2013-08-02 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Fresh from a garden near you
By Connie Wendell
Special to the contributor

With all the hot weather we’ve been having, gardens are thriving. Whether you have a garden in your yard or you frequent a farmer’s market, taking advantage of all the fresh vegetables and fruit is an absolute must.

The recipes that I’ve included are chock full of fresh vegetables, that are not only very healthy, but are very pretty to look at. Play with it, switch out vegetables. Be an artist and have some fun.

Fresh garden sub

Six whole wheat sub rolls; ½ cup creamy garden spread (recipe below) or soft style cream cheese with vegetables; 3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced; ½ of a medium cucumber, thinly sliced; 1 sweet pepper, seeded and thinly sliced; 3 radishes, thinly sliced; and 1 cup mixed baby salad greens.

Use a table knife to spread bottom half of rolls with creamy garden spread. Layer tomato, cucumber, pepper and radishes on spread. Top with mixed salad greens. Add top rolls and wrap in parchment paper until serving time.

Creamy garden spread

Two (6 ounce) cartons plain Greek yogurt; ¾ cup shredded carrot; 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel; 1 tablespoon snipped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley; and ¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese.

In a small bowl combine yogurt, carrot, lemon peel, parsley, feta cheese. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Stir before serving. Use this as a pizza topper, sandwich spread or a vegetable dip.

Backyard garden pizza

Two to 2 ½ cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour; 1 package pizza crust yeast or quick-rise active dry yeast; 1 ½ teaspoons sugar; ¾ teaspoon salt; 1 cup warm water (120°F to 130°F); 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil; ½ cup whole wheat flour; 1 cup baby tomato sauce; 1 to 2 cups toppers, such as chopped sweet pepper, chopped fresh spinach, thinly sliced or diced tomatoes, sautéed onions, sautéed zucchini; and 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced.

In large mixing bowl combine 1 ½ cups flour, the yeast, sugar and salt; add warm water and oil. Stir until combined, then stir vigorously for 1 minute. Stir in whole wheat flour and ½ cup of the remaining whole wheat white flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour a as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough flour to make a dough that is smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes). Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Press or roll out dough to form three oval pizza crusts or six individual pizzas. Children love to do this and to decorate their own. Grease two large baking sheets. Transfer dough to baking sheets and prick crusts with the tines of a fork. Bake crusts eight minutes or until light brown.

Spread baked crust with sauce. Add toppers and cheese. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes more or until bubbly.

Baby tomato sauce

Three cups grape tomatoes; ¼ cup finely chopped onion; 2 teaspoons brown sugar; and 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes, onion, brown sugar and ginger in a 15- by 10- by 1- inch baking pan and toss together. Roast uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes or until all tomato skins have burst and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring every 10 minutes. Place in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Makes 1¼ cups.

Have fun with these recipes and until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at cookingonpurpose@yahoo.com.

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