Category Archives: In Season

Fruit Bruschetta

Fresh, Fruity Bruschetta to Sweeten Your Summer

Bruschetta is a crunchy Italian appetizer that celebrates summertime tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil, all of which is spooned over crispy, toasted bread. With all of that goodness packed into one bite, it’s no wonder it’s so popular!

While tomatoes are lovely, the concept of bruschetta is open to interpretation. Instead of the standard tomatoes, we put some of summer’s best stone fruit in the spotlight, creating three scrumptious, tomato-free bruschetta using peaches, cherries and apricots. Enjoy one, two or all three of these sweet-meets-savoury creations for a bright, stunningly beautiful alternative to typical tomatoes.

peach-bruschetta

Peach and Radish Bruschetta
Thinly slice 2 ripe peaches and place in a medium bowl with 2 thinly sliced radishes, 1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion and 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves. Toss in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix and let peach mixture stand for 10 minutes. Garnish toasted crostini with peach mixture and serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10.

cherry-bruschetta

Cherry and Chive Bruschetta
Pit and slice 2 cups cherries and place in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup minced fresh chives, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix and let cherry mixture stand for 10 minutes. Smear extra-smooth ricotta on toasted crostini and top with cherry mixture, spooning over residual cherry juices. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10.

Apricot-Basil

Apricot and Basil Bruschetta
Slice 2 cups ripe apricots and place in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup sliced red onion and 1/4 cup finely chopped basil. In a small bowl whisk 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar with 2 Tbsp apricot jam and microwave for 30 seconds. Toss apricot mixture with jam mixture and let stand for 10 minutes. Top toasted crostini with apricot mixture and garnish with crumbled feta. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10.

Don’t get us wrong, we still love tomatoes! Here are our finest fresh tomato recipes for summertime and beyond.

gremolita-pasta

Savour Summer with Garlic Scape Gremolata ‘Pasta’

It’s officially garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the gorgeous, winding green stalks that twirl above garlic bulbs buried beneath the soil. They have a milder, less pungent garlic taste and can be stir-fried, stewed, grilled, minced, blended, turned into pesto, pickled and fermented. You can find garlic scapes at many grocery stores, farmers’ markets or for lucky gardeners, your own backyard.

Garlic scapes are a vibrant addition to classic gremolata, a zippy, chopped herb condiment that pairs well with sweet potato and zucchini “noodles,” juicy grilled shrimp and plump cherry tomatoes. This healthy dish is so fresh and zesty, it’s basically summertime in a bowl.

garlic scape shrimp 3

Garlic Scape Gremolata Grilled Shrimp over Sweet Potato and Zucchini Noodle Pasta

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
Gremolata:
6 (6-inch) garlic scapes or 6 peeled cloves garlic
1 bunch curly parsley, tough ends discarded
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Noodles:
1 large zucchini
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Shrimp:
Olive oil, as needed
15 raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails intact
3 to 4 Tbsp Gremolata (recipe above)

Assembly:
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Hulled hemp seeds, to taste

Directions:
Gremolata:
1. Add garlic scapes or garlic and parsley to a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse until fully combined, leaving some rustic texture. If you don’t have a food processor, mince ingredients finely by hand and stir together in a bowl.

garlic scape shrimp 2

Noodles:
1. Using a spiralizer, spiralize zucchini and sweet potato into spaghetti-style pasta. Or use a vegetable peeler to make thin, long strips. Or use prepared spiralized vegetable noodles, which can be found at most grocery stores.

garlic scape shrimp 1

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, followed by noodles. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. (You can skip cooking and eat raw, if you prefer.) Season with salt and pepper. Remove noodles from heat.

Shrimp:
1. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high and lightly brush with enough oil to coat grates.
2. In a large bowl, mix to coat shrimp with 3 to 4 Tbsp gremolata.
3. Grill shrimp for 3 minutes per side, or until bright pink and firm.

Assembly:
1. Place noodles in a large bowl and top with cherry tomatoes and shrimp. Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup of additional gremolata overtop bowl and gently mix everything to coat. Divide between serving bowls, sprinkle with hemp seeds, to taste and serve. Store any extra gremolata airtight in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Garlic lovers, rejoice! Here are 20 more zesty recipes featuring the flavour-packed bulb. 

Watermelon-Fattoush-Salad-feature-image

3 Delicious Ways to Use All That Leftover Watermelon

There is nothing better than a cold, crisp slice of watermelon on a hot sunny day. Biting into sweet, refreshing fruit that leaves juice dripping down your face is one of the quintessential moments of summer.

Unless you’re having a seed spitting contest, chances are, you won’t eat the whole melon in one sitting. Watermelon loses its fresh texture when it’s been in the fridge for a few days, getting soft and mealy. To make the most of this seasonal melon, you’ll need to think beyond the standard wedge. Don’t feel burdened by this extra large fruit; instead, try one of these recipes to savour those watermelon leftovers.

Watermelon Fattoush

Watermelon Fattoush Salad
Watermelon and feta salad is old news. Replace it with this fresh and flavourful summer salad. Drizzle pita with olive oil and za’atar and toast until crisp. Break the pita into bite-size crackers. If you don’t have za’atar, just use some sesame seeds and salt. Cube watermelon into 1-inch chunks and toss with sliced cucumber and some finely sliced red onion. Mix the pita, onion, cucumber and melon together with some parsley leaves. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice halloumi cheese into 1/2-inch slices. Grill it over high heat until crisp and then top the salad with it.

watermelon basil lemonade

Watermelon Basil Lemonade
Muddle 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. Blend 3 cups watermelon with 1 1/2 cups cold water. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer and transfer to pitcher. Mix in the basil and lemon mixture. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh basil, lemon and lime slices.

watermelon pops

Watermelon Kefir and Kiwi Popsicles
Blend two cups of chopped watermelon with 1 cup kefir, the juice of one lime and 1 tablespoon of honey. Slice 2 kiwis into 1/4-inch slices. Divide kiwis into 6 popsicles molds and then pour in the watermelon mixture to fill. Place in freezer until frozen through, about 4 hours.

Looking for more marvelous melon? Try these Refreshing Watermelon Recipes.

The Ultimate Grain Salad for a Summer Picnic

Combine the freshest produce of the picnic season with nutrient-rich quinoa, hearty white beans and a quick vinaigrette for a grain salad that won’t wilt or spoil on your next outdoor adventure.

Food-Netword-Canada-Picnic-Salad-Recipe-Allison-Day-5

Here, we mix crunchy quinoa, cooked beets, white beans, cucumber, basil, dried cranberries, pine nuts and dill, and mix it all up with a zesty dressing. Vibrant purple beets infuse the entire salad with a beautiful and subtle pink hue. While we love the summery flavour here, you can also  mix and match with your favourite ingredients, adding or subtracting as you see fit.

Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Food-Netword-Canada-Picnic-Salad-Recipe-Allison-Day-1

Ingredients:
3 large beets, quartered
1 cup uncooked quinoa
11/2 cups water
1 Tbsp diced preserved lemon or 1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 (19 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

Food-Netword-Canada-Picnic-Salad-Recipe-Allison-Day-2

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Add beets to a covered ovenproof casserole dish with a splash of water or bunch up in a ball of foil. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, remove beet skins and thinly slice.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1½ cups water and quinoa to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and steam covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add to a large bowl along with beets; all mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
3. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk preserved lemon or lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Reserve.
4. To cooled quinoa and beets, add beans, cucumber, basil, cherries or cranberries, pine nuts, dill and prepare dressing. Mix well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to pack and serve, up to 5 days.

Food-Netword-Canada-Picnic-Salad-Recipe-Allison-Day-4

Try this recipe for Fully-Loaded Summer Picnic Potato Salad.

3 Fun Ways to Spice up Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Save the pumpkin seeds from your Jack ‘O Lantern this fall and bake up a crunchy, high-protein snack that you’ll be eager to add on top of soups, salads — even ice cream! Including garlic honey mustard,  maple bacon, and chocolate pumpkin spice, we’ve got three fantastic flavour combos for tasty snacks that will satisfy you all week long.

Roasted-Pumpkin-Seeds

Note: One sugar (pie) pumpkin yields approximately 1/2 cup of seeds.

Prep time: 5 minutes (per recipe)
Cook time: 30 minutes (per recipe)
Makes: 1/2 cup (per recipe)

Garlic Honey Mustard Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine honey, mustard powder, garlic and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Roasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-Baking-Sheet

Maple-Bacon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp bacon fat, melted
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, bacon fat, smoked paprika and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin spice and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Blend at Home

‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice-ing just about everything edible. Well, maybe not everything, but fall is the perfect time for those warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to really shine, all of which are involved in the spice blend that goes into the popular PSL.

pumpkinspice_finished01

Making your own pumpkin spice blend is simple. In fact, it’s so easy you might even be embarrassed that you’ve never done it before. And those pumpkin spiced drinks that you pay extra for at the café? Well, you can do that at home, too. Here’s how!

pumpkinspice_start01

Pumpkin Spice Blend

One of the best things about making your own pumpkin spice at home is that fact that you can cater to your tastes. Not fond of cloves? Add less of them. Think that cardamom might be an interesting addition? Try it out! This is just a guideline, so feel free to make it your own!

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Makes: 1/2 cup pumpkin spice blend

Ingredients:
3 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

pumpkinspice_mixing02

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a small container. Stir, cover and store in a cool, dry place.
2. Use as desired.

pumpkinspice_finished02

How To Use It

Fruit pies: This spice blend needs a new name. With the word “pumpkin,” it implies it’s only good for one thing: pumpkin pie. Fruit fillings, made primarily of apples, pears, plums or peaches, are perfectly suited for this spice mix as well. I’d recommend using 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of filling.

Overnight oatmeal or hot porridge: Oatmeal and porridge can always use a little sprucing up, so why not use this blend add some coziness to your morning meal.

Squash soup or beef stew: While we tend to think of the ingredients in pumpkin spice as sweet, for many cultures around the world, it’s quite the opposite. Adding some of this spice blend to a pureed squash soup or tomato-based beef stew adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to savoury dishes. Consider it your secret ingredient!

pumpkinspice_syrup_start02

Variation: Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

Use this easy-to-make simple syrup in your morning coffee, or mixed into whipped cream for extra autumn flavour on top of your pumpkin or apple pie.

Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 cups pumpkin spice simple syrup

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups cane sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole allspice
2 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root
1 piece nutmeg

pumpkinspice_syrup_cooking

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.
2. Once sugar has dissolved, reduce to low heat and let steep on stove for 20 minutes.
3. Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe container or Mason jar and discard aromatics.
4. Store in fridge to use as desired. Will keep in the fridge for up to one month.

pumpkinspice_syrup_finished

 

Looking for more ways to use your pumpkin spice? Try these 33 Perfect Pumpkin Spice Recipes.

4 Easy Ways to Preserve the Best of Summer

In the last few weeks of summer, it can be hard to resist a basket of bright, warm peaches at the farmer’s market, or freshly picked roadside corn at $2 a dozen. If you’ve ever found yourself surrounded with more perfectly ripe produce than you could ever possibly enjoy, we hear you.

To help get us out of this pickle, we turned to Dana Harrison and Joel MacCharles, the couple behind the website Well Preserved, for their tips and recommendations on how to preserve the best of summer. The pair recently launched their first book, Batch, a guide to preserving 25 different ingredients, which includes over 200 recipes, tips and techniques.

For most preserving, you don’t need pressure cooker or a smoker to save those summer flavours. “It is way easier than you think, way funner than you think and it can take minutes,” says MacCharles, who notes that the biggest obstacle to preserving is not knowing what’s possible.

If your fridge is overflowing, these four techniques are a great place to start saving the flavours of summer for a cooler day.

canning

1. Freezing. Your first tool to making produce last longer is already in your kitchen. “The fridge and freezer are the ones that people don’t think about,” says MacCharles. While it can take up space, freezing is a super simple way to preserve food at its peak, so it can be enjoyed later in the year. Try roasting peppers and pureeing them before slipping them into the freezer for a boost of flavour come winter.

2. Fermenting. People are seeking out kimchi and kombucha for the gut-health benefits, but many don’t realize that fermentation is a type of preserving. “I think fermenting is the easiest thing you can do,” says Harrison, who recommends turning that big head of cabbage into sauerkraut. “Massage a bunch of cabbage together with salt and put it in a jar and that’s it, you’re done.”

3. Infusing. Infusing is an easy and super quick way to capture the flavours of fresh ingredients. “You could talk to many people who are infusing and they don’t think that they are preserving food,” says MacCharles, who says the technique is big in the cocktail scene, where bitters and infused alcohol are popular. Home cooks can play with infusing oils, vinegar or alcohol. A simple and easy way to make a gourmet ingredient in a flash is infusing salt. Mixing salt with an ingredient like a wilting pepper or rhubarb is a dead easy way to infuse flavour into your salt and makes for an easy flavour enhancer.

4. Canning. While most people think strawberry jam is a great place to start, MacCharles  disagrees. “It is easy to mess up yet it is totally the gateway,” he says. He recommends thinking about what you like to eat and learning the techniques from there. Harrison and MacCharles learned the hard way by starting with jam, but canned tomato sauce is where they really hit their stride. “It is on the cover of the book because that is family to us,” says MacCharles. Every fall, Harrison and MacCharles head to his parent’s house for one saucy weekend, where they typically make 160 jars in one sitting.

When in doubt, make something you know you like to eat and get the family involved with preserving for the most fun.

The Ultimate Summer Condiment (and 5 Ways to Use It)

Summer is made for spontaneous cooking; grilling what you bring home from the farmer’s market, tossing enormous salads with what you have on hand and building sky-high sandwiches to take on a picnic.

While there are lots of sauces, dressings and toppings, all you really need is one super summer condiment to finish your creations with big flavour. And we’ve got just the thing: Salsa Verde. Not the Mexican version, which packs tomatillos and heat (although that one’s good, too) — the Italian kind, loaded with fresh garden herbs, nuanced with briny capers, garlic, umami-rich anchovies and enlivened with a touch of piquant mustard. It adds a deep, savoury, herbal, rich flavour perfect for all impromptu summer eating adventures.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
Active Time: 5 minutes
Makes: ¾ cup

Ingredients:
¼ cup capers
6 anchovies
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup finely chopped basil
¼ cup finely chopped mint
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Combine capers, anchovies, garlic and mustard in a small food processor and process to a coarse paste (or do it by hand with a mortar and pestle).
2. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in olive oil, then stir in herbs. Season with a good pinch of salt, taste, and add more if desired.
3. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Salsa Verde

Here are 5 delicious ways to use up your jar of green gold:

1. Use it as a marinade for beef, lamb, chicken or halloumi cheese. Simply toss a big spoonful into a freezer bag with your protein of choice and marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.

2. Stir it into thick Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside salmon, toss with boiled potatoes for a vibrant, herb-filled potato salad, or use as a green goddess dip for garden-fresh crudités.

3. Swirl it into mayo for an herb aioli, and then use it to spread on sandwiches; chicken, lamb or beef burgers; and as a dressing for veggie-packed pasta salads.

4. Mash it into softened butter as a flavour-loaded finish for grilled steaks, lamb chops and corn on the cob. Just dab it onto piping hot food to melt before serving.

5. Thin it out with a bit more olive oil and drizzle over grilled vegetables, or use as a dressing for salads. Add a squeeze of lemon for brightness.

How to Keep Fruit Fresh

How to Keep Summer Fruit Fresh Longer

As summer stretches into long, balmy afternoons and ripens to a peak, so does the fruit in the fields and orchards. Suddenly the market is brimming with sweet, juicy nectarines, ruby red strawberries, and plump indigo blueberries. And then, poof! As quickly as they appeared, they’ll be gone. If this brief, dizzying moment of plenty sends you into a buying frenzy, you’re not alone. Once you’ve carried home your weight in peak-ripeness apricots and raspberries, how do you keep them from turning to mush before you can devour every last one? Here’s how to extend the life of your precious summer bounty.

How to make fruit last longer

Keep it cool.
Refrigerate all berries and ripe stone fruits as soon as you bring them home.  Once they’ve reached their peak, the heat (even room temperature) will cause spoilage, quickly. Perfect strawberries can go bad in a single afternoon on the counter.

Keep it dry.
Humidity is the enemy. Don’t wash your fruit until ready to eat, and store on paper towels or a clean dish towel to absorb any excess moisture. Keep it on a shelf in your fridge, not in the crisper drawer — unless you have one you can program. The standard fridge drawers offer a higher-humidity environment suited to vegetables, but unfriendly to fruit.

Give it space.
Ripe fruit is soft and injures easily. Don’t leave raspberries piled into the box they came in to be mushed under their own weight, and don’t cram juicy nectarines into a produce bag where they bash and bruise each other senseless every time you rustle them. Whenever you damage the flesh, you create an opportunity for mould.

How to Keep Fruit Fresh

Give it air.
If fruit is packed tightly, there is little air circulation, which means more humidity and faster rot. Store ripe stone fruit like peaches, plums and cherries in a shallow bowl in the fridge. Gently transfer fragile berries to a wide container lined with paper towels, keeping them in a single layer or close to it. Leave the container lid slightly ajar to let excess moisture escape.

Wash in acid.
If you’ve brought home apricots or strawberries that are still slightly under-ripe, try giving them an acid bath. Swish any whole (never cut), firm fruit in one part vinegar to 10 parts water. The solution kills off any mould spores already on the fruit, potentially increasing its longevity.

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try one of our 36 Strawberry Desserts to Celebrate Summer.

Spring Vegetable Panzanella Salad

What’s better than a light, fresh spring salad? A light, fresh spring salad with a ton of toasted bread soaked in dressing, obviously. The panzanella salad originates in Italy and is said to date back to the 16th century. I know nothing of history. But what I do know is that I love a good crouton salad.

This salad is composed of fresh spring veggies that you can find in farmers’ markets this time of year, and really showcases the vegetables. Be sure to buy local and organic when possible, but if you can’t, just be sure to find the best quality veggies near you. It really makes a world of a difference.

Spring_Panzanella-4

This salad is dressed really lightly with dill-mustard vinaigrette, which brightens and accents the asparagus, favas, grilled scallions and radishes perfectly. I’ve used pumpernickel bread in the recipe to add a deeper flavour to the salad, and pea shoots for a subtle earthy sweetness. You can always substitute those out for whatever bread and tender greens you can find — this dish is super refreshing and versatile.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 side servings or 2 large servings

888_spring-panzanella-ingredients

Ingredients:

For the croutons:
5 thick slices pumpernickel bread, about 1” thick
Olive oil
Salt

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

For the grilled scallions:
5-6 scallions
Olive oil
Salt

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 cup shelled fava beans, fresh is preferred
4 radishes, sliced thinly
1 cup pea shoots

888_spring-panzanella-salad-new

 

Directions:

For the croutons:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil for easy clean up.
2. Cut the pumpernickel slices into 1” thick cubes.
3. Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with a very, very generous amount of olive oil. You want it to completely cover the bread.
4. Transfer the bread onto a baking sheet and spread out in one layer.
5. Season with a bit of salt and bake for 12 minutes, tossing the croutons halfway through.

For the dressing:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dill, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and fresh cracked pepper until combined.
2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Set aside.

For the grilled scallions:
1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-low heat.
2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the scallions and season with a bit of salt.
3. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely charred and softened.
4. Cut the scallions into 1” long pieces.

For the asparagus:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a bowl.
2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the asparagus.
3. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath. They should still have some crunch to them.
4. Allow them to cool in the ice bath for 1 minute and then place onto a paper towel. Dab away any extra water. This will prevent the asparagus from getting waterlogged.
5. Cut the asparagus into 1” long pieces.

Spring_Panzanella-7

Dressing the salad:
1. In a large bowl, toss the croutons with 2 Tbsp of dressing and allow them to soak it up while dressing the remaining components.
2. In a separate bowl, toss the scallions, asparagus, fava beans, radish slices and pea shoots with 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp of dressing. Don’t drown the delicate veggies.
3. Transfer the veggies into the bowl with the croutons and toss gently to combine.
4. Plate and enjoy with extra dressing on the side.

888_spring-panzanella-salad-new2

Notes and Shortcuts:
– Use whatever vegetables are fresh and in season — get creative!
– The veggies and croutons can be made and prepped ahead of time, then dressed before serving. This is super helpful when you have guests coming or if you would like to take this salad as a work lunch.
– Change it up: grill the asparagus and change out the scallions for thinly sliced red onions. And if you can find ramps, it’s your lucky day. Definitely use them.
– Substitute the pea shoots for pea tendrils, micro greens or even sorrel — whatever you can find!

 

Farmer's Market Sign

Insider Tips on Scoring Deals at the Farmers’ Market

As asparagus, ramps and fiddleheads begin to sprout through freshly thawed soil, Canadians are eager to taste the first delicious harvest of the season.

Soon, farmers’ market season will be in full swing, so we caught up with market insiders Dina Rock and Kim Antonius for their insight on how to score at farmers’ markets this season.

farmers-market-sign

1. Think in season and within reason.

“First off, I know that when a lot of people go to the farmers market they might be thinking that they’ll find a deal because they’re cutting out the middleman,” says Fairmount Park Farm Market founder Kim Antonius. But she warns that isn’t necessarily the case. “Food isn’t always less expensive at the farmers’ market than it would be at your local grocery store,” she says. Grocery stores buy in massive quantities from distributors who import cash crops from warmer climates, and the local produce you buy at a farmers’ market may end up costing the same — or even a little more — than what you’ll find in big box stores. This year, however, Antonius speculates that the high American dollar may allow local markets to be more competitive.

Dina Rock, owner and chief pickling officer at Mighty Fine Brine, is also a regular farmers’ market vendor. She cautions shoppers against the temptation to bargain with farmers and artisans. “People who work in the local food movement in Canada do it mostly out of a passion for our community, our growing season and our environment,” she says. “We live in a place where we’re subject to the elements and limited in the amount that can be produced. So our incomes are already tremendously challenged. You would never walk into a Starbucks and say, ‘Can I get a discount on that latte?’ So to say, ‘I know you toiled on your farms and were up since 5 a.m. harvesting these beautiful pears…but can I get a discount on them?’ That’s frustrating. This is how people make their living — don’t try to discount that.”

fairmount-park-farmers-market

2. Fresh is best but good things can come to those who wait.

Still, there are opportunities to score at the market, particularly if freshness and nutrition are priorities. “The fresher the produce, the higher the nutrients it has,” says Antonius .“So when you’re buying something that was picked that morning, or the night prior, it has more nutrients in it than something that has been shipped from California…the other thing is that it’s so fresh, it lasts longer.”

Of course fresh, local, seasonal fruits and veggies is what the market is all about, but consider waiting week or two into the season before scooping up the latest crop. “Ramps are finally available,” notes Rock. “They’re going to be at their most expensive because they’re available right now… Wait a week or two, so that that fever pitch has died down a little bit.”

Fresh Strawberries Market

3. Get friendly with your farmers and vendors.

Rock will dole out deals from time to time — when customers buy a lot at once, she’s liable to toss in an extra goodie. But like all good things in life, the best deals are earned. “For me it comes down to building relationships,” she says. If Rock has brought something special to the market or is in the mood to trade, her regular customers — the ones who take the time to get to know her and her business — will hear about it first.

As you get to know farmers and vendors, Antonius suggests asking them to add you to any email lists they might have going. That way you’ll be the first to know about bumpers and seconds, the rare crops that farmers might sell at discount.

“One of my favourite bumper crops are fava beans,” says Antonius. “They’re amazing when they come, but they don’t last very long. If you learn how to preserve or freeze them, then you can buy larger quantities of them for less and have them when they’re out of season, too.”

Preserving is also a great way to deal with seconds; slightly damaged or ugly produce. Most farmers don’t bother bringing their seconds to market, but are often happy to part with imperfect produce at a lower rate if they know you’ll be there to buy it.

At the end of the day, even shoppers who prefer their transactions swift and silent will benefit from choosing from the farmers’ market. “Your dollars are investing in Canada’s farmland,” says Antonius. “It’s really exciting to think of yourself as a purchaser, but also an investor.”

How to Make Strawberry Jam

As much as we love a delicious gourmet meal, there’s something to be said about a good ol’ classic PB&J. What better way to take a basic sandwich to a whole new level than with rich, homemade strawberry jam?

FN_RReardin_18June

Composed of nothing but a few simple ingredients, this made-from-scratch pantry staple is a must-try. When you see how easy (and insanely delicious) it is, we’re sure you’ll be making it every other week!

Ingredients:
1 quart of ripe strawberries (normal-sized container from the grocery store)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp water

Slice_RReardin_18June2

Directions:

1. Sort through the strawberries and make sure they’re completely ripe. Green ones just won’t cut it.

FN_RReardin_18June3

2. Wash them, remove the stems, cut out the white bits and place them on a paper towel to remove the water.

FN_RReardin_18June4

3. In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, add 1 tsp water along with the strawberries. Using a wooden spoon, mash the strawberries into small pieces and add the sugar. Stirring continuously, let them come to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it sit over night.

FN_RReardin_18June5

4. The next morning, put it back on the stove. While you wait for the strawberries to come to a boil, fill two small jars with water and put them in the microwave until boiling. When the strawberries on the stove start to boil, pour the water out of the jars and fill them with the strawberry jam.

FN_RReardin_18June6

5. Seal the jars, turn them upside down, let them cool and keep them stored in the fridge.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

Made Easy: How to Cook and Peel a Pumpkin with Recipes

It’s that time of the year again when mantles and table tops are dressed with clusters of tiny pumpkins to ring in the harvest. A lot of my friends buy the miniature pumpkins at the supermarket since the big ones won’t fit in their apartments. Then once Halloween is over they get thrown out. Rather than putting good food to waste, here’s a tutorial on how to cut, peel and cook these colourful little squashes.

PumpkinPasta2_sized

Step 1: Wash
Thoroughly wash the outside of the pumpkin, removing any dirt and dust. Pat it dry with a towel.

1_Pumpkin_Wash_sized

Step 2: Stabilize
The tricky part about cutting into pumpkins or any other kind of round produce (eg: onions) is that they’ll roll around on the cutting board, making it easy for the knife to slip and cut your fingers. To solve that, using a sharp knife and slice across the top and bottom of the pumpkin to create a flat surface for it to rest on. You can also place the pumpkin on a towel to further prevent the pumpkin from rolling around when you’re cutting it.

2_Pumpkin_Stabalize

Step 3: Peel
Using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, peel away the outer skin.

3_Pumpkin_Peel_sized

Step 4: Half
Cut the pumpkin in half.

4_Pumpkin_Half_sized

Step 5: Gut
Using a large metal spoon, scrape out the pumpkin seeds (keep them for toasting later) and the stringy guts.

5_Pumpkin_Gut_sized

Step 6: Section
Cut the pumpkin halves into smaller sections, and then into smaller chunks to prepare for roasting.

6_Pumpkin_Section_sized

Step 7: Roast

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 375°F.
  2. Place the pumpkin on a lined baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add enough oil so that every chunk is slightly shiny, but not so much that there is excess oil on the pan.
  3. Bake for 45 min to an hour, or until the pumpkin is soft with a slightly crispy exterior.
  4. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

7_Pumpkin_Roast_sized

Bonus: try roasting some pumpkin seeds.
Since the oven is already on, you might as well give the seeds a roast to make a snack out of them.

Directions:

  1. Separate the seeds from the guts in a colander under cold running water.
  2. Like the pumpkin, drizzle the seeds with a very light coat of olive oil, salt, and pepper (or some cayenne for some heat).
  3. Roast them on a baking sheet (use the pan that was used to cook the pumpkin to minimize cleanup) at the same 375°F temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the seeds turn a light brown and become crispy.

PumpkinSeeds_sized

Pumpkin and Pancetta Spaghetti
This easy to make and colourful pasta is a delicious way to serve fibre-rich pumpkin. The squash’s natural sweetness compliments the salty pork while the spinach absorb all the flavours in the pan. I prefer using fusilli, penne, or any other kind of pasta with lots of nooks and crannies to hold the bits of pancetta and cheese.

PumpkinPasta_sized

Ingredients:
2 cups dried whole-wheat fusilli pasta
1/3 cup pancetta cubes
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin, cubed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
3 Tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al denté. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large oiled pan, sauté the pancetta until they start to brown and crisp. Add pasta, roasted pumpkin, and spinach leaves. Toss altogether.
  3. Add the milk and parmesan. Stir gently until the spinach leaves begin to wilt, the cheese has melted, and the milk has mostly evaporated.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to finish. Garnish with parmesan shavings. Serves 2 hungry pumpkin eaters.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Related:

Made Easy: Spiced Peach Punch

One of the best parts of summer here in Ontario is peach season, which runs from late July to late September when farmers markets and produce aisles overflow with gorgeous baskets of plump and vibrant pink peaches. You can tell if a peach is ready to eat by holding it up to your nose and smelling its juicy aroma. And when it’s ripe you better eat them fast because they tend to turn within three or four days (they’ll last another day in the fridge, but bring them back to room temperature before eating).

Typically when home cooks have an excess of peaches (since you’re more likely to buy a basket of 10 than just one) they turn to making preserves or pies, but try making this easy and quick spiced peach puree drink that can be served hot or cold as we transition to fall. Consider this as the gateway drink before you full switch to pumpkin spice lattes.

Spiced Peach Punch

peach drink

Ingredients:
8 ripe peaches
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Remove the pit from the peaches and chop them into smaller pieces. Don’t bother removing the skins. In a blender, puree the peaches and the milk until smooth.
  2. In a pot over medium-low heat, pour in the peach mixture and add in the spices. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Yields 3 to 3 1/2 cups of peach puree, depending on how juicy the peaches are.
  4. Serve hot in a mug like an apple cider, or pour some over oatmeal. Alternatively, chill in the fridge for a spicy, pick-me-up breakfast smoothie or serve it as a chilled appetizer soup with fresh mint leaves as garnish.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Related:

Easy Mini Blueberry Pancakes

FN_RReardin_2July

To food lovers, Canada Day doesn’t just mean red and white getup, fireworks, and a few cold ones. July 1st is also the unofficial start of Blueberry Month. And because it would feel awfully wrong not to take advantage of these tiny, anti-oxidant-packed berries at their finest, we’re starting the season off right with one of our easiest, tastiest and most crowd-pleasing recipes.

Whether you’re hosting Sunday brunch or just cooking up an indulgent breaky for one, mini blueberry pancakes are sure to please. Made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry, these little bites are super easy. So why not whip up a small batch for a weekend pick-me-up, or a large batch as part of a morning feast with the fam? Just make them ahead of time, and slip them in the oven right before serving.

Ingredients:

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

Directions:

1. Beat the egg in a large bowl, and then add the milk and beat again.

FN_RReardin_2July2

2. Add the dry ingredients, and beat until smooth. Add blueberries to batter and stir.

FN_RReardin_2July3

3. Heat a lightly buttered, medium-sized frying pan on medium-high heat. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of batter at a time onto the griddle to make mini pancakes, and brown on both sides.

FN_RReardin_2July4

4. Pile them into small stacks or just serve as bites. Keep them in a heated oven until all pancakes have been made, and serve hot with maple syrup and/or butter.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

 

Related:

Lemon Rosemary Risotto with Fiddleheads and Spot Prawns

Okay, so I realize this may be kind of a lame move, using two ingredients that have very short seasons (fiddleheads and spot prawns), but I spent a good part of last week in Vancouver and just had to pop by the Granville Island Market! How was I supposed to resist fresh spot prawns (caught that morning!) and fiddleheads? Feel free to substitute with a different seafood (scallops would be great) and maybe some fresh green beans if you can’t locate these seasonal guys.

888_rosemary-risotto-fiddleheads

Lemon Rosemary Risotto with Honey Roasted Fiddleheads and Spot Prawns

Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the Risotto
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cream
2 shallots (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup chardonnay
2 cups arborio rice
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1/4 cup fresh rosemary (loosely chopped)
6 spot prawns
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the Honey Roasted Vegetables
1 1/2 cups fiddleheads (soaked, blanched and cooled)
1 cup zucchini (halved, 1/2 sliced)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Start by heating up the broth and cream in a medium-sized pot. Just before it starts to simmer, reduce to low heat and keep warm on stove. In a large pan, cook the shallots and garlic in a bit of olive oil on medium-high heat until soft, about five minutes. Pour in the white wine and let it reduce by three quarters. Next, stir in the dry arborio rice and let the mixture cook for another few minutes. Start ladling the hot broth into the pan, one cup at a time. Stir regularly and, once the liquid is almost completely absorbed by the rice, add some more. Continue until you’ve used all of the broth and the risotto is al dente, about 25-30 minutes. Finally, mix in the lemon juice, zest and rosemary. Season with some pepper (salt if needed) and keep warm on stove.

2. For the spot prawns, simply boil some salted water in a large pot and toss them in, shell and all, letting them cook for one minute. They’re just like big shrimp, really, but much tastier! Once they’re cooked, their bright colours make them good for garnishing. You can twist them in half, peel the shell off the tail and (this will sound gross) suck out the innards of the head. Surprisingly sweet and delicious. Try it sometime!

3. If you like multi-tasking like I do, you can roast the vegetables while the risotto is cooking. Place the first five roast vegetable ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add some salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil then toss with hands or tongs to combine. Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Finally, gently stir the vegetables into the risotto and dish out to your dinner guests! Top with a plump spot prawn tail and a head for shooting back! Done and done! Man, typing up this recipe is making me think I need another trip out to the west coast ASAP!