Veggie of the Week: Celery pt. 4

Preparation and Serving:
– Wash leaves and stem in cold water to remove any dirt, fungicides, and pesticides
– Remove tough stem ends
– Celery is used in many soups, salads, stews, sauces
– Celery leaves are strongly flavoured but are sometimes used as a flavouring in soups and stews or as a dried herb
– Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice, either as whole seeds or ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt
– Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots, or using dried leaves
– Celery salt is used as a seasoning in Bloody Mary cocktails, on Chicago-style hot dogs, and in certain pre-mixed spice blends

Celery Gratin

Celery Gratin
Makes 4 servings

1 pound celery (8 to 10 large stalks), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 slices white sandwich bread
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix celery, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.
3. Divide evenly among four 6-ounce ramekins, packing mixture in firmly.
4. Place ramekins on baking sheet, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
5. Bake until celery is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, tear bread into large pieces, and pulse in food processor until coarse crumbs form.
7. Add remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and drizzle with olive oil; pulse just until crumbs are coated with oil, 4 to 6 times.
8. Remove aluminum foil from ramekins.
9. Dividing evenly, sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over celery.
10. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes more.
11. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
12. Enjoy!

Veggie of the Week: Green Bean

– Green beans are also known as string beans, snap beans, ejotes, haricots verts, French beans, French green beans, French filet beans, or fine beans
– Green beans are long, thin, crisp, and tender
– There are two major groups: bush beans and pole beans
– Bush beans are short plants, growing around two feet high, they mature and produce all of their fruit in a short period of time, gardeners may grow more than one crop of bush beans in a season
– Pole beans climb and make a twisting vine
– Over 130 varieties of green bean are known
– Pod color can be green, purple, red, or streaked
– Most bean pods contain a string, a hard fibrous spine running the length of the pod
– The string is often removed before cooking or may be made edible by cutting the pod into short pieces
– The three top producers of beans are China, Indonesia, and India

Green Bean, Ham, and Cheese Frittata

Green Bean, Ham, and Cheese Frittata
Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham, cut into thin strips
2 bunches (12 to 16) green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
1 cup shredded (about 4 ounces) cheese
Salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add green beans, ham, and green onions (skillet will be full).
4. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until green beans are crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Add to skillet, and tilt to distribute evenly.
7. Gently press down on vegetables to cover them with egg mixture.
8. Cook, without stirring, until edges are slightly set, about 1 minute.
9. Transfer to oven; bake until center is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
10. Run a wooden or rubber spatula around edges; slide frittata onto a platter, and cut into 4 wedges.
11. Enjoy!

Veggie of the Week: Broccoli pt. 4

Prep and Serving:
– Broccoli can be boiled, steamed, or eaten raw!
– Rinse heads by dipping upside down in salt water for up to half an hour and then rinse with cold water
– Keep in mind that broccoli loses nutrients while steaming or boiling

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Makes 12 servings

3 heads broccoli, cut into florets
½ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk or heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed crackers

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. Spray a 13 x 9 – inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Add broccoli florets to a large heavy-bottomed stockpot of boiling water.
4. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then drain broccoli from the water. Set aside.
5. Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.
6. Whisk in flour until well-combined, then whisk in milk, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese.
7. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to whisk until sauce simmers slightly around the edges and has thickened slightly.
8. Stir in sour cream.
9. Arrange broccoli in casserole dish and then pour cream sauce over broccoli.
10. Top with cheddar cheese and crushed crackers.
11. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.
12. Serve warm and enjoy!

Veggie of the week: Broccoli pt. 3

Selection and Storage:
– Broccoli is available year-round
– Look for bright and firm heads
– Avoid yellowing broccoli
– Can be placed inside refrigerator in ziploc bag for a few days

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Makes 2-4 servings

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups chopped broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
1 small white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 (15 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
plus a few generous pinches of salt and black pepper
(optional: a few generous pinches of Italian seasoning or Cajun seasoning)

1. Stir together stock, diced onion and broccoli in a medium saucepan.
2. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a low boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium and continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender.
4. Stir in the evaporated milk and continue cooking for 3 minutes or until the mixture returns to a simmer.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
6. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve warm and enjoy!