Roasted carrots and parsnips
This past Tuesday we had our second healthy cooking workshop. Once again we collaborated with the wonderful Jenny Williams who led the workshop and introduced us to some great new ways to prepare fall produce. Our turn out was not as great as we had expected but those who attended definitely got their  moneys’ worth, seeing as Jenny is always fun to listen to and is a great cook as well.
First on the agenda was to introduce participants to some new ways to prepare fall produce. Jenny sliced and roasted beets, carrots, parsnips, and a butternut squash while Maggie tore up fresh kale and mustard greens to make a roasted fall vegetable salad. While the veggies were roasting Jenny taught us how to make a rubbed kale salad (you simply pour a little olive oil on your greens, kale and mustard for us, sprinkle a little coarse salt over it all and massage the greens for several minutes to tenderize them, no cooking involved!) which is as easy as can be. The salad came together quickly, roasted veggies topped the greens and then it was finished off with a homemade honeyed cider vinaigrette, and oh my was it ever delicious!
Maggie and Jenny prepping veggies

Next up were a couple of pizzas using tomatoes and herbs from the garden. Many of our participants have been dehydrating tomatoes this summer so we wanted to cook something that would include these delicious slices, and pizza was the perfect thing. We also had many participants growing herbs this summer, but they had no idea how to incorporate them into their cooking, so we decided to top our pizzas with some tasty basil pesto, really who can resist fresh pesto? Maggie made our pizza crusts with her go to quick and easy whole wheat dough recipe and we topped them with several variations of the tomatoes, pesto, and cheeses.
        Last on the menu for the night was a second preparation of beets called rubies and pasta. Beets get such a bad name and are disliked by so many people, but Maggie and I are both staunch believers in the amazing deliciousness of beets, so we set out to try to change at least a couple of non beet believers and I think we may have been successful thanks to this dish! Rubies and pasta, a classic Italian dish, was completely new to me, so I was interested to see how it would turn out. Jenny roasted several more beets chopped them into small chunks, cooked them with a bit of garlic, olive oil, and red pepper, mixed them with pasta, garnished it all with some fresh basil and left us all with mouths watering, ready to eat.

So we all sat down to enjoy our meal (salad, pizza, pasta, and zucchini cake to top it off, really who can complain about that!) and to talk about fall gardens, food preservation and the many other fun conversations that a good meal can bring about. All in all I think we all learned something new and went home excited to try out some new recipes, I know at least I did!

Maggie is ready to eat!

A big thanks to Jenny once again for her great skill and enthusiasm! Here are a couple of the recipes from the workshop:

Basil Pesto

Pesto is great on pizza, pasta, warm bread, mixed in scrambled eggs etc. Pesto can also be frozen in large batches or if you wish to have individual servings pour pesto into an ice cube tray, freeze completely, then put individual “pesto cubes” in one freezer bag and you can thaw just as many as you need at a time.


Coarse salt and ground peppers
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 packed cups basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts 
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

On a cutting board, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over garlic and roughly chop. Using a flat side of the knife blade, crush mixture into a thick paste. Add to a food processor with pine nuts, basil, and 1 tablespoon oil. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. With machine running, add remaining oil in a slow, steady stream. Add Parmesan and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Use walnuts or pecans for the pine nuts. You can also replace half the basil with arugula or parsley. Or try cilantro along with pumpkin seeds.

Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Pizza w/ dried tomatoes and pesto
2 ½ teaspoons (one packet) dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

Combine dry yeast, sugar, and warm water in large bowl. Whisk to combine. Let sit for a few minutes until mixture becomes bubbly. Mix remaining ingredients together with water and yeast. Knead for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Place dough in a warm location and let rise until doubled in size (roughly 45 minutes). Knock down dough with a fist and let stand for 10 minutes. Spread onto a baking sheet and create a pizza!

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Honeyed Cider Vinaigrette (serves four)

The Salad

2 beets
2 parsnips
1 small acorn or butternut squash
4 cups of greens – any sturdy lettuce will do, but endive is good if you can find it, or arugula, or even very small, tender kale, turnip greens, or mustard greens
2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped, toasted walnuts, pumpkin, or squash seeds to garnish

A beautiful salad
Preheat oven to 450°. Peel vegetables and slice thinly – about a quarter inch. Toss with olive oil to coat and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until vegetables start to brown around the edges, then use a spatula to lossen vegetables from pan and flip over.
Meanwhile, clean and dry greens and tear into small pieces. Toss with 2 TBS of dressing and arrange on a platter or individual plates, Pile roasted vegetables on greens and drizzle with more of the dressing. Top with toasted nuts or seeds and serve.

Honeyed Cider Vinaigrette

1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 TBS honey
½ Tsp kosher salt
¼ Tsp pepper (Aleppo or cayenne add a nice kick)
2/3 cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients until smooth and thick. Serve with greens. 

Rubies and Pasta (serves 4)

2-3 beets
Pink pasta!
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb pasta
2 TBS olive oil
Parmesan cheese to taste
Aleppo or red pepper flakes to taste
Chopped parsley and or basil to taste (about 1 cup total)

Roast beets in a 450° oven by placing them in a baking dish with about a half inch of water and covering the dish tightly with foil. Roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size. Let beets cool until you can touch them, then slips the skin off. Cut the beets into half inch chunks and set aside. You can do this up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate beets if you are not using them immediately.

Cook pasta according to package directions and then drain, reserving ¼ cup of cooking water. In a skillet or pot large enough to hold pasta and beets, heat the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the red pepper, garlic, and chopped beets. Stir until garlic has softened , but not browned, and beets are heated through. Stir in cooked pasta, and add the reserved cooking water a tablespoon at a time of pasta is too dry. Remove from heat and top with chopped herbs and parmesan cheese.

I hope all you blog readers will give these delicious recipes a try if you find yourself with some fall produce and an appetite, happy cooking!