Ronnie Paul
Special to The Union

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July 29, 2014
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Giving vegetables celebrity status — front and center

Despite the cornucopian mounds of veggies and fruits at our local farmer’s markets, my husband Jeff and I prefer growing our own. Although we produce enough to sustain a small village through several nuclear winters, I still frequent grocery stores. We’re always running low on laundry detergent, Pinot Grigio and cat food, but beside replenishing our store of un-growable staples, I have to constantly feed my craving for celebrity gossip.

No matter how few items are in my cart, the longest check-out line provides me enough time to peruse a few rumor-mongerous magazines. Forget national politics and stock market turbulence, and (gulp) I never even know who’s in the World Series or what sport is played at the Rose Bowl.

Royal updates, spiteful divorce settlements, shots of skimpy red carpet fashions, pictures of 20-carat engagement rings that usher in $5 million dollar weddings: give me the important stuff! I’m certain that scientific research will eventually prove that these tales cause the brains of certain people to release an endorphin called Celebratin.

Aside from feeling a bit sheepish when caught with my nose buried in Us or People, I recognize another downside. I’m now so old and out-of-the-loop, I haven’t even heard of most of the celebrities. Who are these surgically-enhanced newbies, and what ever happened to Paul Newman?

Luckily, I still feel with-it creating recipes. Try these and feel in-the-know.

Tzatziki Plus

Makes 1 1/2 cups

I spruced up this traditional Greek dip with fresh garden veggies. Sitting under the stars on a warm evening, sipping something cold, munching this appetizer: does summer get much better?

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper

1 cup Greek-style (thick) plain yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped basil

1 scallion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Put the chopped cucumber in a strainer, salt it, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, squeeze out all the liquid.

Squeeze the liquid from the red pepper.

Combine all the ingredients, mix well, and chill for a few hours.

Scoop this with baguette slices or veggie sticks.

Peachy Kale Solstice Salad

Serves 4

This year’s peaches are wonderful, and I load up on them weekly at the farmer’s market. Here’s a recipe that ushers in my peach mania.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

5 ounces of kale leaves

1 large peach, cut in small pieces

2 ounces of Feta, cut in small cubes

1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives

Dressing

Whisk together:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan, add the onions, and slowly sauté until the onions are limp.

While the onions cook, chop the kale in small pieces.

Take a moment now to massage the kale pieces (think of kneading bread) until they’re soft.

In a bowl, combine the kale, Feta, peaches and Kalamatas. Add the hot sautéed onions and toss with the dressing.

Prepare to swoon!

Green Bean-Garbanzo Salad

Serves 4-6

Make this salad with your first crop of summer green beans.

4 ounces green beans, stringy ends trimmed

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

2 ounces small Feta cubes

Dressing

Whisk together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 teaspoon Dijon

1/2 teaspoon horseradish

Salt and pepper

Boil the green beans for 2-3 minutes until tender, then rinse under cold water and drain.

Combine all the ingredients, and toss with the dressing. This tastes best when it marinates for at least one hour at room temperature.

Not Your Average Cole Slaw

Serves 4-6

I love cabbage, and it’s a no-brainer that cole slaw is going to land on my summer table frequently. If you’re wondering why I don’t grate the cabbage - I much prefer a finely chopped texture.

1 cup finely chopped green cabbage

1 cup finely chopped red cabbage

1/2 cup (about 2) grated carrots

2 packed tablespoons grated onion

1/4 cup raisins

Salt and pepper

Dressing

Whisk together:

4 tablespoon pomegranate vinegar (A current obsession that should become a staple in your pantry)

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon horse radish

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Mix the salad ingredients together, toss with the dressing, and chill.

I usually make this first thing in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator until dinner.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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The Union Updated Jul 29, 2014 10:53PM Published Jul 29, 2014 10:53PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.