Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Local Lunch from La Montanita

For as much as I share the local places where I like to go out to eat, the truth is I also enjoy staying at home and cooking on occasion. I don't do it often enough, but when I get the chance, I like to go all out, experimenting with new recipes and pushing my own culinary boundaries.

That's what I did on a recent Sunday, except with a local twist. If you remember, I participated in the 505 Project's 30 Day Challenge to shop local over the summer. Come to find out, they rewarded the most active participants with prizes and I walked away with a $50 gift certificate to La Montanita Co-op. La Montanita is a grocery store with a couple of locations in Albuquerque, one in Santa Fe and one in Gallup. They run on the principles of fresh, fair, and local. They have an incredible selection, including some gorgeous looking fresh produce and a lot of which you won't find at your big box stores.

I decided to take advantage of the gift certificate and put together a meal for the whole family: roasted pork chops with a carrot, potato, and apple medley; baby spinach salad with applewood-smoked mozzarella, kidney beans, and balsamic vinaigrette; and cinnamon-sugar apples sliced, baked and topped with ice cream.

(Let me throw out a quick disclaimer. Most everything I used came from the co-op with the exceptions of the pork chops and ice cream which we already had at the house.)

I was especially proud of how well the main dish turned out so please indulge me as I share it with you.


The inspiration for the main dish started with this beautiful and colorful medley. I've prepared a similar dish with your run-of-the-mill carrots and potatoes but after seeing these multi-color options, I opted for this arrangement.

Organic medley of rainbow carrots, red and purple potatoes, and Fuji apples from La Montanita Coop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I picked out two bunches of rainbow carrots, two pounds of red potatoes, a pound of purple potatoes, and about a half dozen Fuji apples. The apples are a good pairing for the pork chops and can be roasted right alongside the other ingredients.

But first, everything gets chopped up into roughly equal pieces.

Just look at the deep color in these purple potatoes. It's a great way to add color to the dish.

Organic purple potato sliced in half and chopped

As for the cooking process, I start by searing the pork chops in a hot, oven-safe pan. I had to use two because we've got a bunch of mouths to feed in this household. After the pork chops brown on each side, I take them out while I throw the veggie/apple mix for a couple of minutes of browning time. As for seasoning, everything got treated with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary.

Then the best part is you can just throw the chops right on top of everything and toss into a 425° oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Dinner is served.

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