Sunday, November 15, 2015

RECIPE: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms and Cream

Difficulty Level: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise (5 cups)   
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter    
  • 3/4 lb. wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles or hedgehogs or shitakes, halved if small or cut into 1-inch wedges (about 4-1/2 cups)    
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)    
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine    
  • 1 cup heavy cream    
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

Put the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with 3 Tbs. of the olive oil; toss to coat. Spread the Brussels sprouts in an even layer and season generously with salt. Roast until tender and browned, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and 2 Tbs. of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms in an even layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden-brown and tender and the mushroom liquid (if any) has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and transfer to a plate.
Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter. When the butter has melted, add the shallot, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Return the mushrooms to the pan and add the Brussels sprouts and cream. Stir in a few grinds of pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream thickens and coats the vegetables nicely, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips:
The brussels sprouts can be roasted and the mushroom seared up to 8 hours ahead. Make the sauce and finish the dish just before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360; Fat (g): fat g 32; Fat Calories (kcal): 290; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 14; Protein (g): protein g 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 190; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 70; Fiber (g): fiber g 6;

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake

Difficulty Level: Moderate
 
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Flavorful, hearty 10-ingredient Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake with simple tofu ricotta and vegan parmesan cheese! A plant-based meal that's perfect for fall and winter!
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
SQUASH
  • 2 large spaghetti squash (~3-4 pounds each)
TOFU FILLING
  • 3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for squash
  • Sea salt + black pepper, to taste (~1/2 tsp each), plus more for squash
  • 2 lemons, juiced (~1/3 cup or 80 ml)
  • 12 ounces (340 g) extra firm tofu, drained and pressed dry for 10 minutes
  • 3 Tbsp (9 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup (30 g) fresh basil, packed
  • 1 Tbsp (3 g) dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
FOR SERVING
  • Vegan parmesan cheese
  • 25 ounces (708 g) favorite marinara/red sauce
  • optional: Fresh basil, chopped
  • optional: Red pepper flakes
 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Carefully halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise using a sharp knife. I find the best way is to pierce the skin with the very tip of the knife and push it all the way through to the other side. Rock the knife back and forth to cut one half all the way through, then repeat on the other side.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop (or sharp spoon) to scrape out the seeds and most of the stringy parts. It should appear pretty clean.
  4. Brush the interior with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the skin and flesh. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Also reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.
  5. In the meantime, add all tofu filling ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed. You are looking for a semi-pureed mixture with bits of basil still intact.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt and pepper for flavor, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and lemon juice for brightness.
  7. Once fully baked and slightly cooled, use a fork to scoop out spaghetti squash into fine strings. Set aside.
  8. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch (or similar size) baking dish and lay down 1/3 of the squash. Top with several spoonfuls of tofu ricotta, then pour on a layer of marinara sauce. Repeat until all ricotta filling and marinara is used up - about 3 layers. Make sure the top layer is sauce.
  9. Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown. Cover with foil if the squash is browning too quickly.
  10. Let cool briefly, then serve with desired toppings (listed above). I prefer red pepper flakes and vegan parmesan cheese. Fresh basil adds a nice pop of color.
  11. Best when fresh. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until completely warmed through.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Spinach

PREP TIME10 mins
COOK TIME60 mins
TOTAL TIME1 hour 10 mins
 
Serves: 8
Difficulty Level: Moderate
 
INGREDIENTS
·       1 medium spaghetti squash
·       1 tbsp organic butter
·       1 cup sweet onion, chopped
·       ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
·       2-3 garlic cloves, minced
·       3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
·       ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
·       1 free range egg
·       1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
·       salt and pepper to taste
·       2 cups spaghetti sauce
·       ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
·       ½ cup Parmesan cheese
·       ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs (or see notes to make your own)


INSTRUCTIONS
1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half length wise, remove all seeds and place on baking sheet face down. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.
2.     Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add butter, onions, bell pepper, and minced garlic, saute for 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chopped spinach and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes, or until spinach is cooked and wilted. Remove from heat.
3.     Once squash is cooked and cooled, use a fork to shred flesh into large bowl. At this point, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.
4.     Add free-range egg, Greek yogurt, chili flakes and half of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
5.     Pour 1 cup spaghetti sauce into 2 quart baking dish. Next, spoon spaghetti squash mixture over sauce and spread evenly. Then layer sautéed veggies over squash, stirring just slightly to combine it with squash, add another cup of spaghetti sauce, spread evenly then top with remaining bread crumbs, Parmesan and ¾ cup mozzarella cheese.
6.     Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
7.     Top with additional red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese if desired, then serve!

NOTES
To make your own seasoned bread crumbs, toast one piece of bread until nice and crispy, allow to cool completely, then tear into smaller pieces and add to NutriBullet or food processor, add 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp oregano, ½ tsp onion powder and ¼ tsp garlic powder. Blend 10-15 seconds or until you have fine crumbs.

Pasta with Tofu “Bolognese”
serves 8, a Fearless Homemaker original recipe
 
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
kosher salt + black pepper
2 (14 oz.) packages extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you’re not concerned with keeping this vegetarian)
12 oz. pasta, such as linguine or fettuccine
Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley, for serving
 
Directions

First, prepare the tofu. Press the tofu blocks between paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Then, using your hands, crumble into smaller pieces. Don’t worry about making them super small – you’ll crumble them further during the cooking process. Set crumbled tofu aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add in the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 10-15 minutes, until onions are translucent and vegetables are softened. Add in the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the crumbled tofu and Italian seasoning to the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 30 minutes, breaking up the tofu into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula, stirring every 3-5 minutes. The tofu will gradually turn golden brown – be patient, as it takes some time! The less you fuss with it (especially in the first few minutes), the better the tofu will brown.
After about 30 minutes, once the tofu is broken down into ground meat-size pieces and golden brown, add the tomato paste. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to get everything well-combined. Then, add in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, red pepper, vegetable or chicken broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss to combine well, adding some of the cooking liquid if needed to achieve your desired consistency.

Serve immediately, topped with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Friday, October 16, 2015

TIPS: Leeks

Leeks, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables. Since leeks are related to garlic and onions, they contain many of the same beneficial compounds found in these well-researched, health-promoting vegetables.

Tips for Preparing and Cleaning Leeks:

Leeks can be quite sandy, so careful washing is important. Here’s how to properly clean a whole leek.
  • Start by removing the outer layer of white (unless it is very fresh or from your own garden).
  • Trim the base with a sharp paring knife to remove all the roots.
  • Make an incision in the middle of the white stalk and cut toward the green tips, severing the leek in two, but with the bottom still intact.
  • Wash well under cold running water, pulling the leaves apart to rinse well between them.
  • Drain, green tips down, in a colander for a few minutes.

If the recipe calls for chopped leeks, it is best to chop them and then wash under cold running water. Allow to drain well before using.

Storage:

Store leeks in a plastic bag or crisper drawer in fridge; do not wash until you are ready to use them. Or chop to desired cooking size and freeze.  Being a cold weather vegetable, leeks prefer the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the bottom crisper drawer.  Properly stored, leeks can last about a month!

 A Few Quick Serving Ideas: 
  • Healthy sauté leeks and fennel. Garnish with fresh lemon juice and thyme.
  • Add finely chopped leeks to salads.
  • Make vichyssoise, a cold soup made from puréed cooked leeks and potatoes.
  • Add leeks to broth and stews for extra flavoring.
  • Braised leeks sprinkled with fennel or mustard seeds make a wonderful side dish for fish, poultry or steak.
  • Add sliced leeks to your favorite omelet or frittata recipe.

RECIPE: Garlic Family Soup

Difficulty Level: Moderate

6 leeks
sea salt
3 quarts water
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced in half, then sliced thinly lengthwise into half moons
6 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and halved lengthwise
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Bouquet garni: several sprigs of fresh parsley, tarragon, some bay leaves and celery leaves, wrapped in a leek green and tied with twine
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
fresh minced parsley for garnish

Trim and rinse the leeks, cutting off the dark green leaves and separating from the white and pale green parts.  Chop whites and pale greens.

Place dark green leek leaves in a large stockpot, cover with water and pinch of salt.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Cover, lower heat to medium, simmer 15 minutes. 

In heavy bottomed stockpot, combine chopped leeks, onions, shallots, garlic, olive oil, bouquet garni, and salt.  Sweat over medium heat, covered, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. 

Strain leek broth and pour over vegetables.  Add potatoes.  Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook 1 hour.  Remove and discard bouquet garni.  Blend soup, either in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

RECIPE: Easiest Leek Soup Ever

Ingredients:

1 bunch leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
Vegetable broth

Sauté all ingredients in olive oil until soft.  Remove from heat.  Add vegetable broth and purée. Season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

RECIPE: Pear Bread

Difficulty Level: EASY

•3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan(s)
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
•1 cup chopped walnuts
•3/4 cup butter, softened, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the pan(s)
•3 eggs, lightly beaten
•2 cups sugar
•2 cups peeled and finely grated ripe but firm pears
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and lightly butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, tossing to coat the nuts.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the butter or oil, eggs, sugar, grated pear, nuts, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.

4. Quickly and gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve as is, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

RECIPE: Roasted Apple Butter

Difficulty Level: Moderate

1 cup cider, divided into 1/4- and 3/4-cup amounts
7 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 pounds apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cloves

1.Preheat oven to 400°. Cut apples into large chunks (quarters for small apples, eighths for larger). Arrange on a large metal roasting pan, add the 1/4 cup of cider and lemon juice, then sprinkle with brown sugar and salt and dot with butter.

2.Roast for 30–35 minutes, or until apples are very soft and fall apart at the touch of a fork. Remove from oven and let rest for one minute, then pour the remaining 3/4 cup of cider over the pan. (This will help deglaze the pan and pick up the maximum amount of yummy caramelized flavor. Be careful when you pour, though, as it will sputter and steam a bit.)

3.Transfer apples and liquid to a large flat-bottomed bowl or pot. Mash with a spoon, fork, or potato masher until the pieces have been broken up into sauce.

4.Run the mixture through a food mill to remove the cores, seeds, and peels (see note above if you do not have a food mill). Stir in the spices, then give it a taste. Add more sweetener and/or spices until you have the flavor where you want it.

5.At this point, assess the consistency of your butter. If you’d like it to be a bit smoother, you can blend it up with a food processor or an immersion blender. (I like mine with a little bit of texture, so I leave it as is.) If it isn’t quite as thick as you’d like it to be, transfer it a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until you’ve achieved the right consistency. (Beware of cooking it down too much though, as you can wind up with a very heavy, intense butter. I like mine at the point where it just holds its form when stirred or spread. When it cooks down more than this, I find it develops an overwhelming pectin texture, which isn’t my favorite.)

6.Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it to keep it for longer.

RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower

Difficulty Level: EASY 

1 large cauliflower, cut into inch-sized florets
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. With a mortar and pestle, or the flat side of a chef's knife, lightly crush the coriander seeds. Add the crushed seeds to a bowl along with the cumin, cinnamon, olive oil, and salt.

2.Scatter the cauliflower florets over a rimmed baking sheet, then toss them with the oil-and-spice mixture. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir and roast for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle on the almonds and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower and the almonds are nicely browned. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash

Difficulty Level: EASY 

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/2 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs, toasted
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup low-fat or full fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cut sides of squash with ½ tablespoon oil (or spritz with an olive oil mister), salt & and pepper. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

2. With a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash to extract its long strands. Transfer to a large bowl. Add tablespoon of olive oil, ricotta, nutmeg, brown sugar, parsley, breadcrumbs, and hazelnuts, plus additional salt and pepper to taste. Toss all ingredients together and serve immediately, while squash is still warm.

Friday, October 2, 2015

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Delight

Difficulty Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  •  1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  •  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  1 onion, chopped
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  •  3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  •  3 tablespoons sliced black olives
  •  2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

  2. Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.

  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm. Add spinach if you have it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

RECIPE: Cocoa Pear Crisps

Difficulty Level: EASY

• 3 very firm pears
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon powdered galangal, optional
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (if not using galangal, increase this to 1 teaspoon)
• 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons cocoa

1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Halve each pear and use a melon baller to scoop out the core (including the stem).

2. Set a mandoline to the 1/8-inch setting, and slice each pear half into about 10 very thin slices. Occasionally, the 1/8-inch setting will cause the pears to mush or crumble. In this case, the 1/4-inch setting will work, though the crisps will need an extra 15 minutes or so in the oven.

3. Mix sugar and spices in small bowl. Place pear slices on rack set over baking sheet. Alternatively, place slices on silpat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with spiced sugar. Bake until almost dry, about 1 hour, turning the slices over and the sheets around half way through to ensure even baking. Cool on rack or sheet. Store airtight up to 2 days.

RECIPE: Pear Maple Tarte Tatin

Difficulty Level: EASY

Makes one 9-inch tart

•160 ounces (1/2 cup) grade B maple syrup (or what you have on hand)
•2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•3/4 pound store bought puff pastry
•5 or 6 medium Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
• Crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream, for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, or until thickened, dark, and reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters). (It foams up in the pan, so be sure to use a large enough pan so it doesn’t boil over. Once it foams, turn down the heat so it simply simmers—if it keeps foaming it will start to burn. Watch it carefully! It will look like it’s boiling away, so keep decreasing the heat to keep it at a low simmer.)

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour the maple butter into a 9-inch (23-centimeter) round cake pan. It may harden into a firm mass—do your best to spread it evenly on the bottom of the pan, but don’t stress about it.

3. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F (175°C).

4. Place the pears, rounded side down, in the caramel in the cake pan, as close together as possible and overlapping them a bit to cover the entire bottom of the pan. You want every single possible bottom surface of the pan to be covered with pears; the fruit cooks down and reduces somewhat in the oven, so don’t be shy about packing the fruit in tightly. When you have covered the bottom layer as best you can, cut any remaining pear halves in quarters or eighths so you can better layer the pears on top of each other, arranging the fruit so that it is fairly level on top.

5. Remove the dough circle from the refrigerator and trim it so that it is an even circle, keeping it about 10 inches (25 centimeters) in diameter. Drape the dough directly on top of the pears and tuck the edges of the dough around the fruit into the sides of the pan. Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the puff pastry is deep golden brown and the juices from the pears are bubbling up along the sides of the pan.

6. Place a large serving platter on top of the tart and quickly and carefully invert the pan so the puff pastry circle is on the bottom and the fruit is on top. Rearrange the fruit, if necessary, as sometimes it gets jostled loose and falls off the pastry. Serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream. The tart can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

RECIPE: Pear Salad

Difficulty Level: EASY

Vinaigrette:
•1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
•1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
•2 tablespoons sherry or apple cider vinegar
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
•1/4 teaspoon black pepepr
•1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:
•4 cups arugula, lightly packed (or other lettuces)
•4 cups romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces (or other lettuces)
•2 ripe pears, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
•1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
•3 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled (or other CSA cheese)
•1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

1. In a small bowl combine the shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk until the salt is dissolved.

2. Whisk in the olive oil and let vinaigrette stand at room temperature until salad is assembled.

3. Combine the arugula, romaine, pears and half of the pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.

4. Crumble half of the goat cheese over the ingredients in the bowl (this works best if the cheese is very cold).

5. Whisk the vinaigrette until uniform and add all but 2 tablespoons of it to the bowl.

6. Gently toss the salad with your hands or salad tongs, coating the ingredients well with the vinaigrette. If the salad seems dry, add the vinaigrette in small increments until it is dressed to your liking.

7. Crumble the remaining cheese over the salad and sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds and the pistachios over the top. Serve immediately.

RECIPE: Pear and Potato Gratin

Difficulty Level: Easy

1 large onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced and simmered in water for 5 minutes, drained and patted dry
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup half and half or light cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
5 or 6 gratings nutmeg
1 1/2 cups finely grated Swiss cheese (I used Gruyere) divided

1. In a large saute pan, saute the sliced onion in the 2 tablespoons butter until lightly caramelized ( about 10 minutes over medium heat). Set aside.

2. In a small sauce pan, heat the half and half to simmering and reduce by about 1/3. Add the salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.

3. In a well buttered baking dish ( I used a 9 x11 x2 inch oval), layer 1/3 of the potatoes, slightly overlapping. Layer 1/2 of the pears over the potatoes.

4. Sprinkle the caramelized onions over the pear layer and then layer the second third of the potatoes followed by the rest of the pears. Layer the remaining potatoes over the top.

5. Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the casserole followed by the remaining one cup of cheese.

6. Bake, covered, at 350F for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue to bake 15 to 20 minutes more.

TIPS: Pears

What you may not know about pears...

A little known fact about the pear is that it is one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree.  The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.  Therefore, a little bit of patience and know-how will ensure the pear reaches its peak flavor.

Here’s what you need to do to ripen your pears:

• Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so that they can ripen.
• Check the neck for ripeness daily, by applying gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat!
• Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and saved for use up to five days later.  But remember: don't refrigerate an unripe pear!

To Prevent Browning:

Like many fruits, the flesh of cut or peeled pears will eventually brown. This natural oxidation process won’t affect the taste or quality. However, to keep your pears looking appetizing and to prevent browning, dip them in a mild solution of 50% water and 50% lemon juice.

How To Freeze Pears:

Freezing helps you enjoy your favorite pear varieties all year long. Here are two ways to freeze pears:
• First, wash, peel, and core each pear. Make sure the pears you use are ripe, but not overripe.
• Next, cut the pear into even, thin slices. The number of slices will vary depending on the size of the fruit.
• Brush the slices with a lemon juice and water mixture. This prevents the fruit from browning.
• Then, choose your freezing method: syrup pack, dry pack, or your own method.
• Syrup Pack: Mix 2 cups of sugar in 3 cups of cold water in pot and bring to a boil. Once the sugar dissolves, place pear slices in the boiling syrup for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Pack the pears into freezer safe bags. Remove excess air. Freeze. These slices will remain good for 6 or more months.
• Dry Pack: Place the pear slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid. Remove and pack into freezer safe bags. 


RECIPE: Chocolate Beet Cake

Difficulty Level: Easy

1 1/3 cup self rising flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups sugar
9 oz beets, cooked (roasted or boiled) and pureed in a food processor or blender (keep the puree in the machine as you will be adding the ingredients below to it)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup vegetable oil, and more for greasing the pan
icing: 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a 9 inch springform pan with a bit of greased paper towel.  Line bottom of pan with circle of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and sugar. Stir.

In the food processor or blender you used to puree the beets, add the eggs, vanilla, and oil.  Blend all together with the beets.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beet mixture.  With a large spatula, gently fold together.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a wooden toothpick or tester comes out clean.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to remove parchment and cool completely.

For icing, sift confectioners' sugar into a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of water to create a glaze: dip the back of a spoon in the icing.  It should be thick enough to coat it without just running off.  Spread icing evenly over, letting a bit drizzle off the sides.

Friday, September 18, 2015

RECIPE: Beet and Tomato Soup

Difficulty Level: EASY

1 pound medium beets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
1 quart vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a large saucepan, cover the beets with water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until tender, about 1 hour; if necessary, add more water to keep the beets covered. Drain the beets and let cool slightly, then peel and coarsely chop.

2. Wipe out the saucepan and heat the olive oil in it. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chopped beets, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable stock and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Puree the soup in batches in a food processor. Rewarm the soup in the saucepan and season with salt and pepper.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with dollops of crème fraîche. Sprinkle with a little cumin and the parsley and serve.

TIPS: Beets

Beet Storage:

To store beets, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root as soon as you get them home. The leaves will sap the moisture from the beet root. Do not trim the tail. Store the leaves in a separate plastic or paper bag and use within 2-3 days. The beets themselves should also be bagged and can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer 7 - 10 days.

Cooked or canned beets may be refrigerated up to one week.

Fresh cooked beets may also be frozen up to 10 months. Be sure to peel before freezing in airtight containers or baggies, leaving no air in the container. They may be frozen whole or in cut pieces.

Beet Tips:

Although beets can be eaten raw, they are generally boiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled or otherwise cooked before eating. To retain nutrients and color, boil, bake or steam without peeling first. The skin will easily rub off under cold running water after they are cooked. To remove beet juice from fingers, rub with wet salt and lemon juice and then wash with soap and water. For cutting boards and plastic containers, use a bleach solution

Small, young beets are particularly tasty grated raw in salads. All types are delicious steamed or boiled. You can roast them at 400º F for 45 minutes; slice and top with goat cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for a quick and delicious side dish.

Or, you can toss grated beets with grated carrots, apples, oil and vinegar dressing.  A touch of plain yogurt makes for a wonderful color transformation.

The greens can be steamed, sautéd, and mixed with pasta with cheese.
 
 

Friday, September 4, 2015

RECIPE: Summer Squash Gratin

Note: great tip for removing excess fluid in summer squash!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons melted
2 onions, halved and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped fine
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 pounds yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Melt 1 tablespoon softened butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and cook until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in olives and 2 tablespoons basil; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, toss zucchini and yellow squash with 2 teaspoons salt in large bowl. Microwave, covered, stirring halfway through microwaving, until slightly softened and some liquid is released, about 8 minutes. Drain in colander and let cool slightly. Arrange zucchini and yellow squash on triple layer of paper towels, then cover with another triple layer of paper towels. Press slices firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter. Combine panko, Parmesan, and 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Evenly coat baking dish with 6 tablespoons panko mixture. Stir melted butter into remaining panko mixture until well combined; set aside.

4. Arrange half of squash in prepared dish and season with pepper to taste. Sprinkle ¼ cup panko mixture evenly over squash. Spread onion mixture in even layer over crumbs. Arrange remaining half of squash over onion mixture and season with pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until just tender, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove dish from oven; discard foil. Sprinkle remaining panko mixture evenly over top. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling around edges and crumbs are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil. Serve.

RECIPE: Fresh Fruit Roll-ups

Tip: You can use all different types of fruit. Try peach roll-ups with 6 peaches (about 1 pound) or blueberry roll-ups using 4 cups fresh

3 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.Preheat the oven to 200° F (100° C). Line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat.

2.In a blender or food processor, combine raspberries, honey, and lemon juice. Purée until smooth.

3.You could pour this purée straight onto your baking sheet and pop it into the oven, but the cooking time would take about 8 hours. For a quicker cook time, it helps to reduce the purée on the stovetop.

4.Pour purée through a sieve and into a medium-sized saucepan. Use a ladle to push the purée through the sieve if necessary. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes.

5.Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Use an off-set spatula to spread the mixture into a thin even layer. It is important to have an even layer as thicker spots will take longer to cook.

6.Place in the oven and bake until the Fruit Roll-Up is no longer sticky to the touch—this will take anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The mixture will still be slightly tacky to the touch but no longer wet. Turn the oven off and leave the sheet in the oven to cool completely.

7.Remove the baking sheet from the oven and invert the roll-up onto a piece of parchment paper. Peel the fruit layer from the baking mat and cut it

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RECIPE: Red Pesto

Difficulty Level: EASY

Ingredients:
1 pound dried linguine fini or other thin CSA pasta
4 ripe plum tomatoes
15 basil leaves
1 tablespoon celery leaves
1 tablespoon parsley leaves, plus more for serving
1 clove garlic
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup sliced (or whole) almonds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 ears fresh corn
Parmesan, for serving (optional) or CSA hard cheese

1.Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions on the package. Plunge into an ice bath, drain, and let cool.

2.Bring another pot of water to boil. Drop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute, until their skins split. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, peel the skins and remove the seeds.

3.In a food processor or blender, combine the peeled tomatoes, basil, celery leaves, parsley, salt, garlic, almonds, pepper, and olive oil. Process until smooth.

4.Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off of the cob. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce and the raw corn. Serve topped with chopped parsley or grated Parmesan.

RECIPE: Pico de Gallo

Difficulty Level: super easy

An all around great condiment that can be used as a dip for chips or tortillas, added to more diced tomatoes to create a salsa, mixed in with scrambled eggs, tossed on top of a piece of grilled meat or fish, etc.

Ingredients
equal parts diced:
white onion
cilantro (stems can be used too)
tomato (remove seeds first for a less soupy pico)
salt and lime juice to taste
diced, seeded jalepeno (for some heat, optional)

Mix!  Adjust seasonings to your personal preferences.

RECIPE: Summer Succotash

Difficulty Level: Easy

Ingredients:
One onion, diced
2-3 zucchini, diced
2-3 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed*
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil, and when hot, add onions.  Cook until softened, giving it a stir or two.  Add the zucchini and cook until softened and lightly browned on the bottom, give everything a good stir and add the corn.  Cook for just a few minutes more, about 5 or so, until the corn is looking bright and plump.  Take the pan off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste.

*Corn Tips
I find that storing corn in the crisper drawer of the fridge, husks intact, is the best way to prevent them from drying out.  They can be easily husked by holding them in one hand, silky top pointing away from you.  Grab ahold of the silk with your free hand and pull it towards you.  Repeat all the way around until all the wrapper leaves are bunched around the stem end and bend everything away from you until it all snaps cleanly off.  Lingering corn silk can be simply washed or brushed off.

To cut the kernels from the cob, hold the corn over a large bowl in the palm of one hand with the pointy tip facing away from you.  With a large, sharp, knife, position it against the kernels at the tip, perpendicular to the cob.  Then, tilt the tip of the knife upward until the blade is at a 45 degree angle facing away from you.  Start to pull the knife towards your body slowly, cutting off the kernels as you run the blade along the cob.  If your knife is sharp and at an angle like this, it should cut through the base of the kernels easily, separating them from the cob.  If the knife seems to get stuck, gently jiggle it a bit until it starts moving again.  DO NOT try to force it through at the risk of the knife slipping. 

I find that this is the fastest way to remove corn from the cob.  If you know that you won't be able to get to all the week's corn, it is a good idea to cut the kernels off the cob and freeze them in ziplock bags.  They freeze beautifully and can be used months later for a little taste of summer.

RECIPE: Zucchini Pesto

Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Ingredients:
3/4 cup blanched almonds (4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 medium zucchini (1 1/2 pounds), half of 1 zucchini cut into matchsticks and the remainder chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt
Black pepper
1 pound pasta
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano (4 ounces), plus more for serving
1/2 cup chopped mint, plus more for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Scrape the zucchini into a food processor and add the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped almonds; pulse to combine. With the machine on, slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil until combined but still slightly chunky. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain. Off the heat, return the pasta to the hot pot and add the reserved pasta water, the pesto, zucchini matchsticks, lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups of cheese and 1/2 cup of mint. Stir until well combined and saucy. Transfer the pasta to bowls. Garnish with mint (if using) and the reserved almonds.

RECIPE: Zucchini Puff

Difficulty Level: Easy
Time: 1 hour
Yield:  4-6 servings

4 Tbs. butter
1-2 cloves garlic, split
2 pounds zucchini (4 medium) note: any summer squash works, and you can mix them
2 eggs, beaten
Salt & pepper
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Slowly melt butter with garlic.  Let stand while preparing zucchini.

3. Cube zucchini. Cook until just tender in just enough water to cover.  Thoroughly drain. 

4. Mash zucchini. Add beaten eggs and melted butter (leave garlic in if you like, or remove.) Salt & pepper to taste.  Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 quart deep casserole.  Sprinkle parmesan over top and bake about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned and puffy.

RECIPE: Zucchini Mash

Difficulty Level: Easy
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Active time: 15 min
Total time: 35 min

Toss aside the mashed potatoes and welcome this appealing alternative, a spirited mix of zucchini, tender sautéed bell pepper, and refreshing scallions.

Ingredients

    * 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped (1 cup)
    * 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
    * 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
    * 6 medium zucchini/squash (1 3/4 pounds), halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
    * 1/2 cup water
    * 3/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    * 1/3 cup chopped scallion greens
    *  2 tsp. vegetable bouillion powder
    * 2 TBSP. non-fat plain yogurt

Preparation

Cook bell pepper in oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add zucchini, water, salt, and pepper and vegetable bouillion and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then cook at a brisk simmer, covered, 6 minutes. Remove lid and simmer until most of liquid is evaporated and zucchini is soft, about 15 minutes.

Pour off remaining liquid, and coarsely mash zucchini in food processor, adding 2 TBSP. yogurt.  Add scallion greens and stir, adding 1 more TBSP. butter if desired.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RECIPE: Zucchini Chips

Difficulty Level: EASY 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins

Ingredients:
1 large zucchini
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt

Note: you'll need a mandolin for this recipe...

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets (e.g. two 17" baking sheets) with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.

2. Slice your zucchini on a mandolin. Mine had 1, 2, or 3 for thickness and I used 2.

3. After you slice your zucchini, place the slices on a sheet of paper towels and take another paper towel and sandwich the zucchini slices and press on them. This helps draw out the liquid so it'll cook a bit faster.

4. Line up the zucchini slices on the prepared baking sheet tightly next to each other in a straight line, making sure not to overlap them.

5. In a small bowl, pour your olive oil in and take a pastry brush to brush the olive oil on each zucchini slice.

6. Sprinkle salt throughout the baking sheet. Do NOT over-season, in fact, it's better to use less salt initially because the slices will shrink; so if you over-season, it'll be way too salty! You can always add more later.

7. Bake for 2+ hours until they start to brown and aren't soggy and are crisp.

8. Let cool before removing and serving.

9. Keep in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.

Friday, August 14, 2015

TIPS: Escarole

Escarole is a variety of endive whose leaves are broader, paler and less bitter than other members of the endive family. Like radicchio, kale and chard, escarole is a hearty green that thrives late into the growing season. The heart of an escarole head is less bitter because the leaves haven't gotten as much sunlight. High in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K, escarole can be eaten raw or gently cooked.

Storage:
Wrap unwashed escarole in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for 4-7 days.

Washing:
Fill a large bowl or dishpan with cold water.  Add greens and swirl around vigorously. All the dirt and sand will sink to the bottom.  Lift greens out of basin and into a salad spinner or colander.  Spin greens to dry or drain as best you can and dry on towels.

General Cooking Tips:
Escarole is most often used in soups and salads.  Escarole has crisp leaves with a rather sharp, bitter taste, and should be mixed with other greens when used in salads. The inner leaves are more tender and less bitter. Escarole also pairs well in salads with fruit (pears, apples, figs, etc), and strong flavored cheeses.  You can also saute escarole and combine it with pasta and roasted vegetables.
 
 

RECIPE: Escarole and Radish Salad with Vinaigrette

Difficulty Level: EASY

Ingredients:
3 anchovies
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
Small bunch radishes
1/2 large head escarole

1. To make the vinaigrette, chop the anchovies finely and put them in a medium bowl. Add the vinegar, a good pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify the dressing. Set aside.

2. Scrub the radishes under running water and trim off the tops and tails. Slice them into thin matchsticks (you should have about 1 cup julienned radish). Put in a large salad bowl.

3. Clean and dry the escarole and slice it into 1/2-inch ribbons (you should have about 5 cups). Add to the salad bowl.

4. Toss about two-thirds of the dressing with the salad, taste and add more if you like. Serve immediately.

RECIPE: Zucchini and Avocado Soup

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Makes 4 (1 cup) servings
Per serving: 108 calories, 7.5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat),
10 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 285 mg sodium.

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable broth
3 cups chopped zucchini (about 2-3 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, divided
1 medium Hass avocado
1/8 tsp. ground cumin, optional
3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk

Cucumber Salsa (as topping for soup):
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumber (about 1 medium cucumber)
1½ Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
Salt to taste

Directions:

In large saucepan over high heat, combine broth, zucchini and 1/4 cup onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat and let simmer 6 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

To make salsa: In small bowl combine cucumber, remaining onion, cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Toss well, cover and refrigerate.

In blender, combine zucchini mix, avocado, cumin, if using, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and almond milk. Cover and purée until smooth. Leaving soup in blender container, refrigerate it for 2 hours.

When ready to serve, re-blend soup. Add additional almond milk for thinner consistency, if desired.

Pour into serving bowls. Top with salsa and serve.

Friday, August 7, 2015

RECIPE: Shamir Yogurt Soup

Difficulty Level: EASY

Note: For those of you who like tzatziki and other cucumber soups, this soup was invented by my Israeli cousins, The Shamirs. It so happens that shamir means dill in Hebrew, so this is a great pun since it uses dill as a main ingredient. Don't forget the walnuts - they are a great addition! -Aliya Cheskis-Cotel

Ingredients:
-Equal proportions yogurt to water (get a big container of yogurt, empty it into a bowl, fill container with ice water and empty the water into the bowl)
-Peeled cucumbers sliced very thinly
-1 tbsp. Oil
-1 tbsp. Vinegar (not Balsamic)
-crushed garlic
-walnuts (whole)
-a big bunch of dill (aka shamir), chopped (or cut up with scissors)
-salt
-pepper

Combine all ingredients, and enjoy!

TIPS: Cucumbers

Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 percent) water, which means eating them on a hot summer day can help you stay hydrated.

However, there's reason to eat cucumbers all year long. With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.  Plus, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator - this will extend their life by a few days as opposed to storing them on the counter.  However, they typically won’t stay fresh for more than 5 days.  One recommended method for storage is to wrap each cucumber individually in a paper towel, then put all cucumbers wrapped in paper towels inside the plastic bag.  Put the plastic bag with the cucumbers in a refrigerator and keep the bag on a  shelf toward the front of the refrigerator, which tends to be warmer.

Best uses: Peel waxed cucumbers; unwaxed ones need only a light scrubbing. Cucumbers are tastiest served raw, as in a side salad.

RECIPE: Sweet and Tangy Pineapple-Cucumber Salad

Serves 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: EASY
 
Serve as a side dish or condiment. It is also delicious rolled into lettuce wraps.

Ingredients:
• 3 cups chopped fresh pineapple
• 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
• 2 green onions, thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup roughly chopped mint
• 1/4 cup lime juice

In a large bowl, gently toss all ingredients together and serve.