01 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Beets

Many beets are sold in bunches with the tops still attached, while others are sold with the tops removed. Look for beets that are firm, round, with a slender tap root (the large main root), a rich, color, and smooth over most of the surface. If beets are bunched, you can judge their freshness fairly accurately by the condition of the tops. Badly wilted or decayed tops indicate a lack of freshness, but the roots may be satisfactory if they are firm.

Avoid elongated beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface — these will be tough, fibrous, and strong-flavored. Also avoid wilted, flabby beets — they have been exposed to the air too long.

As the beet greens are very nutritious, cook them as you would fresh spinach leaves.

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25 May Tips for Buying Fresh Tomatoes

  • Look- Don’t worry about tomatoes with weird shapes. Even cracked skin is okay, but leaking juice and soft spots are not.
  • Feel -Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size.
  • Smell -Tomatoes should smell earthy and tomato-y, never musty or flat

But above all never refrigerate tomatoes. Refrigeration will actually dull tomatoes’ flavor. Exposing a tomato to below 50 degrees may not allow sugars and acids to fully develop. Storing them at room temperature is ideal.

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25 May Tomato-Corn Pie

Tomatoes and corn have a natural affinity for one another: the slight acidity of tomatoes balances the sweetness of the corn. Here they partner in a delicious quiche-like pie. The dough is very forgiving and bakes up into a sturdy shell that’s great for just about any savory pie or tart. Perfect for a summer brunch or try it with a tossed salad for a light supper.

Makes: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients
Crust

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons cold water

Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear; see Tip) or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat milk

Directions

1.  To prepare crust: Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add oil and water and gradually stir them in to form soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

3.  Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably deep-dish, and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim any overhanging crust. Line the dough with a piece of foil or parchment paper large enough to lift out easily; fill evenly with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil or paper and weights. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

4.  To prepare filling: Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Sprinkle half the cheese over the crust, and then layer half the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle with corn, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the egg mixture over the top.

5.  Bake the pie until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

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18 May Quinoa Primavera

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, woody ends discarded, spears cut into 1‐inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra‐virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups water (for deeper flavor substitute chicken stock, vegetable stock, or combo of white wine and stock)
  • 1 Lemon (juice and zest)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Rinse quinoa under cold running water and drain. Combine water (or stock/wine, as you wish) and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add onion and asparagus. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is tender and bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.

5.  Add garlic, thyme, peas and shitakes, continue cooking for another minute. Stir in chicken and cooked quinoa.

6.  Add the spinach and stir until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon juice.

7.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shaved cheese and lemon zest. Serve immediately. Serves 4

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11 May Tips for Grilling Vegetables

Cook vegetables over direct heat at medium-high temperature, and remember to turn about halfway through.

Start clean. Prevent sticking by beginning with a clean grill and well-oiled vegetables.
Don’t move. When you first place vegetables on the grates, resist the urge to shift them around until they’re nicely seared and lift off easily.
Manage the heat. Place the heartier vegetables, like onions and bell peppers, in the hottest spots on the grill. Keep more delicate produce such as tomatoes over places with less heat.

Summer Squash
How to Prep- Cut into 1/4-inch-thick lengthwise slices and brush with oil.
How to Grill- Cook until you see even grill marks, about 6 minutes. Squash should be pliable when bent with tongs, tender when pierced.

Bell Peppers
How to Prep-Cut into 2-inch-wide lengthwise slices and toss in oil.
How to Grill-Cook until charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Peppers should be moist, fragrant, pliable when bent with tongs, tender when pierced.

Plum Tomatoes
How to Prep-Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and toss with oil.
How to Grill-Cook until charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Skin should have begun to peel back, and flesh should be soft.

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04 May Penne with Mixed Grilled Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces penne
  • 1 cup diced grilled eggplant (from about 3 grilled lengthwise slices)
  • 1 cup diced grilled zucchini or other summer squash (from about 5 grilled lengthwise slices)
  • 1/2 cup diced grilled bell peppers (from about 3 grilled lengthwise slices)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 4 stalks grilled asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1.  Cook penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, as package label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.

2.  Combine grilled vegetables, olives, tomatoes, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables with pasta in pot, adding enough water to create a thin sauce. Divide among 4 plates, top with basil and serve.

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