Chefs are focusing as much on the veggies, salads and appetizers these days as on the entrees. Vegetables play a starring role and boost the nutrition of a meal as well as adding flavor and color to the plate. Restaurants recognize the value of serving local produce, cheeses and other products. Local individually owned restaurants are more likely to be open to purchasing gourmet veggies than national chains.
Different Colors and Shapes
Green beans are green and may be a hard sell to that gourmet bistro down the street. Beans of a different color, say yellow wax beans, speckled Mexican beans in pink and white pods or purple string beans are a different matter. Go beyond the standard veggie colors. Sweet peppers grow in yellow, red, orange and purple. Shapes include long and narrow, blocky like bell peppers or miniature varieties about the size of a lemon.
Grow eggplants that are pink, white blushed with purple, green and all white. Shapes include long and slender and egg-shaped. Beets appear in dark red but also white, golden and dark purple. The Chioggia beet is red on the outside and swirled with red and white on the inside.
Heirloom tomatoes are in a class by themselves. The flavor is intense and has nuances of fruit, citrus and herbs as well as that sweet and tangy unmistakable tomato taste. Indeterminate tomatoes, those that produce all season long, are a better bet than determinate tomatoes which ripen all at once. Tomatoes come in different sizes from tiny raspberry-sized to huge tomatoes weighting more than 2 pounds. Colors vary as well; besides old-fashioned red, heirloom tomatoes are white, green when ripe, orange, yellow, pink when ripe and chocolate.
Asian cuisine uses meat as a condiment, flavoring their dishes with small slivers of fish, pork, beef and poultry relying on vegetables to provide the bulk of the dish in addition to rice. Home gardeners shouldn't find growing these vegetables a challenge. Recreate the climate as much as possible. Some oriental vegetables require high humidity and a long warm growing season while others don't. Try yard long beans, bitter melon, bok choy, snap peas and daikon radishes.
Visit a Chinese or Oriental grocery store to get additional ideas. Don't limit yourself to approaching Asian restaurants. Fusion cuisine is popular today. Restaurants that serve French, Mexican and American food may be interested in buying your Asian vegetables.
If you opt to grow organic, find out exactly what determines an organic vegetable. There are restrictions on what insecticides as well as fertilizers are used. It's not enough to grow organically for a season or two if there were chemicals used in the garden previously. Transplants must be purchased from organic nurseries. Even seeds must be obtained from organically grown vegetables.