Tomorrow's trip to the farmers' market will yield plenty of local poblanos for salsas, soups, and breads. Can't you just taste the heat? This will be in lieu of New Mexico's famous Hatch chiles. Why? Because Hatch chiles, while delicious, are not local. And that got us thinking: there are plenty of times we've subbed a local ingredient in a recipe...
As this article in the Austin-American Statesman reminded us, "In other words, Hatch chiles are not the only peppers worth getting excited about. When it's pepper season, we've got plenty of great options right here at home."
That's key to cooking locally: think about all the great options you have at home. You might not have any poblanos--but you may have a wonderful local alternative even to that. We're fairly experimental in the kitchen (remember this pattypan squash pie?), but for folks who may not be comfortable stepping outside of the recipe, we'd recommend trying it. Just a little bit.
Most of the time, we find that we can substitute local peppers for more exotic ones, pecans for walnuts, chard or collards for other greens, and even squash for apples. The trick with different ingredients is just to find similar textures and cooking times. If the flavor is a little different, it makes things more exciting!
Ask your local farmers while you're at the market about the best subs for some of your favorite ingredients (chard for spinach is a favorite in our household). If they grow something, they'll know all sorts of things to do with it--and that'll help you expand your local cooking lexicon.
(Image: Renee Studebaker for AMERICAN-STATESMAN.)