When the pandemic hit in March of this year, I had many of the same fears as everyone else. I worried about the health of my family and those around me. I worried about finances, my kid’s education, and how can we all work from home. I worried about going to the store and stocking up on toilet paper, cans of beans, flour, and hand sanitizer. Thank goodness, that craze is now gone. But I still worry about going to the grocery store.
The one comforting thing that has been my anchor all along is cooking. Well, all my life, but now more than ever. We all saw a surge not only in cooking but in my case (a silver lining here), in virtual cooking classes.
Armed with recipes, know-how, and enthusiasm, I started teaching one virtual cooking class after another. But going to the grocery store remained scary.
As we are all developing new habits and see a new culture being born, there is a new way of grocery shopping: online. Not just ordinary online shopping. Think of the best products delivered to your door. From farm to table.
I’m not the only one who is preferring to receive a delivery at home these days. Millions of people are in the same boat. And I’m guessing this new method will not go away when Covid19 is behind us.
A wave of new companies is springing up around the country, bringing local foods fresh from the farm to your door. In the tri-state area, one such company is OurHarvest, founded by Michael & Rebecca Winik who met at UPenn.
While Winik worked in investment baking, instead of thinking about the next business deal, he was often thinking about his next meal. Rebecca, an architect, baker, and photographer is also a cookbook collector with a passion for food.
One day, while shopping in a local farm stand, they ate a freshly picked apple and marveled at its pure flavor. The next week, while shopping at a regular grocery store, Winik bit into an apple and realized it was twice the price and half the taste. He looked at the tag and the apples were from New Zealand. “How is that possible? Something is not making sense”, he shared with his wife.
And so, they went on a quest to find out. Turns out, five to seven people “touch the food” before it arrives at the grocery store. “That’s terrible for the customer; terrible for the farmer”, Winik said. “Plus, there are other consequences regarding the impact on the environment, creating an aftermath for the community and the consumer.”
Is there a way to get food from a farm to the customer, and make it more affordable? OurHarvest is the result of all of these questions.
Send in the Harvest
Based out of Long Island, New York, OurHarvest has been growing steadily since launching, but business skyrocketed after Covid19. “We are in a very lucky spot,” said Winik, who works closely with many suppliers, touching, tasting, smelling, and harvesting with them along the way. The company is currently looking for investors to help with expansion as the line up on the “online door” is bigger than expected.
The premises of the business is a win-win situation for everyone: the farmer and the customer and a growing company that is positioning itself on that sweet intersection between food, tech, and future habits. It’s as if this durable bond between cooking and health is being uniquely translated by OurHarvest.
In the early days, OurHarvest was seeking out farmers. Now, it’s the other way around. “Farmers and growers are reaching out to us, hoping they can be part of our source list. We can help brands that never sold anything before”, Winik said proudly. “It has to be organic, hormone-free, completely natural. But ultimately, the product has to be delicious.”
Cooking is fun when you receive from OurHarvest
Partnering with over 400 farmers, OurHarvest sells pretty much anything you can find at a grocery store with the advantage that the food is picked the day of or delivered one day after its harvest. It’s that fresh!
My delivery came on a Tuesday afternoon. That morning, I received an e-mail advising that my delivery would most likely arrive between 12 and 2 pm. It did. When the truck driver rang my doorbell, I felt like a kid waiting impatiently to open a gift. There is something special about food delivery, a sense of excitement, discovery, and adventure. In the kitchen, I felt like a queen-chef.
Apples, beets, kale, squash, rutabaga, tangerines, and different types of cauliflower in one bag,
Bread, Salmon, and Goat Cheese spread in another bag.
The bread, crusty and tender, comes from Sullivan St Bakery one of the most celebrated bakeries in New York.
The goat cheese from Ardith Mae is so fresh it feels like you’re being transported to a dairy farm. That’s the spirit! I spread on a piece of bread, and I need nothing else.
These tangerines made the healthiest and most delicious fresh juice I’ve had.
Now, let’s talk about salmon.
Not only I love preparing salmon for my family, I often include salmon in my virtual cooking classes. The quality and taste of the organically raised Scottish Salmon were superb. It’s sourced from the pristine waters of the Faroe Islands, with no color enhancers or any additives.
When I get my hands on food as fresh as this, I’m highly charged with excitement to cook and develop new recipes. All sorts of things were prepared with my wonderful OurHarvest delivery; apples went into an apple cake and cauliflowers were roasted. That Tuesday night, I was so excited to be cooking with all this wonderful produce. Hundreds of possibilities could generate amazing recipes from this food delivery alone, but it was OMG at first sight when I paired kale and salmon together. I used it as an inspiration for this gleaming new recipe that I prepared for my family.
With the kale, I made a Kale sauce, a shy cousin of the pesto, that I added to a risotto.
Salmon with Kale Risotto
For the Kale Sauce:
Kosher Salt, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch (about 1 lb) lucinato kale, thick ribs removed
For the Risotto:
4 ½ cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
½ medium onion, finely diced, about 1/3 cup
1 cup Arborio rice
For the Salmon:
4 skinless salmon filets, about 4 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 springs of dill for garnish
Prepare the Kale Sauce: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Plunge the kale leaves into boiling water at once, and cook until it’s just tender, 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove kale from the water, letting most of the water drip on to a bowl, and place them directly into the bowl of a food processor.
- Beat the kale, and with the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Scrape into a bowl and keep in the fridge until needed. You can also freeze this kale sauce for up to 2 months.
- Prepare the Risotto: In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep the stock at a slow, steady simmer.
- Working over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or a large sauté pan.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook while still stirring, until all the grains are coated with the onion and butter mixture and the rice looks shiny about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add one (large) ladle-full of simmering stock. Cook, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Add another ladle and keep cooking and stirring. Continue adding ladles of liquid only when the previous addition has been completely absorbed. Keep the heat low so you have better control because you’ll want to prepare the salmon while the risotto is cooking.
- Prepare the Salmon: Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the salmon top side down and cook for about 2 minutes on each side– you want the salmon to be cooked around the edges, but raw and warm in the center (if you like your salmon well done, cook it a little longer). Try to coordinate the cooking of the salmon with the risotto; the rice should be just a few minutes from being done by the time the fillets are finished.
- The rice should be al dente and almost all the liquid absorbed within about 15 minutes of starting. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add about ½ cup of the kale sauce into the risotto and mix well with a wooden spoon until the risotto looks lively green.
- Add the remaining butter and another tablespoon or so of stock to make the risotto creamy. Spoon the risotto onto warm plates. Place the salmon on top and a drizzle of olive oil.
Click on OurHarvest to know more and place an order.