Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fresh Produce (with recipes!)

For today's entry, I'd like to talk about my second favorite thing in the world. 


I never seen to get enough of it! I know it may seem a little freaky ( I mean come on, fennel looks intimidating). But it's surprisingly easy to use and eat. 

For beginners, I suggest starting off easy. One of my favorite ways to get vegetables into my meal is to just keep adding them in. I make my own marinara sauce (I'll put my recipe at the end for ya). So that's already full of delicious, easy to eat veggies, and then when I make my pasta I try and use pasta that is either whole grain or made with vegetables inside it. Then, when I'm heating up my sauce, I'll toss in some spinach to wilt. Delicious, cheap, and a great source of vitamins and fiber. 

For those seeking a little more fun with your vegetables, try stuffing something! I LOVE stuffed zucchini pizzas! Again, all these recipes will be on the bottom. Zucchini pizza gives you the taste of all the cheese and sauce, with less than 100 calories per serving. You seriously cannot go wrong with these. If you don't like zucchini for whatever crazy reason, there's always red bell peppers! They work well for being vessels for quinoa or brown rice baked inside. Yummy! I'll put a recipe for that in here too. 

For those who are REALLY adventurous and want to try something completely off the wall,  I suggest ratatouille. It's a French dish with eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper in a tomato sauce. I'll put a recipe for it at the bottom. :) It takes a little effort with all of the slicing, but with a mandolin, it's a breeze!

I'll post another blog today with more information about what the heck to do with some of the veggies that are currently in my food bank. So come in, take some, and I'll teach you what to do with it!

Emily's Marinara:
1 can of stewed tomatoes (with juice)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
2 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
1 bay leaf
1 C red wine (or red wine vinegar, but I really like to use a red wine like a Syrah or even a Malbec)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan. Stir in tomato paste, add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least an hour. The longer it simmers, the better it is. Remember to take out the bay leaf before serving!

Stuffed Zucchini Pizzas:

2 pounds of medium sized zucchini 
1 8 oz can pizza sauce or 1C of marinara 1/4 cup bread crumbs 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1 tsp salt1 tsp pepper1-2 tsp dried oregano, crushed to release the flavorcouple of cloves of garlic, finely minced (Or a teaspoon or so of garlic powder.)dash of crushed red pepper flakes (If you like it hot!)

Clean and slice each zucchini in half. Scoop out the insides with a spoon and set the zucchini shells on a lined pan.
Preheat your oven to 425º. Clean and slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside part with a spoon (safe the insides!) and put them on a lined baking pan. Chop up the inside part that you took out and add sauce, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and the seasonings. Spoon the mix into the hollowed out zucchini. Top with the mozzarella cheese. Put them in the oven and bake for 20-25 min. 
Stuffed Red Bell Peppers:
4 medium red bell peppers
4 1/2 cups fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently cut the tops off of the bell peppers with a knife and scoop out the insides with a small spoon. Flip the peppers upside down on a paper towel to drain some of the water and juice off. After a few minutes of draining, gently rub olive oil on both the inside and outside of the bell peppers. Place the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
While the bell peppers are baking, cook spinach and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until the spinach becomes wilted. Add quinoa and season with salt and Italian seasoning. Once the bell peppers are done baking, take them out of the oven and stuff them with the spinach and quinoa mixture with a spoon. Place the stuffed bell peppers back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle tops of peppers with salt and serve.

1 small eggplant
1 zucchini (Italian squash)
1 summer squash
1 red bell pepper
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp oregano
1/4C olive oil
1 8oz can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice eggplant, zucchini, squash and bell pepper into 1/8″ rounds. Add to a large bowl with minced garlic. Sprinkle with spices and seasonings. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat a large sautée pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. When pan is warm, add 1/3 of your vegetables. Tossing and flipping until slightly browned. Repeat with remaining olive oil and vegetables.
In individual dishes (or one large oven safe dish), spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange vegetable slices as desired. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until tender and sauce is bubbly.
Serve warm with bread or as a side dish to a larger meal.

These are only some recipes I could think of off the top of my head that are easy and delicious. I'll post another blog sometime today or tomorrow going through all of the produce I have here telling you what to do with it.

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