Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bruschetta - Refreshing, Tasty & Simple!

One way the Farmers Market welcomed the tomato season was via some tasty bruschetta, using ingredients found at the market. Add balsamic vinegar and a good quality olive oil, you've got a tasty treat all your guests will rave over.

(Note: our bruschetta was made with balsamic vinegar. The recipe below can easily be accommodated to include it.)

Recipe and nutrition information courtesy of: Medicine.Net

Quick Bruschetta


  • 3 fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 4 slices sourdough, French or country-style bread, about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash the tomatoes, then cut down the middle with a plastic knife and remove most of the seeds and juice. Chop into small pieces, and add to small bowl.
2. Tear or chop basil into small pieces, then add to tomatoes in bowl, along with the oregano and garlic.
3. Toast bread slices to desired brownness. Spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the toasted bread slices, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top of each tomato-topped bread slice.

4 servings

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 146 calories, 3.5 g protein, 19.5 g carbohydrate, 6.4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 181 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Did you say soup? In this heat?

Yup, soup in the summer! While we all get excited by the fresh produce that is available from the farmers market at this time of the year, the excitement for cooking when it's hot tends to wane. Well, we've got the recipe for you - gazpacho!

According to Wikipedia "Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup originating in the southern region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its refreshing qualities."

So if you miss Mary Knight from the Mettler Center preparing this on the morning news on Thursday (
ABC News Channel 15), here's the recipe. Thank you Mary! (And here's the video on how to make it: Farmers Market Gazpacho)

Farmer’s Market Gazpacho

This recipe calls for three types of vinegar; but any combination will work.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

6 cups coarsely chopped tomato (about 3 pounds)
1 (32-ounce) bottle low-sodium tomato juice
2 cups coarsely chopped peeled cucumber (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 1/4 cups finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon basil-flavored vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Cover and chill.

CALORIES 95 (23% from fat); FAT 2.4g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.5g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17.3g; SODIUM 321mg; PROTEIN 3.1g; FIBER 3.7g

Friday, July 2, 2010

Squash Blossoms - Five Flavorful Ways

Have you spotted these colorful blossoms at our farmers market? One of our vendors has these orange beauties, but he often gets questioned, "How do I cook them?" According to the University of Illinois Extension website you can stuff them. The Seasonal Chef website adds these tasty options: put them in a frittata and quesadillas, make them into hush puppies, or put them in a soup. Not quite as many recipes as the squash itself, but nonetheless impressive.

Since going local is always good, here's the recipe for the stuffed version:

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Use your favorite bread or meat stuffing or use the ricotta/mushroom stuffing below. Or skip the stuffing, and simply batter the blossoms and fry. The batter must be chilled for 30 minutes. Or it can be made in advance and refrigerate it for up to two days. If it is too thick after refrigeration, add a few drops of water to return to original consistency.

The Batter

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free chilled milk, beer or water

The Stuffing

1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoon mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, minced
16 large squash blossoms, washed
Canola oil for frying

  1. Prepare the batter first. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in milk, beer or cold water until smooth. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored for up to two days.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. In a bowl combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, mushrooms and basil. Open the blossoms and spoon about one 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each. Avoid overfilling the blossoms. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

  3. Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over high heat until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown within seconds.

  4. Briefly dip each stuffed blossom into the batter, then carefully slip into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides, about three minutes total cooking time. Add only as many blossoms at a time as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Transfer with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain briefly.

  5. Sprinkle with salt, if desired and serve immediately. Serves 4.