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May 21, 2013
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Recipes to get you in from the garden

It was tough acknowledging I had a serious behavioral problem, but when I finally admitted I was helpless to handle it alone, I turned to the Yellow Pages. Although I searched through numerous headings for an appropriate support group, my concern wasn’t listed. At first my spirits fell like a souffle, but then my determination rose. I concluded it probably wasn’t just me who needed help; I would reach out to the hundreds of other sufferers in the county.

If you display any of the following symptoms, you’re eligible to join my new group, Gardeners Without Borders.

• You find it impossible to pass a nursery without buying at least three plants.

• Your backyard looks like one, because you don’t have enough time to plant everything you buy.

• Your feet resemble rich garden soil, and it seems like sandblasting is the only way to clean them.

• You consider forgoing your bi-weekly manicure appointment.

• You find yourself increasing the size of your flower beds even though you’re getting older and should be down-sizing.

• You haven’t cooked dinner or read a book in weeks.

• Your bedtime keeps getting earlier.

If you suffer these seven danger signs, get help now.

I’ve scheduled the first meeting for an as yet undisclosed cold day in November when we might not mind staying inside.

Whatever your passion, please include making these recipes.

Coconut Pasta Salad

6 servings

Tired of the same old pasta salad? Try this!

6 ounces rice pasta spirals, cooked according to directions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

6 scallions, sliced in thin Os

8 ounces of red, yellow, and gold peppers, thinly sliced (If these colors aren’t in your palette, just use one kind)

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

1 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds

Dressing

Puree in a blender:

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (1 lime will do it)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/3 cup coconut milk (This is thick stuff, so shake the can well before opening)

1 teaspoon tamari

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Put the salad ingredients in a bowl, toss with the dressing, and chill. Fellow diners will be excited to see you at the next potluck.

Tofu-Mango Salad

Serves 4

Here’s another idea to beat the salad doldrums.

1 pound extra firm tofu, patted dry and cubed in 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fruit juice (I use

Mango Tango, my granddaughter’s favorite)

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 ripe mango, chopped (Hint: use a vegetable peeler to skin the mango

before cutting the fruit off the pit)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon raisins

1 tablespoon raw pine nuts

Dressing

Whisk together:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons mango chutney

1 teaspoon curry powder

Coat the tofu with the olive oil, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes until lightly golden. To prevent sticking, turn the tofu once during baking.

Put the baked tofu and juice in a frying pan, and simmer and stir until the juice evaporates. This only takes a few minutes, and infuses the tofu with flavor. Then turn off the flame and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the celery, onion, mango pieces, cilantro and raisins. Stir in the dressing, add the tofu gently taking care not to break it apart, and chill. Stir in the pine nuts right before serving.

Mediterranean Bites

32 appetizer pieces

Hors d’oeuvres, canapés, appetizers: whatever you call them, they’ll be gobbled.

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1/2 cup minced parsley

3 scallions, sliced in thin Os

1/4 packed cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (I prefer ones packed in oil)

Custard

Whip together until smooth:

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

3 tablespoons white flour

1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard

You quiche makers, will find these directions familiar. Butter a 7 X 11-inch glass pan, and distribute the cheese evenly along the bottom. Mix together the olives, parsley, scallions and tomatoes, and spread on top of the cheese. Finally, pour the custard over the veggies.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375-degrees until the custard is set. For cutting ease, chill first. Either cold or room temperature produces satisfied sighs.

Simply Broccoli

4 servings

Serve this, and you won’t have to nag your family about eating veggies.

1 pound broccoli crowns

1 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/3 cup pecans, toasted

1 minced scallion

Salt and pepper

Drop the broccoli in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until it turns bright green and still has a slight crunch. Drain and mix with the remaining ingredients. Yum!

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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The Union Updated May 21, 2013 11:14PM Published May 21, 2013 11:14PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.