Feature Summer Bounty With Veggie-Rich Meals
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When I visit a farmers’ market, everything looks so fresh and delicious that it’s hard to resist buying more than I need. Does that ever happen to you? Or do you have a garden full of ready-to-pick veggies? Canning or freezing is always an option. Or transform your abundance into tasty meals featuring lots of produce.
One of my favorite veggie-rich meals is pasta primavera. This dish originated at a high-end New York restaurant back in the ‘70s. It began with a cream, butter and Parmesan cheese sauce along with lots of vegetables. My everyday version uses heart healthy olive oil instead of cream. It’s quite versatile, so you may use any favorite vegetables you have on hand.
- 1 pound fresh pasta of choice, cooked (or 10 – 11 ounces dried)
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium summer squash, ¼ – ½” chopped
- 3 ounces mushrooms of choice, ¼” – ½” chopped
- 1 bell pepper, ¼ – ½” chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- About 1-pound ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 – 3 green onions or similar amount of chives, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup black olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
- Pistachios, chopped for garnish
Cook the pasta and cut all vegetables. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add summer squash, mushrooms, bell pepper and garlic. Stir often for several minutes, then add the tomatoes, green onions, black olives, salt and pepper. Cook down for a few minutes and then stir in the lemon zest and half of the basil leaves. Add the pasta and toss well, heating it through. When serving, garnish each plate as desired with Parmesan cheese, pistachios and remaining basil.
Serves 4 – 6
Another way to transform your produce is through stir-frying. While there are many flavor-enhancing sauces, one of my favorites is this Thai peanut-curry sauce. You can find the red curry paste and rice vinegar in the Asian food section of most supermarkets.
Thai Peanut Curry Stir Fry
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
Whisk together in a medium bowl and set aside.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 pound protein of choice, such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu, cut into ½” pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cups vegetables of choice, ½” chopped
- ½ cup dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Prepared rice for serving, preferably brown
2. In a large wok or deep, large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium- high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the add the onion and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften.
3. Add your protein and sauté, stirring until cooked through. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then the vegetables. Start with the veggies that take the longest to cook. Sauté until crisp- tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Return the protein and onion to the skillet. Add the reserved sauce. Toss to coat evenly, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. Stir in peanuts and cilantro. Serve hot over rice, topped with additional chopped peanuts and cilantro as desired.
Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members.