It is going to be a special night, but what will I cook?

Start by going to the farmers’ markets where you can always find something different; ask the vendors for ideas on how to prepare their vegetables and fruits.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

It is going to be a fun evening and you want something new, exciting and healthy for dinner — but what? Like many people, you have lost your desire to spend hours in the kitchen, yet still want to make something special.

Start by going to the farmers’ markets where you can always find something different; ask the vendors for ideas on how to prepare their vegetables and fruits. Along with the everyday classics, lots of new and unusual items are out there — cheddar, purple and Romanesco cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and beets of various colors. And have you tried purple carrots or watermelon radishes?

Do not forget the flowers and candles, along with a great bottle of organic wine. Pop in a CD of relaxing music and you are all set. Bon appétit.

 

Mixed Greens with Mustard Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups frisée (curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups torn radicchio leaves
  • 2 large Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves

Preparation:

Whisk vinegar, mustard, shallot and garlic in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Toss frisée and all remaining ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: 6 servings.

 

Fish Fillets with Asparagus and Orange in Parchment

Ingredients:

  • 4 parchment papers, cut in 15×15-inch squares
  • 4 (5- to 6-ounce) fish fillets (such as halibut or cod; each about 1-inch thick)
  • 12 fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment squares on work surface. Generously butter half of each parchment square; top buttered half of each with 1 fish fillet. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; top each fillet with 3 tarragon leaves, then 1 piece of butter. Arrange asparagus around each fish fillet; pour 1 tablespoon orange juice over each. Fold parchment over fish and asparagus, folding and crimping edges tightly to seal and enclose filling completely. Place on 2 rimmed baking sheets, spacing far enough apart. (Can be made 4 hours ahead.) Chill. Bake fish packets 17 minutes. Slide packets onto plates and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Spring Vegetables and Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained 3 times
  • 6 baby golden beets, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup baby zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Bring broth and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to boil in medium saucepan; add washed quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; fluff with fork. Cover and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring 1-1/4 cup water to boil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add beets. Cover and cook until beets are tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover; cook until all water in skillet evaporates. Increase heat to medium-high. Add olive oil and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add bell peppers, asparagus and zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add cooked quinoa, green onions and parsley to vegetables in skillet; toss to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Easy Ricotta Dessert Crème

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 to 3 drops pure almond extract, to taste
  • Fresh berries of your choice

Preparation:

Place all the ingredients except the berries in a blender; cover and blend on medium speed until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then spoon over the berries and serve. Yield: 1 serving.

 

Sources: www.gourmet.com, www.bonappetit.com and Joanne’s Recipe Box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.

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