Chef Staci Pederson of Yankton Hy-Vee, concludes how to prepare this season’s local garden produce series with suggestions and recipes for healthy, easy meals in September. See www.yankton.net or Plant Exchange Blog at www.brendakjohnsonplantexchange.com for her local produce recipes from the whole season.

“We’re back into activities this month, but still trying to prepare healthy meals from the garden. For salads, chop the carrots and cucumbers when you have time, and store them in Ziploc bags. Add a damp paper towel so the produce doesn’t dry out. Storing vegetables in separate bags allows the tastes to remain separate,” Chef Staci said. Some like to select their own favorite salad ingredients, so salads can be individualized. Chopped carrots in a Ziploc bag can also become a side dish.

“To peeled and chopped carrots in a saucepan, add a little butter and honey. Or combine dill, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar over carrots in a saucepan for a glaze. Easy and healthy side dish,” she said.

Chef Staci shares the “Crock-Pot Butternut Squash and Apples” as a yummy side dish while clearing space for other stove and oven dishes when cooking for the holidays.

She provides two kale salad recipes with different tastes.

“Wash kale well and remove the ribs and stalk,” she said. “Kale salads can stand longer. In lettuce salads, the acid from the dressing breaks down the lettuce and it gets soggy and doesn’t hold well. Kale can hold a couple of days. That’s a time saver.”

“I got the idea for the “Kale and Sunflower Seed Caesar Salad” from riding the train from Italy to Paris two years ago. I didn’t know about the fields of sunflowers there,” she said. “They were everywhere and beautiful.”

The kale Caesar salad calls for anchovy fillets.

“Some people are freaked out by anchovies. Once you get it in the dressing, you can’t taste the fish, but it brings out the Umami and makes other flavors brighter. This dressing is a classic with no eggs. It calls for garden fresh tomatoes. Toasted sunflower seeds give the salad crunch instead of using croutons,” Chef Staci said.

The “Kale and Lentil Salad with Apricots and Apples” is a fruit salad with healthy lentils and kale and local apples. Thanks to Chef Staci for lots of new ways to prepare our garden produce and local fruits.

Crock-Pot Butternut Squash And Apples

2 ½ pounds Butternut or Acorn Squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one-inch pieces

2 ½ cups Granny Smith or other Apples, cored and cut into one-inch pieces

½ cup Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Flour

½ teaspoon Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Salt

1/8 teaspoon ground Ginger

 1/8 teaspoon ground Cloves

In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour and spices. Toss in the winter squash and apples.

Place in a greased 4- or 5-quart crock-pot. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or on high for 2½ hours.

Kale And Sunflower Seed Caesar Salad

1 pound or one bunch Kale, stemmed, trimmed and chopped

4 Anchovy Fillets packed in oil

3 Garlic Cloves

1 Lemon, zest and juice

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

¾ cup Olive Oil

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¾ cup Sunflower Seeds, roasted and salted

1 pint grape tomatoes or 2 tomatoes, diced

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, place anchovy fillets, garlic cloves, lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese. Process until all blended and slowly drizzle the olive oils in, forming an emulsion. Season with a little salt and a nice, big pinch of black pepper. When ready to serve, massage the dressing into the kale, toss with tomatoes and serve with sunflower seeds on top.

Kale And Lentil Salad With Apricots And Apples

1 pound or one bunch Kale, stemmed, trimmed, and chopped

1 cup Red Lentils, cooked to directions (2 cups cooked), and cooled

¾ cup Dried Apricots, sliced or chopped

2 Granny Smith or any Apples, diced

1 Orange, juiced

1 Lemon, juiced

¾ cup Maple Syrup

½ cup, Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup Walnuts, toasted

In a small bowl, stir together orange and lemon juice, maple syrup and olive oil. In a large bowl, mix tougher the kale, lentils, apples and toss together with the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This is best if it is allowed to set for an hour or two, and is good for a day or two.  Toss with toasted walnuts just before serving.

Cooking Red Lentils

3 cups cold water

1 cup red lentils

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add lentils, and a bit of salt and diced onions, if desired. Give a good stir and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes, until lentils are just tender. Do not over-cook. Mushy lentils are gross. Drain into a colander and run cold water over them to cool them down.

Staci Pederson is the chef at Hy-Vee, 2100 Broadway, Yankton (605) 665-3412. Thanks to Chef Staci for sharing her recipes for this local garden series.

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