August 2010
Vol. 9 Issue 8

Featured Recipes

Avocado & Pasta Salad

This delicious and simple salad was served several times on the luncheon salad bar during our July 2010 Costa Rica Adventure trip. The success of this dish really depends on the freshness of the avocados and tomatoes you use, making summer the perfect time of year to enjoy this salad.  Add an assortment of other vegetables and herbs as they are available from your garden. This is a higher fat salad because of the avocado, so adding more vegetables will increase the amount of servings and accordingly reduce the amount of fat per serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Servings:  4

3 cups dried whole wheat or brown rice pasta (medium shells work well)
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
2-3 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 medium avocados, peeled and chopped
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta to al dente. When pasta is done rinse with cold water. Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl and add salt and pepper. Add pasta and stir well.

Hints: Slivers of fresh basil are a fresh tasting addition to this salad. Thin slices of fresh zucchini and/or cucumbers may also be added.

Watermelon Ginger Soup

During the July 2010 Costa Rica Adventure trip we always had a choice of two soups for both the lunch and dinner meals. One of the soups was hot and the other a chilled choice. This watermelon soup was a big hit!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Chilling Time: 3-4 hours
Servings: 4

¼ cup finely chopped mild onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons water
8 cups seeded, cubed watermelon
2 teaspoons slivered fresh basil (optional)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan with the water. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat.

Puree the watermelon in batches in a food processor and add to the onion mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Pour into a covered container and chill for 3 to 4 hours until very cold. Mix in the fresh herbs and season with freshly ground pepper, if desired, before serving.

Melon Salsa

Another treat from the July 2010 Costa Rica Adventure, and just in time to make use of the many melon choices available now in Farmer’s Markets around the country. Use any combination of melons that you like for this delicious salsa. Use this as a topping for fresh garden greens, on top of the Creamy Cauliflower Spread or the Avocado & Pasta Salad, rolled up in a wrap with one of the many spreads from the June 2010 newsletter, or just enjoy it plain in a bowl.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Servings: variable

3 cups seeded chopped melons
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/8 cup minced mild onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ tablespoon agave nectar
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the melons, jalapeno, onion and cilantro in a bowl. Mix the agave nectar into the lime juice and pour over the melon mixture. Toss well to mix. Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour to allow flavors to combine.

Hints: Chop the melons in about ½ inch cubes for the most versatility.

Grilled Portobello Burger

I plan to make grilled Portobello mushroom burgers for our family’s Labor Day party. They are delicious and meaty and easy to prepare on a gas or charcoal grill. Serve them on a whole wheat bun with your favorite toppings. I like to have a variety of spreads to smear on the buns before adding lettuce, sliced tomatoes and grilled onions.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Grilling Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

4 large Portobello mushrooms
¼ cup soy sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
4 thick slices of red onion
Thickly sliced tomatoes
4 whole wheat burger buns
Assorted spreads (see hints below)

Clean the mushrooms well and remove the stem. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Season with several twists of freshly ground pepper. Add the mushrooms and onion slices, turning several times to coat with the marinade. Let soak in the marinade for about 30 minutes, turning several times. Remove from marinade, place on a plate and reserve the marinade for brushing.

Heat a gas grill to medium high or light a charcoal grill.

Grill the mushrooms and the onions for about 5 minutes on each side, brushing with extra marinade during grilling.

To serve, on one side of the bun lay a lettuce leaf, tomato slice, grilled onion and top with the mushroom cap. Apply about 2 tablespoons of the spread of your choice to the top of the bun and set on top of the mushroom. Pick up with your hands and enjoy this delicious feast!

Hints: Some of our favorite spreads for these hearty burgers are: Red Pepper Aioli, November 2007 newsletter; Cilantro Garlic Aioli, August 2002 newsletter; Creamy Dill Tofu Dip, September 2005 newsletter. Or just keep it simple and use some ketchup and mustard as your spread.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

If you have tomatoes growing in your garden this year and way too many to eat them fresh out of hand or use in salads or sandwiches, make them into this delicious, fresh tomato sauce.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 to 2 hours
Servings: makes about 6 cups

5 pounds whole tomatoes
2 onions, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make a large X through the bottom of the skin of each tomato and plunge each one into the boiling water until skins are slightly loosened, about 15-30 seconds. (See hints below.) Transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let rest for 1 minute, then peel skin off with your fingers. Cut tomatoes into quarters, cut off the core, remove the seeds, if you wish, and chop, reserving the juices.

Place the onions in a large non-stick pot, cook and stir until they begin to brown slightly, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir for another minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices along with the basil and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened to desired consistency.

Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and a bit of sea salt, if you wish.

Hints: The longer you make the X in the skin of the tomato, the easier it will be to peel. Extend it all the way around to the core, if you wish. Just cut through the skin, not into the flesh. Work with about 3 tomatoes at a time in the boiling water and ice water. Fresh tomatoes may also be peeled with a serrated peeler if you wish to skip the boiling/ice water step.

What is really amazing about this sauce is that it can also be made with whole frozen tomatoes. So when you have a bumper crop of tomatoes and you don’t feel like canning them, just freeze them instead. Remove the core from the tomatoes first and then just freeze them whole. When ready to use, run each one under warm water and rub the skin off. Thaw in the refrigerator, then chop when thawed. Frozen tomatoes do not peel well with a serrated peeler.

If you do not have a large non-stick pot, just add a small amount of water to the pot before adding the onions and proceed as directed above. This may also be made with dried basil and oregano, about a teaspoon of each, but the flavor won’t be as fresh tasting. Some tomato crops are not a sweet as others and you may find that a pinch of sugar will help to mellow your tomato sauce if it seems too tart.

Baked Kale Chips

I have an abundance of kale in my garden this year, so besides adding it to everything I can imagine, I have started making kale chips. They are crunchy and delicious-a guilt-free snack!!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: variable

Fresh kale leaves
Seasonings as desired (see hints below)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Wash the kale well and leave some of the water clinging to the leaves. Strip the leaves from the thick stems and cut into uniform sized pieces. (Mine are usually about 2 x 2 inches.) Place on a non-stick baking sheet or on top of parchment paper on a regular baking sheet and sprinkle with seasonings of your choice (do not oil the pan or spray kale with oil). Bake for about 30 minutes until crispy. Store in a tightly covered container to keep them crispy; they taste best the day that they are made.

Hints: I usually sprinkle mine with Parmesan cheese substitute (see the June 2010 newsletter) and some red pepper flakes. Try spraying them with a light coating of Bragg Liquid Aminos or balsamic vinegar before baking, or just a light dusting of sea salt. They are easy to re-crisp if you don’t eat them all right away, just put them back in the oven for a short time.

Creamy Cauliflower Spread

I can’t remember where I saw the idea for this spread made from cauliflower. I have a small post-it with some brief directions written on it, so today I tried it and, Wow, was I surprised! This makes a light and creamy spread for bread, pita, or crackers, possibly topped with strips of roasted red pepper and fresh basil leaves. Or use it as a dip for garden fresh vegetables.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: makes about 2 cups

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon lime juice
Dash sea salt

Cut the cauliflower into florets and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Place in a food processor, add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until using.

Hints: I used prepared yellow mustard in my processing, but Dijon or stone-ground would also work well. This will keep in the refrigerator for a least a week and it tastes even better the day after it is made.

Tiffany’s Ptitim Soup
By Tiffany Hobson, McDougall’s Executive Assistant

I was inspired to make this soup after one of our chef’s at the Flamingo Hotel, Abraham Ramirez, made a different variation of this for the restaurant.

Preparation Time: 10-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6-8

7 ¼ cups water
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup yellow split peas
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, quartered
2 yellow squash, quartered
1/8-1/4 cup Israeli couscous

Place ¼ cup of the water in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the thyme, Italian seasoning, oregano, marjoram and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Add the remaining water, split peas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, celery and carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash and couscous. Continue cooking on low heat for an additional 20 minutes. Season with a bit of sea salt, if desired. Serve hot.

You may increase the amount of Israeli couscous to 1 cup. This will seem like a soup at first, but the couscous will absorb all the water and this will turn into a beautiful side dish. You may also serve this over lettuce or wrap in lettuce leaves and add your favorite hot sauce (Sriracha pairs beautifully with this). If making this a side dish, you may also want to add 1 cup of corn and chop 2 red bell peppers. This variation may be served hot or cold.

Tiffany’s Strawberries and Beets
By Tiffany Hobson, McDougall’s Executive Assistant

I have been making this recipe for years. You can eat this as an entrée, place it on top of salad or use this as a side dish.

Preparation Time: 10-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

4 beets
5 strawberries, rinsed and quartered
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Place beets in boiling water with the skins on. When you can pierce a knife through the beets, they are done. Place beets in a colander and rinse with cool water. Remove the skins. Quarter beets and set aside. Put the beets and remaining ingredients in a small non-stick pan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Continue cooking until the balsamic vinegar is reduced and has a thick syrup coat over the beets and strawberries. You may enjoy this hot, or refrigerate until needed.

Roast the beets instead of boiling them and follow the recipe above.

Tiffany’s Red Onions

By Tiffany Hobson, McDougall’s Executive Assistant

I like to have these on hand because they are so versatile. Use them as a topping for salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, burritos, potatoes, etc. You get the idea!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: None
Servings: 4

1 red onion, finely chopped
Balsamic vinegar

Place the red onion in a ramekin, or other small container. Pour balsamic vinegar over the onions until they are completely covered. Cover and refrigerate.

Tiffany’s Candied Walnuts
By Tiffany Hobson, McDougall’s Executive Assistant

A favorite amongst all my friends! Make sure you hide these until needed, or you’ll have to make more!

Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 6

2 cups walnuts
¼ to 1/3 cup maple syrup

Place walnuts in a non-stick pan. Pour the maple syrup all over the walnuts. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently. When the maple syrup starts to bubble, continue stirring constantly. As the maple syrup evaporates, the walnuts will be coated with a glaze and will become “sticky.” The end product is a thick glaze that may also look crystallized. Place in a container until needed.

Tiffany’s Beet Salad
By Tiffany Hobson, McDougall’s Executive Assistant

This salad is easily thrown together and is a wonderful start to a meal or great all by itself!

Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 4-6

4-6 cups Mixed salad or Arugula
2 ears of roasted corn on the cob
Tiffany’s Strawberries and Beets (recipe above)
Tiffany’s Red Onions (recipe above)
Tiffany’s Candied Walnuts (recipe above)
1 teaspoon Champagne Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place corn on oven rack, with husks on, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and let roast until corn is done. Peel husks and cut corn off the cob. Either on an individual plate, or in a big bowl, place the greens of choice, corn, Strawberries and Beets, Red Onions and Candied Walnuts and toss. Lightly drizzle the champagne vinegar over the entire salad and enjoy!

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