Fresh produce from your own garden or a farmers' market brings luscious and healthy dishes to the table, Sue Willson demonstrated at a Gourmet Chef class.
While most of the recipes she used are essentially vegetarian, she said she uses them as side dishes with meat from the grill or microwave for balanced, varied meals.
One of her first demonstrations at the class was spaghetti squash.
Cleo Cantlon/MDN - - Sue Willson created easy summer vegetable dishes using produce from her garden in a demonstration at a Gourmet Chef class.
Cleo Cantlon/MDN - - Fresh corn took a new, slightly spicy twist in Thai-Style Corn on the Cob.
Cleo Cantlon/MDN - - Watermelon was the basis for two recipes: Watermelon Rind Soup and a Watermelon-and-Cucumber Salad.
"We prefer it cooked in the microwave so it doesn't get watery," Willson said.
She cut a medium spaghetti squash in half, removed seeds and fiber, and seasoned the cavity with sea salt and pepper. Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave just until done, about 15 to 20 minutes.
She flaked the spaghetti strings out onto a large platter, drizzled it with herb-infused oil and added shredded carrots and zucchini. She topped it with green onion and parmesan cheese before serving.
The herb-infused oil, which keeps up to six weeks in the refrigerator, can include any favorite herbs. Willson chose fresh parsley, cilantro and basil.
Willson's watermelon dishes, a soup and a salad that were unusual flavor combinations, were hits with her students.
She also prepared mango and chicken summer rolls and a beet-and-squash curry.
Watermelon Rind Soup
2 to 3 cups watermelon rind (white part only) cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
3 cups broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1/4 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil for cooking.
Heat oil in large oversize pot; add ground chicken; season with salt and pepper.
Brown chicken until cooked. Drain off any excess grease.
Add celery, carrots and onion. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stir and cook veggies with chicken about 3 minutes.
Add stock, rind, green onion and sugar. Bring to a high boil about 2 or 3 minutes. Turn off heat and serve.
Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
4 cups watermelon, rind removed; cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 english cucumber or young garden cucumber, cubed
1 package spring mix lettuce
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, chopped or crushed
In salad bowl, combine watermelon, cheese and cucumber. In small bowl combine lemon juice, olive oil, basil, capers, salt and pepper. Gently toss dressing with watermelon, cucumbers and feta. Spoon over bed of spring lettuce before serving.
Thai-Style Corn on the Cob
6 medium ears of corn, husked, broken into smaller pieces, about 3 inches long
1/4 cup lightly-salted dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
3 tablespoons chopped lemongrass
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Whisk seasoning ingredients together. Make foil packages of corn and seasonings. Grill or bake foil packages for 45 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with peanuts before serving.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil or mixture
2/3 cup fresh herbs, such as cilantro, parsley and basil or any favorite herb, washed, dried and finely chopped
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
Simmer oil in small saucepan until hot. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Let cool and store in glass jar. Refrigerate up to 6 months.