Lee Greene was studying in Milan and managing a biodynamic vineyard when she got the idea that there should be a way to bring the beautiful foods grown and prepared by artisanal farmers and chefs to the tables of consumers.

Her company, The Scrumptious Pantry, specializes in products such as pasta, cookies, oils and condiments made from the produce of small organic farms and using recipes that reflect regional culinary heritage.

Recently, I sat down with Greene and Andrew Fair, the Farmer Forager for The Scrumptious Pantry, at Marion Street Cheese Market.

Fair devotes his time to locating farms that produce high-quality fruits and vegetables. Then he draws upon his experience as a chef to develop products that will bear The Scrumptious Pantry brand.

New from The Scrumptious Pantry is an Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Beef. This is in some ways a Bolognese sauce (tomato with beef), but it has, according to Greene, “a Midwestern taste profile: bay leaf, clove and cinnamon rather than the more Italian basil, oregano and garlic. We’re going more toward capturing the hearty Midwestern beef sauce.”

In keeping with the mission to use products from smaller farms, the Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Beef uses tomatoes from Happy Valley Farm in Black Earth and  beef from Dietzler Farms in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

We tried the Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Beef in a baked ziti. This sauce is intense in the best possible way: the clove is predominant, and the sauce is rich with Dietzler beef, perhaps a bit heavy on salt if eaten by the spoonful (which I did, before The Wife intervened), but when you put it over pasta, perfect.

Also new is Cranberry Catsup, which Fair explains “has cranberries (from Fine Vine Organic’s) providing the acidity that comes from vinegar in regular catsup.” I enjoyed some of this catsup with bacon, and it was very good, slightly sweet (though nowhere near as sugary as Heinz or Hunt’s), with a mild fruitiness.

One big challenge of producing such artisanal products is that it’s hard to achieve the consistency typical of bigger brands.  So, The Scrumptious Pantry recognizes that maybe the catsup this year will taste a little different than the catsup next year because that kind of variation happens in nature. The Scrumptious Pantry is all about celebrating the natural though not at all uniform taste of what the Earth gives forth.

You can find The Scrumptious Pantry products at The Marion Street Cheese Market.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...