SoCal restaurants pile on fresh produce to lure customers

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As farmers market fresh continues to entice, many restaurants are doing their best to add fun and flavorful fruits and veggies to their lineup. (KABC)

When you think of Italian food, light and lean doesn't generally come to mind, yet two local eateries feature some great farm-to-table concepts.

"People have changed and they want something a little more market fresh. Wonderful grilled fruits and vegetables, sometimes hidden into items and sometimes out in plain sight," said Allen Artcliff-Cronrod, general manager of Culina.

Artcliff-Cronrod says his executive chef grew up on a farm. Cooking what was harvested was the rule.

Salads with berry and spinach, roasted beets with shaved radishes and roasted pear and walnut with arugula are just three of the seven daily salad offerings at this restaurant's lunch.

"Vegetables aren't something to be afraid of," said Artcliff-Cronrod.

One appetizer is actually a flan made of Swiss chard with a quail egg topped with Pecorino cheese, and while the risotto has plenty of Parmesan, it's also packed with artichokes.

Meat is accompanied with parsnip puree and topped with other seasonal treats from the farmers market.

"We are very proud in what we can offer here," said Carlo Massimini, co-owner of Uovo.

It's fresh pasta from Bologna that has Massimini excited. He and his brother, LeLe, fly it in fresh for Santa Monica to enjoy.

"Pasta from Bologna, Tagliatelle al Ragú, Tonnarelli all'Amatriciana which we serve with our Tonnarelli," said LeLe.

But don't look for bread or breadsticks to accompany their dishes. Instead they serve "roasted brocollini, roasted cauliflower, and roasted artichoke," said Carlo.

Pasta pairs beautifully with produce. Providing more nutrients and fiber on less calories is a tasty and healthy way to go.
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