By JIM WILLIS
When Casey Pesce, chef/owner of d’jeet in the Grove was studying in Italy, he learned about the harmony that eating local brings to food.
“The air you breathe, the water you drink – there’s a harmony with the local food,” he says. “If you drink a Chianti in Chianti, you’re getting everything– you’re breathing the air that the grapes were breathing, the climate. You have a harmony.”
Pesce wants his customers to experience that same harmony when they dine on the kale and herbs that he serves from the gardens at the Grove.
Pesce, 34 of Fair Haven, sat down with redbankgreen’s PieHole to talk about how the change in seasons means changes in what’s locally available and what he’s cooking.
“We use the garden across the street at Grove West,” says Pesce. “Right now we’re picking kale – Russian red kale, Tuscan kale and edible flowers. The Grove has a full-time gardener who maintains the organic garden six days a week. They also grow fresh herbs for us right out in front [of the restaurant]. It’s great, especially on the weekend – we’ll run over there and grab some greens, some figs.”
“In summertime, we do a lot less to the food to prepare it. We do a lot more chilled recipes when we’re working with fresh, local summertime vegetables,” says Pesce.
But now that it’s getting cooler out, Pesce says following what’s fresh means changing up the menu.
”We’re doing less fish and more meat. More braises [slow, long cooking]. We’re going into squash season and kale and other hearty greens.”
Pesce suggests that home cooks who want to take advantage of really fresh, seasonal harvest right now keep their eyes open for kale, fennel and squash at the Red Bank Farmer’s Market.
“We’ll have kale now until, hopefully, December,” says Pesce. “There’s not much you need to do with it if it’s local and fresh. Some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. If you want you can enhance it with some bacon or leeks.”
As for the squash, Pesce says that the butternut squash soup has been on the d’jeet menu for years and is very popular.
“It’s very, very simple,” says Pesce. “It’s just butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apples, apple cider and finish it with maple syrup.”
Pesce says he’s happy to share the recipe with PieHole’s readers, so check back shortly. Might be a nice way to smooth out the bumps of this weekend’s northeaster.[UPDATED]
. . . and here’s that recipe as promised:
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Rosemary
Recipe by: Casey Pesce
Yields: 1 gallon
1 Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Apples, peeled, core removed and chopped
1 Onion, chopped
2 Celery stalks, chopped
3 Garlic cloves
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Rosemary stalks, stems removed
3tbsp. Whole butter
1 1/2 qt. Chicken or Vegetable stock
1 pt. Heavy cream
1 pt. Apple cider
In a large soup pot on medium heat add the butter and melt. Next, add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook them slowly for about 15 minutes or until they are tender. Next, add the squash, potatoes, and rosemary. Continue to cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables start to fall apart. Than add the stock and cider. Cook for 20 more minutes than puree with a hand held blender or in a standard blender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.