Nibbling Local
A Fresh Look at Triangle Flavor


By Debra Simon


Cooking with fresh veggies is a Triangle tradition. Long before the term "locavore" (those who prefer food that didn't travel far) was coined, women were buying produce from farmers who tilled the rich Piedmont soil. After all, the Carrboro Farmers' Market (gotta love its slogan: "Locally grown, Nationally known") is celebrating its 32nd year!

North Carolina boasts a bounty of 150 farmers' markets and a similar number of farms that participate in community-supported agriculture, or CSA. These farms grow produce for "shareholders," people who pay in advance for a portion of the harvest. Once a week, shareholders pick up a box of natural goodness at an urban drop site or the farm itself.
Veggies and spices that are in season this month include basil, butter beans, cucumbers, eggplant, field peas, garlic, green beans, okra, peppers, potatoes, sweet corn, Swiss chard and tomatoes.
What to do with these crisp ingredients once you get them home? Don't reduce these stars of the locavore scene to second bananas! Move the veggies center stage with these recipes from recent cookbooks.


400 Best Sandwich Recipes
From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments

Published by Robert Rose






This is one of my favorite sandwiches. I love the simplicity of goat cheese and mayonnaise as the spread on this colorful vegetarian sandwich.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1-1/4 cups, about 2 small, thinly sliced yellow squash
1-1/4 cups, about 1 large, thinly sliced zucchini
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes,
thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices multigrain bread
2 avocados, thinly sliced
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and goat cheese. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place squash, zucchini and tomato on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in preheated oven, tossing occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.
Spread mayonnaise mixture equally over one side of bread slices. Top 4 slices equally with roasted vegetables, avocados, sprouts and remaining bread slices, pressing together gently. Serve immediately.

Tips: If you can't find alfalfa sprouts, I love using broccoli sprouts, which are also widely available in grocery stores.
Choose zucchini that are firm with unbruised skin.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Wraps

This recipe was shared by a friend of mine, Kiel, who is a great runner and clever cook. Quinoa ("KEEN-wah") is a tiny grain, often called "supergrain" because it's rich in so many nutrients, particularly protein.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups (about 3 medium) chopped tomatoes
1-1/4 cups finely chopped cucumber
3/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped flat‑leaf Italian parsley
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Four 8-inch flour tortillas
4 lettuce leaves

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 2 cups water, quinoa and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, red and green bell peppers, green onions and parsley. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper, if using.

Place tortillas on a work surface. Line each tortilla with a lettuce leaf. Spread quinoa mixture equally in center of tortillas over lettuce leaves. Fold both edges over filling. Roll up and serve immediately.

Tips: If you have leftovers, this is a great, healthy salad to have on hand. Or, this recipe can be halved.



Mr. Sunday's Soups
More than 75 Delicious, Homemade Recipes to Bring Your Family Together

Published by John Wiley & Sons


Hearty Lentil Soup


This is perhaps Mr. Sunday's all-time favorite soup - and that's saying a lot, because he loves them all! Chris (Fox news host Chris Wallace, the author's husband) really likes lentils - in every color, and prepared in every way. He feels they warm his body and soul.
I first created this soup because it is low in fat and high in protein, but we would enjoy it no matter what, especially on a cold fall or winter day! The curry powder here adds just the right amount of spice, and I often like to garnish my lentil soup with a slice of lemon at serving time, for a fresh and pretty note.

1 cup dried lentils
1-1/4 quarts (5 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 small potato, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils well in a colander, and pick over and discard any discolored lentils or debris.

In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, combine the lentils, broth, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are just tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the bell pepper, potato, tomato sauce, curry powder, basil, salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to simmer until the potato is cooked, about 15 minutes more.

Ladle into warm bowls or tall mugs and serve.
Makes 6-8 servings


Baby Lima Bean and Swiss Chard Soup


Sometimes, baby lima beans - milder in flavor than navy and white beans - make a nice change for our family bean soups. Adding the Swiss chard just at the end of the cooking time, then allowing it to wilt slightly, contributes a fresh note to this comforting winter soup.

2 cups dried baby lima beans, soaked in water to cover overnight
1 pound thick-sliced, center-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard, thick stems removed, leaves cut crosswise 1-inch wide, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped, or one 15-ounce can diced Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Drain the lima beans and pick over to remove any discolored beans or debris.

Place a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp and golden, then transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat in the pan and add the oil.

Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes more.

Add half of the Swiss chard and the garlic and cook until the chard has wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the drained beans, broth, tomatoes and basil. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup briefly in the pot, leaving plenty of texture. Or, scoop off about a quarter of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor. (Hold the top of the blender firmly with a folded towel to prevent an explosion of hot soup.) Then return to the pot.

Stir half of the reserved bacon and the remaining Swiss chard into the soup and cook until the chard is just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in half of the parsley, the salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley and the cheese. Serve immediately, passing the remaining bacon at the table for topping.
Makes 6-8 servings



The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up
Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More

Published by Ballantine Books



Pickled Okra Stuffed with Scallion Cream Cheese


We grew up snacking on pickled okra and could polish off a whole jar before you could say, "Go, Dawgs." Believe it or not, the okra tastes even better stuffed with scallion cream cheese. Make these the night before, wrap in aluminum foil or place in a plastic bag and pack into the cooler, to have one less thing to check off your list on game day.

One 16-ounce jar pickled okra
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions


Rinse the okra under running water and pat dry. Slice each okra in half lengthwise.
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and scallions together.
Sandwich the cream cheese mixture between 2 slices of okra. Serve immediately or wrap up and chill in the cooler until ready to serve.
Makes about 24 pieces.


Lemon-Basil Green Bean Almondine Salad


This is our riff on the classic green bean almondine. We think it's at its most delicious with a light lemon-basil dressing. Be sure not to overcook the beans - they should make a real crunch when you dig in!

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water at the ready.

Drop the beans into the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the beans. Transfer them immediately to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well and place the beans in a large bowl.

Toast the almonds in a small skillet over medium-high heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Pour the lemon-basil dressing over the beans and toss well to combine. Sprinkle the almonds over the top of the salad and serve.
Makes 4 servings



aCookouts Veggie Style
225 Backyard Favorites - Full of Flavor, Free of Meat!

Published by Adams Media



Basil Buttered Corn


Corn begins to lose its sweetness the moment it is picked, so the shorter the time from garden to grill, the sweeter your corn will be. Extreme corn fanciers have been known to build a fire right next to their corn stalks so that the time to the grill is minimal.

3 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed


Melt margarine in a saucepan over low heat. Add basil, onions, salt and pepper, and mix. Drizzle mixture over corn.
Wrap each ear of corn individually in foil. Place on hot grill for about 20 minutes, turning once.
Makes 4 servings.

Eggplant Pizza Rounds


No crust, just veggies topped with pizza sauce, cheese and Italian spices.

1 large eggplant, sliced 3/4-1" thick
Oil for brushing
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2-2/3 cup pizza sauce
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese


Optional pizza toppings: pineapple, sliced olives, vegetarian pepperoni

Prepping eggplants: To enhance the flavor of your eggplants, remove a bit of their bitterness and moisture before grilling. Place an eggplant slice on a paper towel and salt it liberally. Put another paper towel over it and top with another slice of eggplant. Salt this slice and repeat the process until all of the slices have been salted and stacked between paper towels. Let this eggplant tower sit for about 30 minutes, then take out the slices and wipe them off. Now they're ready for the grill.Brush eggplant slices with oil on both sides, and sprinkle with garlic salt. Place on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender but not too soft.

Carefully spread a thin layer of pizza sauce on each slice, then sprinkle with Italian seasonings and mozzarella cheese. Place any additional pizza toppings on top of the cheese.

Return eggplant pizzas to the grill and heat for another 2-3 minutes, until cheese melts.
Makes 4 servings.



The Glorious Pasta of Italy

Published by Chronicle Books




Gemelli With Fresh Herbs and Chopped Olives


I like to use an earthy mix of garden herbs in this sauce. You can choose your favorite mix, or even a single herb that you are particularly fond of; just be sure to use lots of it.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs (I use oregano, rosemary and thyme)
1 cup coarsely chopped pitted gaeta or kalamata olives, plus 2 tablespoons brine from the olives
2-1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded and grated
Kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound gemelli, fusilli or other short, sturdy pasta


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.

While the water is heating, warm the oil and garlic in a large frying pan placed over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic releases its fragrance. Sprinkle in the herbs and the olives and brine, and raise the heat to medium. Stir to combine and saute for about 1 minute, then pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have been reduced to a creamy sauce. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Transfer the pasta to the frying pan, and gently toss the pasta and sauce until thoroughly combined, adding a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce.

Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed, shallow individual bowls and serve immediately.the cream cheese mixture between 2 slices of okra. Serve immediately or wrap up and chill in the cooler until ready to serve.
Makes 4 servings.


Radiatori with Tomato-Cream Sauce and Fresh Basil


It took me a long time to appreciate radiatori, ruffled pasta curls that resemble the grill of an old-fashioned radiator. Back in the 1980s, when I first encountered them, mostly in cold, bland pasta salads, I considered them faddish and not worth a second look. But over the last couple of decades an explosion of even more whimsical pasta shapes has occurred, including everything from tennis racquets (a favorite of my son, who loves the sport) to noodles as long as my arm turned out by artisanal producers.

And radiatori are still here. In fact, they are tailor-made for tomato-cream sauce. The thick sauce, a puree of cooked tomatoes and vegetables enriched with cream, is cleverly captured in the ridges and ruffles, so that every bite is as satisfying as the one that preceded it - except when it's all gone.

Make the sauce ahead to save time. Fresh basil adds a burst of bright color and an extra hit of flavor.

1 pound dried radiatori
2 cups Tomato-Cream Sauce (recipe follows), heated to a simmer
5 to 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into narrow strips (chiffonade)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the pasta, stir to separate, and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot and spoon in about two-thirds of the sauce. Gently toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle in the basil and 1/2 cup Parmigiano, and toss to mix well. Add a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce.

Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed, shallow individual bowls and spoon the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with more cheese, if you like. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.




Tomato-Cream Sauce


The addition of just a few basic vegetables and a splash of cream (OK - a generous splash of cream) transforms an ordinary tomato sauce into something much more luxurious, sugo di pomodoro e panna.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
Two 28-ounce cans whole or diced tomatoes, with their juice
Kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy/double cream


Warm the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot placed over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the onion, carrots and celery, and saute, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. If necessary, reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the vegetables from browning.
While the vegetables are cooking, pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with the disk with the smallest holes. Discard the solids.

Add the milled tomatoes to the vegetables, and stir in 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Cover partially and cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.

Puree the sauce using an immersion blender or a stand blender. (If using a stand blender, you will need to puree the sauce in two batches and then return the pureed sauce to the pan.) Add the cream, place over medium heat, and bring the sauce just to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if you like.

Tips: The sauce may be stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If freezing, omit the cream and add it when you reheat the sauce.
Makes about 6 cups