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Farm to Table on the Coast: Enjoy local, fresh foods packed with flavor

Heirloom tomato salad from Vestige in Ocean Springs
Heirloom tomato salad from Vestige in Ocean Springs Special to the Sun Herald

Farm to Table is more than a catchy phrase. It comes to us from the Slow Food Movement, which started in Italy in the 1980s. The goal was to promote local cuisines, but more importantly, it was and remains all about healthy eating.

The Slow Food Movement is not a bad idea at all, so get on board. The better grocery stores have signs telling you what is local. You can also stop by a local farmers market, just make sure it is a certified market, that way you can be sure what you buy there came from a local farm, not a produce wholesaler.

If you are going out to eat, there are a handful of restaurants that are farm to table. White Pillars in Biloxi, Vestige in Ocean Springs, and C&C Italian Bistro in Bay St Louis are great examples, although this is not a complete list by any means.

Please don’t stress out over this, just buy fresh food as often as you can, and watch those portion sizes. Here are a few simple recipes that I think you will like.

Vestige Tomato Salad

Chef Alex Perry of Vestige offered this version of his tomato salad, which is a little bit more home-cook friendly.

Heirloom tomatoes

Green Goddess Dressing (use prepared if you must, lots of recipes online)

Almonds

Old Bay seasoning

Best quality olive oil

Sea salt

Cut tomatoes into bite side chunks. Season almonds with Old Bay and roast at 350 degrees until well-toasted. Toss tomatoes and almonds, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and a dribble of olive oil. Serve chilled.

Shrimp and Grits

1 cup grits

Wild caught Mississippi shrimp

2-3 cups chicken stock

1 cup cream

½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Diced heirloom tomatoes

Optional: 2-3 tablespoons butter

Olive oil

Season shrimp and sauté quickly in very hot oil, no more than 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté 2-3 minutes. Combine grits, stock and cream, simmer until done. If you must add additional liquid, make sure it is hot. Just before the grits are done, add the butter if you like. Pour grits into small ramekins, allow to cool, pop the grits out, top with shrimp and serve at once.

White Pillars Flatbread

This is Chef Austin Sumrall’s home version of his amazing flatbread. He would prefer you to use homemade flatbread but use fresh baked from the grocery if you must.

Garnish

Arugula

Goat cheese

Prosciutto

Lemon Vinaigrette ingredients

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pure olive oil

1 cup lemon Juice (fresh)

1 Tbsp shallot (fine diced)

1 Tbsp thyme (chopped)

1 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Drizzle over finished flatbread

1 flatbread per person

1/2 pound Shroomdom Farm Oyster Mushrooms

2 Tbsp shallots (chopped)

1 Tbsp thyme (chopped)

1/4 cup butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Rough chop mushrooms. Sauté shallots and thyme. Add mushrooms and cook until tender and season. Top flat bread with mushroom mix and prosciutto. Cook in oven until crispy. Top with goat cheese, arugula and drizzle with lemon vinaigrette.

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