Recipes to bring out the best in your fresh produce

By Lori Mork

Springtime is one of the best times of year, especially when it brings out those early vegetables and herbs. Cooking is so much more fun when you can work with fresh produce right from your garden. Here are a few recipes to try:

CAPRESE SALAD
This salad couldn’t be any easier, and it’s so fresh and flavorful, it goes with anything.

INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large) sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried well
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
On a large platter, arrange tomatoes and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

ALTERNATIVE DRESSING:
2 cups balsamic vinegar reduction

DIRECTIONS:
In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook for 10-20 minutes, or until balsamic has reduced to a thicker glaze. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool.
When ready to serve the salad, arrange the tomato and mozzarella sizzles on a platter. Arrange basil leaves between slices. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the salad, getting a little bit on each slice, then do the same with the balsamic reduction.

CUCUMBER SALAD
WITH RADISH AND DILL

INGREDIENTS:
1 English cucumber or 3 regular cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of one lemon
6 ounces Feta cheese, coarsely crumbled (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus more sprigs, torn, for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed with flat side of large knife
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
Put cucumber, radish and lemon zest in medium bowl, add cheese.
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, dill, sugar and garlic in another bowl; whisking until sugar has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified.
Add vinaigrette to cucumber mixture; toss well. Garnish with dill. Discard garlic clove before serving.
Refrigerate salad in an airtight container for up to an hour.

ROSEMARY POTATOES AND CHICKEN
I have to admit, much of the time I’m all about easy and quick. This recipe was modified from several others to suit my lifestyle!

INGREDIENTS:
1 package Simply Potatoes Red Potato wedges or Easy Homestyle Slices (or you could make your own wedges by boiling red potatoes until partially cooked, then proceeding with the recipe)
2-3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and cut into bite-sized pieces (again, you could make your own chicken pieces fresh by cutting up boneless, skinless chicken and sautéing in oil until cooked)

DIRECTIONS:
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, then add oil and potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until deep golden color on the undersides. Turn potatoes over, add chicken and cook for about five minutes more until nearly cooked through. Add rosemary and garlic, and cook until completely cooked through. Serve hot.

*You can adjust all the seasonings according to your preferences.

SOUR CREAM RHUBARB BARS

CRUST
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Stir together powdered sugar, flour and cornstarch, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a 9×13 pan or a large, deep jelly roll pan (17×11 or 18×12). Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.

FILLING
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups sour cream
2-1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 teaspoon salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
Mix together eggs and sour cream until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients except rhubarb. Sprinkle rhubarb over crust; pour filling over top; cover with foil. (If using a jelly roll pan that isn’t deep enough, you may have to leave out some filling or it will overflow.) Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes more.

TOPPING
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
Cut butter into flour and brown sugar mixture. Remove foil from pan, sprinkle over top of bars. Bake 20-30 minutes more or until center is set.
Cool completely. Store in refrigerator.

GLAZED RHUBARB ALMOND PIE

INGREDIENTS
1 (4-3/4 ounce) Danish dessert and pie glaze (Strawberry or Raspberry)
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 9-inch deep dish pie crust, baked

DIRECTIONS
Prepare glaze according to package directions. Cover surface of glaze with waxed paper to keep from forming “skin.” Set aside. Bring the first 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water to boiling; add rhubarb and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook covered 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove rhubarb with slotted spoon; set aside.
Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, milk and vanilla until fluffy. Fold in almonds. Spread over bottom and sides of pie shell. Spoon half the glaze over cheese layer. Arrange rhubarb over top. Pour on remaining glaze. Chill.
To serve, sprinkle with additional almonds. Makes 8 servings.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

An early garden vegetable, asparagus shoots seem to herald the arrival of spring. Here’s a great way to savor this wonderful produce.

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 pounds very slender asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Place a baking sheet or roasting pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, span off and discard tough ends of asparagus, then set asparagus aside.
Pour oil into pan and coat the bottom evenly. Use tongs to roll asparagus in oil. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the asparagus is tender-crisp to bite, about 5-7 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese.

This entry was posted in Foodz, Home & Gardenz and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>