty of herbs is they are available seasonally but can also be grown indoors for an endless supply of aromatic influences on any number of dishes. Thyme, tarragon, sage and rosemary are popular choices for simple French cuisine and basil is classic Italian. However newer flavours add a creative contemporary twist to dishes such as cilantro, lemon grass and the reappearance of lavender even in desserts.
There is no doubt, simple French cuisine with a focus on farm fresh produce is the perfect way to sample the season’s best foods.