Beth & Friends & Food: March 27th

This week Jan is giving you tips and tricks to picking out the perfect produce and then she goes a step further with giving a pot of these veggies that can make 5 difference recipes. Sounds perfect for a busy family. 

When it comes to picking out produce it can be stressful but use Jan's tips to help you pick the perfect fruit or veggie. 

Cantaloupe:
1) Great fragrance is the hallmark of a good rip cantaloupe.
2) They are best between June and September.
3) Arizona is the second in the nation in cantaloupe growing next to California.
4) Color and fragrance - not softness and stem end - indicates ripeness.
5) Cantaloupes with tighter netting has a firmer, crisper texture.
6) Also, the younger it is, the smoother the netting. Thicker and bumpier netting means riper.
7) IMPORTANT: If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. A mature cantaloupe will be well netting with a smoothly round. 

Watermelon:
1) Look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground, a yellow or a cream-yellow color (not white) spot suggests ripeness.
2) Many rely on the old thumping test as an indicator of ripeness, even though most of us really aren't sure what we are listening for. Many produce experts have likened watermelon thumping to kicking the tires on a car. "It makes you feel good when you do it, but you don't really know what it will accomplish."

Chayote:
Tastes like a summer squash when cooked (steamed, microwave or baked until fork tender like potatoes) or like a cucumber and pear if eaten raw for salads and snacking. If eaten raw, peel the outside skin. 

Bananas:
As soon as you break off a banana from the group, wrap the stem in plastic wrap to prevent from browning and spotting. It will extend the life of the banana without browning for a couple of days. 

RECIPES

The French call it Ratatouille. Italy's version is Pepperonata. No mater where you live in the world, a steaming skillet of seasonal vegetables flavored with simple herbs and good extra virgin olive oil is the quintessential "hearth and home" comfort food. What if you could add some mileage to that dish? What if you could carry the flavor of those veggies into several more meals. 

The inspiration for this idea come from research that shows that the average American household throws away $600 a year in leftover food. Jan's hope is that this recipe and these tips inspire you to give your leftovers a makeover. 

Pepperonata/Ratatouille

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup olive oil

I large sweet yellow onion, cut into 1 1/2 chunks

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large leek, cleaned and sliced into 1 inch chunks

5-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (or 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half)

1 large eggplant (or two medium), peeling and cut into 2 inch cubes

2 red bell peppers cut into chunks

2 zucchini cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup broccoli flowerets

1 fresh jalapeno, chopped fine

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dash of red pepper flakes, optional

DIRECTIONS

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, and leeks in olive oil until lightly brown. 

Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes (1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes can be used).

Add eggplant, red peppers, zucchini, broccoli, basil, chicken brother, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and cover, cooking for 15 minutes on low heat. 

Uncover and gently stir. Cook for 15 minutes longer. Vegetables should be thick with a little brother. Serve over rice or pasta. 

Leftover Idea #1 - Chicken Pepperonata

Grill, bake or pan fry chicken breast or large boneless chicken thigh. 

Place a couple of teaspoons of the Pepperonata broth in a pie pan, baking dish or small pan. 

Place the cooked chicken on top. 

Add several tablespoons of Pepperonata over chicken. Top with a few shreds of cheese. 

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. 

Leftover Idea #2 - Steak Pizza

In a small baking sheet, spread out refrigerated pizza dough. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spread Pepperonata over dough, sprinkle with leftover steak or chicken, cheese and return to oven. 

Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. 

Leftover Idea #3 - Minestrone Soup

In a medium saucepan, add 2-3 cups of Pepperonata and 2 cups of water or chicken/vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil for delicious instant Minestrone Soup. Sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese. 

Leftover Idea #4 - Pepperonata Fritatta

In a 6-7 inch skillet, on medium heat, add 1 and 1/2 cup Pepperonata. 

Whisk together 3 eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. Pour over the Pepperonata. 

Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese over top. Turn heat to low and cover until eggs have set up. 

Jan has made an amazing video to help you make these recipes. See it below. 

 

For more about Jan and even more of her great recipes, check out her website HERE.

Make sure you join us next Monday at 8:10 for another awesome recipe. 

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