Tiny Fruits and Vegetables...Big Nutrition!

Sep 14 14:12 2008 Hillary Marshak Print This Article

You know organic is better for you than regular produce and you've probably seen the list of the "Dirty Dozen" in your produce aisle too. But did you know the size of your produce has something to do with how nutritious it is for you?

You know organic is better for you than regular produce and you've probably seen the list of the "Dirty Dozen" in your produce aisle too. But did you know the size of your produce has something to do with how nutritious it is for you?

If you didn't,Guest Posting don't be surprised as new research has just indicated that the larger your fruits and vegetables, the less packed they are with antioxidants and nutrients. This is because they have more water, which dilutes the quantity and efficiency of these important food elements. You can use these tiny fruits and vegetables in a number of recipes and ways. One of my favorite things to make with fruit is cobbler. As it doesn't have a bottom crust it's easier than pie and you don't have to frost it so it makes a quick dessert as well. I tried Wolfgang Puck's Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble as a dessert this summer and loved the blend of the two fruits as well as the ease of assembly.

Cook rhubarb and berries together and they develop a beautiful pinkish-red color, their textures and flavors intermingling to achieve a wonderful balance of sweet and sour, with each tasting becoming somehow more delicious than it is on its own. One taste of the resulting dessert, and you'll be convinced that you, too, are a culinary wizard.

Ingredients

RHUBARB-STRAWBERRY FILLING:

1 lb. rhubarb stalks (approximately 8 stalks), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 pints large ripe strawberries, stemmed and quartered

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for preparing baking dish

1/2 C. sugar, plus extra for preparing baking dish

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2 Tbs. lemon juice

CRUMBLE TOPPING:

2 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 C. light brown sugar

1/2 C. rolled oats

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

1 quart good-quality vanilla or strawberry ice cream (optional)

Directions

First, prepare the rhubarb-strawberry filling: Trim away and discard any traces of leaves from the rhubarb stalks, then cut the stalks into 2-inch chunks. Stem and hull the strawberries and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Set the berries and rhubarb aside. With some butter, coat the bottom and side of a 10-inch diameter baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle some sugar over the butter all over the bottom and side, then tap out excess sugar back into the rest of the sugar. In a nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together the 1/2 C. sugar, flour and ginger. With a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and, with the knife tip, scrape the tiny seeds from inside the vanilla bean into the mixing bowl. Add the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice and 2 Tbs. of small butter pieces. Toss all the ingredients together and empty them into the prepared baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the center. In a clean mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Crumble Topping. With your fingertips, massage and press them together until the butter completely blends with the other ingredients to form a crumbly paste. Evenly crumble the topping over the rhubarb-strawberry mixture in the baking dish. Put the baking dish in the oven and bake until the crumble is golden brown and the rhubarb-strawberry mixture is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Then, with a large serving spoon, scoop the crumble into individual serving bowls. If you like, top each serving with a scoop of ice cream. Serves 8.Easy Free-Form Plum TartPeach CobblerStrawberry Cream Pie

Vegetables can be used in a variety of great dishes including this hearty stew by Wolfgang Puck.Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables

One of the best, easiest, most economical ways I know to impress people with your cooking skills is to make a pot of stew. Yes, old-fashioned, home-style stew. It's the perfect dish for casual winter dinner parties and family meals. A pot of stew simmering slowly on your stove fills your kitchen with one of the best aromas you could imagine for a cold winter day. It promises great flavors, soothing warmth, and all the satisfaction you need to power you through the snow or rain.

Ingredients

2 lb. beef chuck

1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 C. dry red wine

2 C. homemade beef stock or good quality canned beef broth

1/4 C. balsamic vinegar

1 bay leaf

6 to 8 fresh large sage leaves, washed and dried

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 lb. Roma tomatoes, cored, blanched briefly in boiling water, peeled, seeded and diced

1/4 lb. thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 lb. button mushrooms, trimmed and wiped clean with a damp cloth

2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley

Directions

Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, trimming away excess fat and any gristle. In a plastic food storage bag large enough to hold all the meat with room to spare, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add the meat to the bag and shake until all the beef cubes are coated with the flour mixture. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil. Working in batches to prevent overcrowding, brown the beef cubes on all sides, removing from pan as browned.

In the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and thyme leaves and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the wine to the pan and bring it to a boil, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Return the meat to the pan. Add the stock or broth, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaf. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer, and cook for 1 hour. On a cutting board, stack the sage leaves, roll them up lengthwise into a tight bundle, and, with a sharp knife, cut them crosswise into thin strips. Stir the sage, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots and tomatoes into the stew.

Cover and continue simmering until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes more. About 10 minutes before serving time, heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and saute, stirring continuously, until it renders its fat and begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf from the stew. Stir in the mushrooms and pancetta or bacon. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary. Ladle the stew into shallow soup bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Yield: 4 servingsSavory Pot Roast with VegetablesZucchini Crab CakesPasta, Peas and Prosciutto

Salads also lend themselves well to using the freshes and most nutritious ingredients. Try Winter Greens Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette, Toasted Walnuts, Orange & Warm Goat Cheese Croutons by Wolfgang Puck and you'll see what I mean.

Serve this up at a wintry weekend lunch or dinner, and there's no chance your guests will gaze wistfully out the window. Their attention will be riveted right on the dining table, where it belongs.

Ingredients

WARM GOAT CHEESE CROUTONS AND TOASTED WALNUTS

1/4-lb. fresh creamy goat cheese, cut into 4 equal pieces

1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 C. shelled walnut pieces

4 long, diagonal slices French baguette loaf, each about 1/4 inch thick

MUSTARD VINIAGRETTE

1 Tbs. Sherry vinegar

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 C. extra-virgin olive oil

SALAD

1 seedless orange, thickly peeled with a knife to remove the outer membrane

1/2 lb. arugula leaves, rinsed and patted thoroughly dry

1 small head radicchio, leaves separated, rinsed, and patted thoroughly dry

1 small head Belgian endive, leaves separated, rinsed, and patted thoroughly dry

Directions

Start marinating the goat cheese several hours ahead or the night before you plan to serve the salad. Put the cheese in a bowl, drizzle with the 1/4 C. olive oil, and add 1 tsp. of the thyme leaves, the garlic cloves, and some black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator to marinate. Shortly before serving time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spread the walnuts in a small baking dish and toast them in the oven until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer them to a bowl to cool. Leave the oven on. Remove the bowl of marinated goat cheese from the oven. Lightly brush the slices of baguette on both sides with the olive oil from the marinated goat cheese and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside briefly.

Prepare the Mustard Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the Sherry vinegar, mustard, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the 1 C. olive oil to form a thick, smooth dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary, with more salt and pepper and even a little more mustard or vinegar. Set aside.

For the salad, use a small, sharp knife to peel the orange thickly, removing along with the peel the membrane covering the fruit inside. Working over a bowl, cut each orange segment free from the membranes on either side of it, letting the segments drop into the bowl. Cut each segment into 2 or 3 pieces. In a salad bowl, combine the arugula, radicchio and Belgian endive leaves, tearing them if necessary into bite-sized pieces. Add the orange segments. Set aside. Put the bread slices in the oven and bake until light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the oven and carefully smear a portion of the marinated goat cheese on top of each slice. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue baking just until the cheese has warmed, about 1 minute more. Meanwhile, toss the salad mixture with enough of the dressing to coat the leaves and orange segments lightly. To serve, divide the salad among four plates. Top each plate, slightly off-center, with a Warm Goat Cheese Crouton. Sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves over the goat cheese on each crouton and garnish the salads with toasted walnuts.

Yield: 4 servingsChicken Mediterranean SaladAsparagus Picnic SaladFresh Cucumber and Tomato Salad

And of course we can't forget that the best part about being a vegetarian is all of the great ways to cook vegetables such as Vegetarian Pizza.

You can use Old West Cinnamon Roll bread mix for the dough by preparing it in the bread machine, then rolling the dough out. The dough can be rolled out thin and trimmed off for those who dont like so much crust, but I fold the excess over because I love it.

Ingredients

Old West Cinnamon Roll bread mix

Morningstar Breakfast strips, cut into small pieces

Fresh zucchini, sliced

Mozzarella and other cheeses

Other toppings: olives, mushrooms

Ragu, Prego or other red sauce

Directions

Spread red sauce on crust and layer toppings. Cover wtih cheese. Make sure the cheese is on the top to keep all the other toppings moist. You can use different things for pizza toppings according to your own tastes. Bake the pizza on a pizza stone for about 12 minutes on 450 degrees then turn it down to 400 degrees for another 15-20 minutes.Spaghetti Squash, Portobello Mushroom, Spinach CasseroleVegetarian Stuffed PeppersSpinach Enchiladas

So remember to add the size of your produce into the equation the next time you shop for your family and you'll be providing your family with the best nutrients and anti-oxidents you can buy. Have a tasty week!

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About Article Author

Hillary Marshak
Hillary Marshak

Nancy Radler is a writer for Recipe4Living.com, a popular recipe sharing Website. For more articles like this, or for a large collection of recipes, visit the site at http://www.Recipe4Living.com.

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