All Hail Asparagus, Spring is just around the corner

  So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid, it’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS MOCK CRAB TART (dairy)

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb mock crab shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and mock crab on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

Modified from about.com

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND LOX BITES (dairy)

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 lb lox, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, lox and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

ASPARAGUS STRATA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

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ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT (dairy)

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS (pareve)

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

ASPARAGUS AND PASTA SALAD (dairy)

6 to 8 slices Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon, cut into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper chopped

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup of the water used in cooking

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan for serving

Cook the Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and but keep the oil in the pan. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for 2 more minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the cooked Morning Star Farm® fake bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

All In for Asparagus At Any Price/Some Recipes Not Kosher

So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid,  It’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

GRILLED ASPARAGUS CRAB TART

 

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb crabmeat shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and crabmeat on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND BACON BITES

 

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

 

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, bacon and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS

 

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

 

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

 

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS

 

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

 

ASPARAGUS STRATA

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

 

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

 

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT

 

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

 

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS

 

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve

ASPARAGUS   AND PASTA SALAD

 

6 to 8   slices Canadian bacon or hickory smoked  bacon, cut into bite size pieces   2 tablespoons olive oil   1  onion, finely chopped

1 red   pepper chopped

1/2 lb   mushrooms, sliced   1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into   1/2-inch-thick slices   1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup   of the water used in cooking   1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan   for serving

 

Cook the   bacon in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and   pour off half of the remaining fat. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper   in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking   for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and   1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the   bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add   the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for an   additional 2 minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the   cooked bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to   8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

Spectacular Acorn Squash Recipes

 

They’re everywhere you look these days. Green and round-ish they kinda look like alien pod people could erupt from them at
any moment. But wait, don’t be alarmed, it’s just that acorn squash are in season and they’re affordable, available and just waiting for you to take them home.  These green and orange/gold and hard squash are, in my cookbook, the best squash to cook to bring fall flavor
to your table. They are chock full of vitamins and beta carotene and lend themselves to sweet and savory dishes with equal aplomb. As far as I can tell their only drawback is that they can be insanely difficult to peel. That issue aside, they’re yummy delicious and oh so good for you.

Acorn squash available from August through March; however, they are at their best from October to November when they are
actually in season. To peel the raw acorn squash you gotta have muscles, good knife, a ton of patients and quite possibly a few band-aids. Personally, I prefer to roast the squash, cool it and then scoop out the good stuff. Some people prefer to steam it but roasting or baking it seems to give most recipes the maximum burst of flavor.

Acorn squash along with other members of the winter squash family (denoted by their hard protective skins) can, for the most part, can be used interchangeably. Acorn squash are cheap right now and it is so satisfying and versatile that you have no excuse not to try these hearty recipes.

 

ACORN SQUASH WITH BLACK BEANS AND QUINOA

 

3 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon margarine, melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup raisins

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

6 teaspoons shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove the squash from the oven. While the squash is baking, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Add the black beans and raisins and continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and set the mixture aside. In a saucepan boil the broth and add the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until quinoa is done according to the directions
on the package. Add the cumin, salt, and pepper to the quinoa and mix to combine. Add the vegetable mixture to the quinoa and mix to combine. Mound each squash half with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle the top with the cheddar cheese, if using. Return the squash to the oven and heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

ITALIAN SAUSAGE STUFFED SQUASH

 

3 acorn squash

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/2 cup bell pepper, diced

3 green onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon ground pepper or to taste

salt to taste

2/3 cup maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 400. Cut both ends off of the squash and then cut it in half width wise and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 2 inch rounds for a total of 12 ring slices.  Arrange squash rings in single layer on a foil lined rimmed cookie sheet.

Melt butter in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper,garlic, celery and green onion. Saute until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and let cool for about 15 minutes. Add the sausage, pepper and salt. Divide mixture into 12 portions and mound mixture in center of squash rings. Brush sausage and squash with half of syrup. Bake 15 minutes. Brush with remaining syrup and bake until squash are tender and sausage is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Makes 12.

 

ACORN SQUASH WITH CORN SOUFFLE

 

2 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup milk or half and half

2 eggs

1/2 cup to 1 cup corn kernels (fresh is best)

1/3 cup chopped red onion

Pinch of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 to 3 green onions, sliced thin

 

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cut a small slice off the bottom of the squash to make sure it sits level. Make sure not to cut all
the way through so that the filling won’t run out. Brush the inside of the squash with oil. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. Cover the squash with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes.

 

While the squash is baking, in a bowl combine the milk, eggs, corn, the red onion, nutmeg, and salt. When the squash is cooked fill each of the squash halves about 3/4 full with the corn mixture. Continue baking uncovered for another 30 to 40 minutes. Done time will depend on how big the squash is and if the soufflé is set. When you feel that everything is done sprinkle the cheese on the top and put it under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese and make it bubbly. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. To serve place on a platter and sprinkle the top with the green onion. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled. You may have extra filling. Just grease a glass baking dish, pour it
in and bake until it’s set. About 30 min.

 

Submitted by Cary Whiteside NY NY

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP

 

2 acorn squash, seeded and cut in large pieces

6 cups apple cider

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Slices of granny smith apples dipped in apple cider

1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces

 

Preheat oven to 400.  Place the squash in a stock pot. Drizzle honey over the halves. Pour apple cider and stock over the squash.
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then cook for about 45 minutes to an hour until the squash is tender.  Remove the squash pieces and let them cool. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and put it in a food processor or blender and puree it with some of the broth.  Continue
the process until all the squash is pureed and everything is returned to the stock pot. You can strain this at this point but I never do. You can adjust the consistency with stock or cider depending on your preference. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a dollop of cinnamon sour cream a few toasted pecan pieces and a slice of apple in each bowl. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled.

 

Cinnamon Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

In a small bowl combine the sour cream and cinnamon and mix to combine.

 

SQUASHED SOUP

1 acorn squash, seeded and sliced but not peeled

1 large butternut squash, seeded and sliced but not peeled

2 zucchini cut into chunks

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon curry

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon white pepper

salt to taste

olive oil and butter

1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

 

Preheat the oven to 375. Drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan and place pats of butter underneath the squash slices on the pan, placing the acorn and butternut squash flesh side down.  Cook it all for about 30 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the minced garlic to the bottom of
the pan and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Let the squash to cool to room temperature. In a stock pot combine the broth with the zucchini and onion and cook at a low boil until the onions and zucchini are soft. When the acorn and butternut squash is cool enough to handle scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Add the broth and vegetables and process until you’ve got a nice not too thick not too runny consistency. You will need to do this in batches. Place everything back in the stock pot and season with curry, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix to combine and cook for an addition 2 to 3 minutes until everything is hot. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Submitted by Marsha Parker Oaklawn IL

 

SQUASH STEW

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 large onions, chopped

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 large acorn squash, peeled and chunked

1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) green beans cut in half

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 cup barley

1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until onion begins to become translucent. Add the squash chunks, green beans, and chile and saute for another 4 or 5 minutes. Add the corn, barley tomatoes, broth, and vinegar. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 30 or 40 minutes, until squash and green beans are tender and the barley is cooked. You may need to add a
little more liquid if this is cooking up too quickly and is too thick. This can be served over a baked potato. Serves 6.

 

WILD RICE AND ACORN SQUASH TOPPED WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 medium acorn squash, quartered and seeded

 

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

11/2 cups wild rice mix

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic, minced

 

Roasted Vegetables

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 medium eggplant, cut into chunks (1½ cups)

2 cups baby carrots

2 cups sugar snap peas

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cranberry sauce for garnish, optional

 

To make acorn squash: Preheat oven to 350. Coat baking sheet
with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Whisk together olive oil,
maple syrup, soy sauce, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of water in small bowl.
Brush inside and edges of acorn squash wedges; place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until squash is soft enough to prick with tip of
knife. Keep warm.

 

Cook the rice according to package directions and then set
it aside. Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion
and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the cooked rice and pine
nuts, and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

 

To make roasted vegetables: Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or
large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the eggplant in oil 10 minutes, or until
softened. Add carrots and sugar and sauté 5 minutes more, or until carrots
begin to brown. Add 2 cups water, cover, and steam vegetables 10 to 15 minutes,
or until soft. Add snap peas, and steam 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt
and pepper.

 

To serve: Place 1 Acorn Squash wedge on each plate. Spoon
the rice mixture into center of each squash quarter, and top it with the vegetables.
Sprinkle the top with the chopped parsley, and add a dollop of cranberry sauce,
if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Modified
from vegetarinantimes.com

Yo Yo Yogurt

           
After watching Jamie Lee Curtis touting the benefits and joy of regularity that comes with of eating of Activia ® I was filled  with a fair amount of trepidation (and a few really good one liners) as I approached this column about yogurt. I figured I’d take a pass on the gas jokes and just get down to the basics of writing about the benefits and good stuff that comes from consuming of good old fashioned yogurt.
So what exactly is yogurt? While some of the less informed may immediately think of the creamy sweet stuff in little plastic tubs with fruit on the bottom or the frozen custard like stuff with flavors like caramel crème and chocolate mousse plain yogurt is actually milk that has had bacteria added to it. This good for you bacteria causes the milk to ferment and thicken. This fermented thick mixture is strained and the liquid is drained off. The end result is a tangy creamy mixture that has the consistency of sour cream. Besides being delicious yogurt is also full of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Regular yogurt is strained once or twice, the new kid on the block, Greek yogurt is, however, strained three times (or more) making for a much thicker and denser consistency.
           Which yogurt is better for you to utilize when climbing the food pyramid, you ask? On one hand Greek yogurt has almost double the protein and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt. However, regular yogurt has three times the calcium as the Greek variety so choose which ever one works best for you. Finally, it’s really a tossup when it comes to calories (watch what you add to it) and if price is your only concern the Greek yogurt is typically far more expensive.
On the technical side, I prefer to use Greek yogurt to replace cream cheese, sour cream, or ricotta cheese in baking or cooking. The regular yogurt tends to curdle more than the Greek variety when you cook with it.  I gravitate towards regular yogurt when I’m making dips, salad dressing, smoothies, desserts and sauces. When you add fresh fruit either variety works great.
So if there was a smack down cooking cage match between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt which should you bet on and buy? The answer is that it’s a draw you win with both and whoever gets to eat what you make takes home the prize.
   
Yogurt Tips:
1. Use yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream to reduce calories and fat.
2. Add yogurt to your marinades. Its high acid content is a great tenderizer.
3.  Add yogurt near the end of the cooking process to prevent curdling.
4. Use yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, or butter to reduce calories and fat in baking.
5. Don’t use aluminum pans when cooking with yogurt, the acid could cause a negative reaction.
YOGURT MASHED CAULIFLOWER

2 heads of cau¬li¬flower (flo¬rets only)
6 oz con¬tainer of Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons but¬ter
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/2 to 1 tablespoon mince garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 to 3 chopped green onions for gar¬nish
Salt and pep¬per to taste

In a medium pot, bring the water to boil. Add the cau¬li¬flower flo¬rets to the boil¬ing water and let then cook it for about 8 min¬utes or until they are soft. Remove the florets from the heat and drain then in a colander. In a food proces¬sor, com¬bine the cau¬li¬flower with the yogurt, but¬ter, gar¬lic and minced onion and process with pulses until you have a con¬sis¬tency you like. Add the salt and pep¬per to taste. Immediately spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and mix in the parmesan. Top with green onions and serve immediately. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

GREEK YOGURT BERRY PIE
You can use a readymade pie crust if you like

Crust
1 cup flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoons water

Yogurt Cream Cheese Filling:
6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
8 oz Greek yogurt
4 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 3 cups mixed berries
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
In a mixing bowl combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives cut the butter in the flour mixture. Add the water the mixture. Mix with a fork until the dough is just moistened. Shape crust dough into a ball with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle and then fold it in half then in half again. Place it in a tart pan with a removable bottom and unfold.  Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack.

In the bowl of a food processor combine all the ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When ready to assemble the pie spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the tart shell. Sprinkle the berries over the top of the filling. In a glass bowl heat the jam slightly and then drizzle the warm jam over the top of the berries. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Modified from about.com

SEAFOOD LASAGNA

1 large egg, beaten to blend
salt and pepper to taste
12 to 15 lasagna noodles, cooked
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. butter
6 tbs. all purpose flour
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 cups Stonyfield Farm Lowfat (1%) Organic Milk
2 cups Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt (or substitute with yogurt cheese)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere
1 lb. lobster meat (slightly undercooked if possible), coarsely chopped
1 lb. small shrimp (uncooked)
1 lb. small scallops (uncooked)

Whisk flour in heavy medium saucepan to remove any lumps. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups milk and nutmeg; whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan, egg and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead, just cover and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat until heated through before using; do not boil. Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl combine lobster, shrimp, and scallops together In a separate bowl fold together 1 1/4 cup gruyere, 1 1/4 cup mozzarella and yogurt. In 8 1/2 by 11 inch baking dish, start by coating the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of white sauce; next add a layer of lasagna noodles placing tightly together, cut to fit if necessary. Spread 1/3 of yogurt and cheese mixture, and sprinkle with 1/3 seafood. Repeat layers 2 times ending with lasagna noodles. Finish the top with white sauce and sprinkled with remaining cheese. Cook for 35 minutes on top of sheet pan in case it bubbles over

From stoneyfield.com

ZUCCHINI GRIDDLE CAKES WITH YOGURT SAUCE

3 to 4 medium zucchini, shredded
Salt and pepper
3  eggs, beaten
1/2 cup  flour
1 tablespoon  olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 to 6 tablespoons oil (or more as needed)

Yogurt sauce
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons minced cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Place the shredded zucchini in a colander over a bowl or in the sink and mix it with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drain for five to 10 minutes and then place the zucchini in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Try squeezing it a second time just to make sure you got all the liquid out. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the eggs. Mix to combine. Add the flour, salt, olive oil, mozzarella, green onions dill and pepper. Mix and add the baking powder. Mix to combine. Place the griddle on the heat and brush 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil on the surface Spoon heaping tablespoons of the batter several inches apart so they have room to spread (don’t make them too big). They may need to be flattened slightly. Cook until they are golden on one side (3 to 4 minutes) and then flip them and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side. The griddle cakes should be crispy. You can make them up ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven. Serve hot. Makes 12

For yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, cucumber and salt. Mix well, and serve on the side or on pancakes.

Submitted by Brian Zimmerman NY, NY

APPLE AND CARROT YOGURT SALAD

1 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 carrots, peeled and shredded (3 1/2 cups)
2 apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch sticks (3 1/2 cups)
1 cup shredded jicama
1 head red leaf lettuce, torn in to bite size pieces
1 cup chopped pecans

In a salad bowl combine the yogurt, vinegar, pepper, salt and parsley in a bowl. Add the carrots, apples, jicama and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to soften the vegetables slightly. Place the lettuce on a platter and then spoon the apple mixture over the top.  Sprinkle the pecans on the top and serve. Serves 6
 
.
AVOCADO AND MANGO WITH SPICY TAHINI YOGURT DRESSING
I
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
3 mangos, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To make the dressing combine the yogurt and tahini in a bowl and whisk them together until smooth. Add the cumin, coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Divide the avocado and mango slices between 6 plates. Spoon the dressing over and sprinkle with almonds.

Modified from Taste of Israel by Avi Ganor and Ron Maiberg

.
FRESH HERB TUNA PASTA WITH YOGURT DILL SAUCE

1 cup orzo pasta
3 green onions (sliced thin tops included)
1 green bell pepper (minced fine)
1 red bell pepper (minced fine)
2 tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cup black or kalmata olives (finely diced)
2 eggs (hardboiled finely diced)
2 teaspoon fresh dill (finely minced)
1 tablespoons dill (fresh, finely minced)
2 teaspoons celery seeds
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
6 oz water (tuna, drained)
1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
 salt
 pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and rinse under cold water to quick chill, drain well and pour into large mixing bowl.  Stir in green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, egg, fresh herbs, mustard, and parsley; mixing well.  Add the lemon juice, yogurt, tuna and cheese, mix well; add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sliced bell pepper slice, sliced tomato or additional cheese if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

Submitted by Sharon Barlone West Bloomfield MI
RIGATONI WITH YOGURT LIME SAUCE

4 cups cooked rigatoni pasta
2 cups frozen peas
1 red pepper diced small

Sauce:
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoon minced garlic
Zest of lime
Lime juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
4 green onions, sliced thin
Parmesan cheese to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, in a bowl combine the yogurt, garlic, and lime zest. Mix to combine and add the lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Stir well and set aside.

Just before draining pasta add the diced pepper and peas to the pot and let cook for 1 minute. Save 1 cup of the salted pasta water and then drain the rest.  Return pasta and peas to pot.  Stir in yogurt sauce.  Add the saved pasta water slowly mixing until you get the desired consistency for the sauce.  Serve immediately, topped with green onions and Parmesan. Serves 4

CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA CURRY

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/4 lb. package ground chicken or turkey
1 large onion, chopped in medium dice
2 tablespoons sweet curry powder
1 can petite dice tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz.)
1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans, 15.5 oz. can)
12 oz. Greek yogurt
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy frying pan, add ground chicken or turkey, breaking it apart with the turner and sauteing until it is well cooked and lightly browned about 8 to 10 minutes.

Push the chicken or turkey to one side of the pan, add the 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add the chopped onions and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until onions are just starting to get some color. Sprinkle onions with the curry powder and cook about 2 minutes more, turning a few times, then stir the onion mixture into the chicken. Add the tomatoes with juice and drained chickpeas and let simmer about 5 minutes, or until some liquid has evaporated and flavors are well blended. Turn heat to low, stir in yogurt, and simmer about 3 minutes more. (Don’t let it come to a boil after the yogurt has been added.)

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro if desired. Serves 4.

Modified from Chicken Chickpea Curry Bowls by Rachel Ray

Beautiful Brussel Sprouts

Every now and then I get a recipe request from a reader that I just can’t answer. OK, Let me rephrase that, it’s not so much that I can’t answer but rather I don’t want to answer because the food in question is one that I don’t partially like to eat, let alone serve.

Yes, I know that this is childish (as in “YOU CAN”T MAKE ME EAT THIS STUFF MOM!”) But just such a request came across my desk yesterday from a long time reader and I decided to put aside my own prejudice against said food and do the best I could.

            Imagine my surprise and dare I say it, delight when I discovered that my childhood repugnance for the Brussel Sprout was merely a figment of my taste buds imagination and that they were actually quite delicious. What started as a chore became a search for recipes that I knew would be added to my permanent collection.

The Brussel sprout is actually a variety of cabbage.  Much like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and turnips the Brussel sprout is a biennial that produces its “sprouts” in the first year and bears seeds the second year.

“Brussel sprouts of good quality,” according to USDA” are hard or firm, compact, fresh, or bright appearance and of good green color. Those that are wilted or have yellowed leaves are usually aged or stale and should be avoided at all cost. When selecting your Brussel Spouts always try to buy them in bulk as apposed to pre packaged so that you can pick and choose the ones you want. As I said before, larger is not always better, Smaller sprouts usually are milder and sweeter.

So, join me in setting aside my preconceived notions of the Brussel sprout and try the following recipes. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts for cooking, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the bottoms of the trimmed sprouts with a deep X.

CLASSIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS (pareve or dairy)

4 cups of water

steamer basket

1 lb. Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half 

2 to 3 teaspoon unsalted butter, margarine or olive oil 

 

To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X. Pour the water into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Place the Brussel sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 8-10 minutes or until Brussel sprouts are tender. Drain, add butter/margarine/olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and toss. Place the Brussel sprouts in a bowl and serve.  Makes 4 serving. This can be doubled or tripled.

BRUSSEL SPROUT SAUTE (meat or pareve)

Not excited by Brussel Sprouts? This method turns the little heads into a deliciously different kind of vegetable dish!

20 to 25 firm, ripe Brussel Sprouts

2/3 cup onion, diced fine

3 tablespoons white wine

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

4 tablespoons margarine

salt and pepper to taste

Using a sharp paring knife cut the stem end off the sprouts, freeing the individual leaves. Carefully remove all of the leaves, cutting the stalk a second time if necessary. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter a heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Quickly sauté the Brussel sprout leaves for a minute or two. Add a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper and the white wine. Reduce the wine for a minute then add the chicken or vegetable broth, lower the heat and cover. Toss the mixture occasionally and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the margarine to the pan and toss with the sprout leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Note. You can also add 2 cups of cooked white or wild rice to the sauté just before serving and have wonderful side dish for 6 to 8.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH BABY CARROTS (pareve)

A sweet glaze is the perfect accompaniment to the crunch and mellow taste of this paring of vegetables.

1 pound frozen Brussel sprouts

1 (9-oz.) package frozen baby carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon orange rind

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Garnish: grated orange zest

Cook Brussel sprouts and carrots according to package directions and then drain. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the brown sugar, orange rind, and juice in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep the mixture warm until the vegetables are done and drained. After the vegetables have been drained pour the brown sugar mixture over them and toss to coat. Server immediately. You can garnish as desired Serves: 4

OVEN ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES

3 medium onions cut into large wedges

4 small Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, halved

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1/2 (8-10) pound Brussel sprouts, halved

2 medium carrots cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 branches fresh thyme

10 fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, halved

About an hour before cooking, in a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients up to except the last 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic. Thirty minutes before roasting, preheat oven to 450 degrees and slip in a heavy, large, very shallow baking pan (a half sheet pan is ideal) to heat up. Pour the remaining olive oil onto the hot pan, and then immediately spread the marinated vegetables on the pan, taking care not to crowd them. Roast about 50 to 60 minutes, turning several times during cooking for even browning. Add the cut garlic to the vegetables after about 1/2 hour of cooking, making sure to mix the garlic in with the vegetables. Once browned and easily pierced with a knife, vegetables are done. Serve immediately while the vegetables are hot.  Remember to balance the stronger taste of the rutabaga, celeriac, parsnip, Brussel sprouts and turnips with sweet and rich ones like onion, potato, yam, or carrot. Cut harder vegetables into smaller pieces.  Serves 8. Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X.

CRUNCHY TOP BRUSSEL SPROUTS (pareve or dairy)

3 tablespoons margarine or butter

l l/2 lbs Brussel sprouts

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup brown breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts

the zest of 1 lemon

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven 375. Use 1 tablespoon of the margarine or butter to lightly grease a large 9” X 13” ovenproof dish. (Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X). In a sauce pan combine 4 cups of water and the sugar. Cook the Brussel sprouts in the boiling salted water with the sugar for approx 10 minutes. Drain well and turn into the prepared baking dish. Melt the remaining margarine or butter in a skillet and add the bread crumbs and nuts and cook, over a medium heat until the breadcrumbs and nuts are toasted and until golden. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the finely grated rind from the lemon. Squeeze 1 tablespoon lemon juice over the sprouts and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the Brussel sprouts and lemon juice so that the Brussel sprouts are coated. Top the Brussel spouts with the crumble mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8. Note: You can replace the nuts with grated cheese and also add a little chopped onion or celery to the bread crumb mixture.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND POTATOES (pareve)

1/2 pound (approx 8) new potatoes, halved

8 to 10 Brussel sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

salt and black pepper

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until fork tender. Add the prepared Brussel sprouts and cook for 5 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat the oil and sauté the garlic for 3 minutes or until it is just beginning to turn golden. Add the cooked potatoes, Brussel sprouts, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and oregano; add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and heat through, adding more liquid if the mixture looks too dry. Cook approx 8 to 10 minutes and serve hot. Serves 4. This can be doubled or tripled

CARMELIZED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PISTACHIOS

4 pounds Brussel sprouts

1/2 cup margarine or butter

4 small red onions cut into strips

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

Note: To prepare Brussel sprouts, trim 1/4″ from the bottom and score the trimmed sprouts with a deep X). Place Brussel sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 8-10 minutes or until Brussel sprouts are tender yet crisp. Melt the margarine or butter in a deep skillet, add the onions and 3 tablespoons vinegar; cook until onions brown. Add the Brussel sprouts, sugar and remaining vinegar. Sauté over medium heat until the Brussel sprouts are lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the Brussel sprouts from the pan and place them in a serving dish and garnish with the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Awesome Artichokes for Spring

    Every spring as I start to approach that dreaded day, (no, not April 15 or the last day of spring break for my kids) where I have to make the decision as to whither or not to actually purchase that new swim suit I’ve been trying to avoid for the past 3 years (deciding to actually put it on and then go outside in it is another nervous breakdown).
    I know, that unlike my sister Lois, who’s mottos are “I never met a swim suit I liked (or who liked me)” and “Control Top forever” that I’ll inevitably get into that “Oh yeah, it’s spring, I’d better start eating right, Diet” mind set.
    This isn’t actually that much of a hardship as it might appear to be. Right now, artichokes can be mine at bargain prices (rain, floods and other natural disasters in California not with standing). Every produce section I’ve visited in the last few weeks has been full to overflowing and now is the time to grab these first offerings of spring and go for the gusto.
     When choosing an artichoke it should look compact, (not necessarily small) plump, have the leaves tightly packed and have an even green color overall. Rinse the artichoke. Cut off the tip of each large leaf. Then cut off the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem. Boil or steam the artichokes in a covered pot. Cook 30 to 40 minutes at a rolling boil or until the outer leaves pull away easily. Remove from heat and serve either hot or cold with butter or other sauces for dipping. To eat. Pull off the leaves, dip the meaty bottom part of the leaf in the dipping sauce and bite off. You can remove all the leaves and just eat the bottom or heart of the artichoke. You must however remove the top part of the  heart (small bitter leaves and filaments in the center) before you can eat the bottom portion.

            Fresh artichoke taste wonderful, however if you need to use a large amount for a recipe the canned or frozen variety work almost as well.

ORANGE AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

6  cooked artichoke hearts
1/2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 oranges, peeled, and segmented
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
salad greens
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salad greens

In a skillet saute the garlic in the margarine and place in a small bowl. Cut the hearts into quarters and set aside. Add the oil, orange juice, grated orange rind and the lemon juice to the garlic. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the orange segments and the artichoke hearts in a large bowl and drizzle the sauce over. Let set for at least 1 hour. To serve: arrange the artichoke and oranges on the salad greens and sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 4. This can be doubled.

TICKLE MY TASTEBUDS ARTICHOKES

10 artichoke hearts, uncooked and halved
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Soak the artichoke hearts in the lemon juice, salt and water for approx 1 hour. Pour them and the liquid in which they were steeped in a pot with the oil, garlic, and sugar. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a serving dish. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and pour over the hearts. Cool sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and serve cold as a side dish. Serves 4 this can be doubled.    

ARTICHOKES WITH TWO DIPS
4 Large California Artichokes

   Wash artichokes under cold running water. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder may be added, if desired.) Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Cool completely; cover and refrigerate to chill. Makes 4 artichokes.

CREAMY THAI DIP

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Makes 3/4 cup.

HONEY MUSTARD DIP

1/4  cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

CRABBY DIP

1 cup shredded mock crab

2 tablespoons water juice

8 oz cream cheese softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4  teaspoon garlic salt

Blend cream cheese and milk until smooth, add the lemon juice and garlic salt. Stir in mock crab. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about  1 1/2 cup.

CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1 lb frozen artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced onions
3 lbs. artichokes (3 to 4 medium, trimmed of thorns)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme

croutons

Defrost the hearts and puree them in food processor with 1/2 cup of the stock, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. In a sauce pan heat the remaining broth the  half-and-half, and thyme. Add the artichoke mixture and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Serve croutons Serves 8.

COUSCOUS-STUFFED ARTICHOKES
4    large California artichokes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1    teaspoon curry powder
3/4   teaspoon ground cumin
1/2   teaspoon garlic salt
1    cup instant couscous
1/4   cup currants
1/2  cup sliced green onion
1/2   cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped
1/2   teaspoon lemon zest
2    tablespoons lemon juice
2    tablespoons vegetable oil

 Wash artichokes. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 to 3 inches boiling water. Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes, or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Carefully remove center petals and fuzzy centers with a spoon and discard. Keep warm or chill as desired.

   In medium saucepan combine chicken broth, curry powder, cumin and garlic salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in couscous and currants. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in green onion and almonds. Combine lemon peel, lemon juice and vegetable oil; stir into couscous.

  Gently spread artichoke leaves until center cone of leaves is revealed. Pull out center cone. With a spoon, scrape out any purple-tipped leaves and fuzz. Fill centers of artichokes with couscous mixture. Makes 4 generous servings.

COOK’S TIP: Fresh cooked and chilled artichokes are easy to keep on hand for quick meals. Refrigerated in a covered container, they will keep up to a week.

Recipe Courtesy of California Artichoke Advisory Board

© Eileen Goltz artichoke

What the Heck is Bok Choy?

Sometimes I get bored of the same old vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love peas and green beans and celery and asparagus and all the other likely veggie suspects. But how many times can I roast cauliflower or steam broccoli or green beans before I run out of ways to dress them, sauce them over or fricassee them and not feel like I’m rewind mode? That’s the moment I start looking for the fun veggies that make my family sit up and take notice and say, “what the heck is this stuff?” One of my absolute favorite, guess what this is vegetables, is bok choy.

          Bok choy is a dark leafy green cabbage family generally associated with oriental recipes often found in soups, stir fries and as a steamed side dish. Bok choy is chock full of vitamins A and C and calcium and delicious. Hummm, remind me again why I don’t use it as often as I could or should.  

Bok choy is pretty much available year around.  You should look for firm stalks and pass up any with brown spots. When you’re getting ready to use it cut off most of the base of the stalks before washing it so that the dirt that collects between the stalks can be thoroughly washed away. Some people like to separate the stalks from the leaves before they cook it because the thicker stalks have a longer cooking time than the leaves. If the stalk isn’t cooked whole, bok choy is typically shredded because it’s quicker to cook if cut into smaller pieces. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure not to overcook the bok choy, the stalks should cooked to be just tender and the leaves should be just wilted.
         Bok choy pares well most oriental flavors and is especially tasty with soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. With its subtle flavor and crispy texture, bok choy can be used as a substitute for cabbage in most dishes. It’s equally delicious raw, steamed or stir fried and its inexpensive so that it’s a perfect fit for every budget.

 

ALLISON’S ORANGE AND BOK CHOY SALAD (pareve)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider or rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

6 cups bok choy, shredded

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 10 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

2 avocados slice and chopped

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 to 2 packages Ramen noodles, crushed (discard the seasoning packets or save for later)

In a bowl combine the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a bowl combine the bok choy, cabbage, onion, oranges and avocado.  Toss to combine. Pour the dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with the almonds and ramen noodles. Toss to combine. Serves 6

Submitted by Allison Garrison Chicago IL

ORIENTAL BOK CHOY AND CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, grilled, cut into bite sized pieces (or leftover chicken)

1/3 cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 lb pea pods, cut in half diagonally, blanched

1 lb bok choy, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and sliced thin

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

3 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup rice noodles or chow mien noodles

 In a large bowl combine the chicken, parsley, cabbage, green onions, peas pods bok choy, cucumber, red pepper and garbanzo beans. Mix to combine. In another bowl combine the vinegar, oils, ginger and peanut butter. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper. If the dressing is too thick add a little more vinegar. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Top with the rice noodles. Serves 4 to 6.

VIETNAMESE STIR FRY BEEF WITH BOK CHOY WITH CRISPY NOODLE CAKE (meat)

1 pound  steak

1 pound bok choy (3 cups sliced)

10 green onions, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Dash or two of hot sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger, divided

2 cups red bell peppers, sliced

Crispy Noodle Cake

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

3/4 pound angel-hair pasta or thin noodles

2 teaspoons oil

Sauce

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Crispy Noodle Cake: Preheat boiler. Line a baking tray with foil and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles. As soon as water returns to a boil, drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Shake dry and spread out evenly on the baking tray. Sprinkle oil over noodles and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Place noodles on the middle rack of the oven. Keep an eye on them as you prepare the beef. When noodles are crisp, after about 10 minutes, remove and flip onto other side. Spray with oil again and return to broiler for another 5 minutes. To serve, cut noodles into 4 portions with sharp scissors or a knife and transfer to individual plates. Cut each cake into 2-inch squares. Spoon beef, vegetables and sauce on top.

Helpful Hint: The noodles will need to be turned. The easiest way to do this is to loosen them on the tray all around the edges, cut into 4 sections and, with a spatula, flip each section.

For sauce: Mix all ingredients together.

For beef and bok choy: Remove fat from beef. Slice into 1/2-inch-wide strips 2 to 3 inches long. Wash and dry bok choy. Slice on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Slice scallions on the diagonal.

Heat wok and add oil. Add half the garlic and half the ginger and fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the bok choy, green onions and peppers and stir-fry until wilted but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove to a warm serving plate. Add remaining garlic and ginger to wok and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove to plate with vegetables. Add the sauce and hot sauce to wok and stir to prevent lumping. Heat until sauce bubbles. Add vegetables and beef to sauce and toss several times. Remove wok from heat. Spoon over noodles and serve immediately.

Modified from Dinner in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer

MOCK CRAB AND BOK CHOY

1 cup vegetable or pareve chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 lb. linguini noodles, cooked according to the package instructions, drained

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 1/2 lb mock crab

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onion

1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

In small bowl combine the broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch; set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and add the broccoli, and red bell pepper and cook stirring constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mock crab, bok choy, mushrooms, green onions, water chestnuts and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 or minutes or until the mock crab is hot but the vegetables are still crisp tender. Stir soy sauce mixture into the vegetable mixing to coat. Cooking, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the cooked noodles and toss to coat. Serves 4

Modified from about.com

CRUNCHY BOK CHOY SALAD (pareve)

Dressing:

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salad:

1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

3 cups thinly sliced bok choy

1 cup very thin red bell pepper strips

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions

To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

To prepare the salad, crumble noodles; discard seasoning packet. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanuts; saute for 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat. Combine crumbled noodles, peanuts, bok choy, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2001

QUOINA AND BOK CHOY TURKEY PASTRAMI SALAD

1 cup quoina

2 cups of chicken broth

2 portabella mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

1/3 to 1/2 lb turkey pastrami, chopped

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook the quinoa in the chicken stock according to the directions on the package and cool slightly. Place it in a large bowl. In a skillet cook garlic and red onion together in the oil until the onion is soft. Add the bok choy and cook 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and turkey pastrami and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the mixture to the quinoa.  Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish. Serve hot or cold.

Submitted by Claire Louise Smart Bloomington IN

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