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Flavor savors

Citizen Staff Writer



Much like the well-worn mantra of the three most important factors in real estate – location, location, location – the three biggest trends in healthy eating at home and in restaurants these days are local, local and local.

To showcase Arizona food and agricultural products, the Arizona Department of Agriculture has rolled out the “Arizona Grown” program. You may have already seen the orange logo in grocery stores and restaurant menus.

To make it even easier for customers to identify local produce, Arizona-based grocer Bashas’ has designed special units in its produce departments for “Arizona Grown” food.

One of the more prominent Arizona growers already sporting “Arizona Grown” stickers on its produce is Willcox-based Eurofresh Farms.

Unlike food picked early to extend shelf life for shipping long distances, locally grown food can be picked at its peak of flavor, and has the benefit of less energy used to transport it, said Dwight Ferguson, Eurofresh CEO.

Another benefit to using local produce lies in the knowledge of how it’s grown, an issue that has come to the forefront with the recent incidences of food-borne illnesses from tomatoes, spinach and other foods, Ferguson said.

Restaurateur Sam Fox, who started his empire in Tucson but moved his headquarters to Scottsdale as it expanded (he currently has 27 restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Kansas), now prominently features Eurofresh tomatoes and cucumbers at his eight Tucson eateries.

“Our guests enjoy knowing where their food is coming from, and there’s no argument that local is fresher, and fresher tastes better,” said Clint Woods, executive chef for Fox Restaurant Concepts.

Just how good does local taste? Try it for yourself with these recipes for tomato sauce and tomato soup from Woods.

NoRTH’s Eurofresh Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Sauce

5 pounds Eurofresh Vine Ripe Tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh chopped shallots

1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 turns fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Core tomatoes and cut into quarters. Toss tomatoes with oil, garlic, shallots, basil, oregano and thyme. Place tomatoes in sauce pot and turn on low heat. Cook tomatoes on low until juices cook off and tomatoes have concentrated flavor, for about an hour or two. Stir tomatoes constantly. If the tomatoes stick to the bottom of pan, the heat is too high. Once tomatoes are cooked to desired consistency, season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you desire, you can slightly pulse in blender or enjoy the sauce a little chunky.

Source: Clint Woods, Fox Restaurant Concepts

Arizona-produced foods offer fresh flavors to savor

Montana Avenue’s Campari Tomato Soup

6 ounces yellow onion (rough chopped)

4 ounces celery (rough chopped)

6 ounces carrots (peeled, rough chopped)

2 ounces red pepper (seeded, rough chopped)

2 ounces garlic cloves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 1/2 pounds Eurofresh Campari tomatoes (cut in half)

2 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (chopped)

4 ounces tomato paste

64 ounces chicken stock (fresh or low sodium all natural product)

16 ounces heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon Tabasco

3 tablespoons kosher salt

4 or 5 turns fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

In a large pot over medium heat, sweat the first seven ingredients until translucent. Add next four ingredients and continue to sweat down on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Then, gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in blender and puree until smooth.

Source: Clint Woods, Fox Restaurant Concepts

Win a $50 Fox Restaurants gift card!

One person who answers the following trivia question correctly will be randomly selected to receive the card:

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

Send your answer, along with your name and a contact phone number, to ttruelsen@tucsoncitizen.com or mail to TastePlus, Tucson Citizen, P.O. Box 26767, Tucson AZ 85726-6767. Entries must be received or postmarked by Feb. 11. A winner will notified by Feb. 16.

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