Farmer’s Dinner: A Simple, Healthy, Hearty Meal

For years, now, my husband and I have had a favorite dinner combination that we come back to again and again, never tiring of it. There are good reasons for this. It is quite simple, fairly fast, and delicious every time. It never gets old, because there are a bunch of different variations. And it is based in very sound healthy nutrition principals. We call it a farmer’s dinner.

farmer’s dinner with fried green tomatoes, seasoned kidney beans, and a side of jalapeno corn with garden cherry tomatoes

The idea for farmer’s dinners originated with one of my husband’s old friends, who insisted that his grandfather (who was a farmer) ate the same basic things for dinner every day of his long life and never got sick. In fact, he’s still alive today and healthy, though very, very old.

What is a farmer’s dinner? No, we’re not talking about one of those fancy gourmet gatherings that some cities hold where gourmet chefs are hired and farm-fresh produce is prepared in an elaborate meal and served with expensive wine. We’re not even talking about farmer’s market co-ops or CSA shares.

Our version of a farmer’s dinner is much simpler than that. A farmer’s dinner has a few basic components. Beans or lentils in some fashion. Corn or rice. Fresh greens and vegetables from the garden (or vegetables canned from the home garden in the winter). Usually corn bread or biscuits with butter. And meat only very rarely.

There is a science and a balance behind those staple components of the farmer’s dinner. All of these things combined make a very hearty and well-balanced dinner that is very nutritious and healthy:

Lots of grains (corn bread, biscuits, corn, or rice): Grains provide lots of complex carbohydrates, which give energy and are the base of a balanced diet.

A complete protein (grains plus beans or lentils): A lot of people don’t realize that grains plus legumes (beans, lentils, some nuts) make a protein just as complete as meat. Even many vegetarians don’t realize this, and they overcompensate with a lot of soy products when they don’t really need to. Protein is important for growth, healing, and building muscle.

Fresh vegetables (seasonal greens and garden produce): Vegetables are an important source of minerals and vitamins, vital to health.

Over the years, we have found countless ways to make variations on that simple farmer’s dinner. The farmer’s dinner in the picture above features a dish of seasoned kidney beans, garden-fresh fried green tomatoes (in a cornmeal and flour batter with egg), and a corn and vegetable side with jalapenos and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden. There are a multitude of different bean dishes, vegetable sides, and rice or corn preparations that can be used in a farmer’s dinner, and of course corn bread or biscuits can be livened up a few different ways, too. A farmer’s dinner never fails to leave us warm, full and satisfied.

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