Enjoying ‘jewels’ from the garden

Vegetables are one of nature’s best gifts from putting in time to disc the ground, adding the right amount of nutrients and using a hoe to keep the weeds at bay.

Right now lettuce, green onions and peas are coming into their own. And soon tomatoes, green beans and many other healthy foods from the garden will be appearing.

There are many side dishes and even main dishes that can be made from these jewels from the garden. I have tried to find recipes that are different, and hopefully they will appeal to some who would have been coaxed to taste veggies without success before. And those who enjoy them might like them prepared in a different way.

Prevention magazine reports that the best way to clean produce is to use a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub fresh vegetables and fruit before using them in a recipe. It did not state how much baking soda to use, so I am assuming it can be a tablespoon or two in several quarts of water in the sink basin.

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Pita bread topped with grilled eggplant, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and ripe olives sounds good for a lunch or light dinner. This recipe is from Taste of Home magazine.

Grilled Eggplant

Pita Pizza

2 small eggplants

1 teaspoon salt

1 large sweet red pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

12 garlic cloves, halved

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 whole pita breads

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup pitted chopped black olives

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Cut eggplant into 3/4-inch slices. Place in a colander over a plate. Toss with salt and let stand 30 minutes. In a bowl, toss red pepper, onion and garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer to a grill or wok. Grill, uncovered, over medium-high heat 8 to 12 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Rinse and drain eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Brush eggplant with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with pepper. Grill covered, over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes on each side until tender. Cut slices into quarters. Brush the pita breads with remaining oil. Grill , covered over low heat 1 to 2 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from grill. Layer grilled sides of pitas with grilled vegetables, tomato, cheese and olives. If desired, sprinkle with pepper flakes. Return to grill; cook, covered 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with basil. Makes four.

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I found some recipes in Redbook magazine that are different. I had never heard of a chilaquile before. It uses something I really enjoy – avocado – but they need to be purchased in a supermarket.

Easy Chilaquiles

4 medium tomatoes, halved

Medium yellow onion, quartered

2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

4-ounce can whole roasted green chiles, diced

4 large eggs

5 large handfuls tortilla chips

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Large avocado, diced

Small red onion, finely diced

Sour cream, optional

Heat oven to broil. Place tomatoes, yellow onion and jalapenos in a large mixing bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and spread, cut sides down, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until skins begin to char, 8 to 12 minutes, adding garlic halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place roasted vegetables in a blender with stock and pulse into a chunky salsa. Pour salsa into a large skillet. Add chiles and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low once heated through. Season with salt and pepper. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Crack eggs into pan and allow them to cook, undisturbed until whites have set but yolks are still soft, 2 to 4 minutes. Add tortilla chips to the simmering salsa, breaking them into pieces with a wooden spoon. Stir until coated but not soggy. Divide chips and salsa among four bowls. Sprinkle each with cheese and garnish with avocado, red onion and sour cream. Top each with an egg and serve. Makes four servings.

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Fingerling potatoes are a nice change in potato size, and these are combined with Brussels sprouts and drizzled with a lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey sauce. This is from the Taste of Home Simple and Delicious magazine.

Lemon Roasted

Fingerlings and

Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes and Brussels sprouts in a greased 15-by-10-inch baking pan with 1-inch sides. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Toss to coat. Roast 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring once. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, mustard, honey, remaining oil and salt until blended. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve warm. Makes eight servings.

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Purchasing a bagged chopped cabbage and carrots mix is a time-saver when making coleslaw. This recipe from Taste of Home magazine is quick and easy, colorful and creamy. It serves 12 so if you want it for less servings, divide the recipe in half.

Zesty Coleslaw

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Two 14-ounce packages coleslaw mix

Small sweet red pepper, chopped fine

1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Add coleslaw mix, red pepper and onion. Toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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This is another recipe that makes a large amount. This Taste of Home recipe for a combination of veggies will serve 16 people.

Cream of the

Crop Veggies

3 quarts water

4 medium carrots, sliced

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas

2 small yellow summer squash, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 pound fresh wax beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1/3 cup minced fresh chives

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

4 teaspoons snipped fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil. Add carrots and peas. Cook, uncovered 3 minutes. Add squash and cook 1 minute longer or until crisp-tender. Remove vegetables and immediately drop into ice water. Drain and pat dry. Repeat with wax and green beans, cooking them separately until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Place all vegetables in a large bowl. Sprinkle with minced chives, toss to combine. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Add to vegetables. Toss gently to coat. Refrigerate, covered for 3-4 hours or until cold. This is only 90 calories – a bargain for a side dish that includes many veggies.

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From a recipe that serves 16 people, we go down to one that serves four. It is from Diabetic Cooking but is fine for everybody and is quite healthy, too.

Roasted Vegetables with Pasta and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce

1 small eggplant, roughly diced

8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

8 ounces red onion, roughly sliced

2 large springs rosemary

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

6.7-ounce jar sun dried tomato pesto pasta sauce, a brand called Sacla Italia is mentioned.

8-ounces fusilli pasta, cooked and drained.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables and rosemary in roasting pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, or until soft. Heat sun dried tomato pesto pasta sauce in pan over medium heat. Mix with pasta and top with cooked vegetables. This is 325 calories, with 4 grams total fat.