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Seasonal Delights: Garlic, Artichokes, Leeks, Squash – and Cheese!September 12, 2012
Like many avid home cooks, I love to follow the seasons, choosing the freshest local ingredients available. People can argue about local versus global food distribution until the (grass-fed) cows come home, but my palate tells me that when it comes to produce, fresh is best, every time. In Canada, that means that the summer months (and I include September over the strenuous objections of my kicking and screaming back-to-school children) are as close to nirvana as it gets.
September brings seasonal delights including garlic, artichokes, squash and leeks, all of which have something very pleasing in common for a cheese blogger – they marry beautifully with a wide range of cheese varieties. That means an early Saturday morning at the farmers market, greeting the fine folks who produce my food and making pleasant small talk about yields and rain and pests and – most importantly – the ‘don’t miss’ flavours of the week.
Then it’s off to the grocery store for staples, breads, fish and cheeses. The manager of my store of choice is a Tre Stelle® fan, so I know I’ll get the quality and selection I desire. I don’t look upon any of this process as a chore.
I shopped every week with my Dad as a child, reasoning with a child’s cunning that my presence would influence what appeared on my plate in the week to come. Then it’s home, to unpack my treasures and start cooking a fresh dinner and perhaps a few dishes to make weeknight meal preparation less rushed.
Here are a few of the Tre Stelle® recipes I’ve selected to make the most of what’s in season right now.
Baked Artichokes: Tre Stelle® Grana Padano Cheese, grated, is mixed with breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, pepper, lemon zest and oil to form the stuffing for fresh artichokes that have been boiled to tenderness. The stuffing is placed between the leaves of the vegetable, then baked along with a little white wine. In the last few minutes of cooking, a little more grated Grana Padano is melted on top.
Chicken Stew With Ricotta Dumpling: Leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, zucchini and plum tomatoes add lots of nutrition to this creamy chicken stew, made more memorable with easy dumplings featuring Tre Stelle® Ricotta Cheese. This is comfort food at its best, and a perfect meal as summer fades into cooler fall.
Havarti Filled Acorn Squash: You’ve got to love a recipe that comes with its own serving dish. The seeds are removed from small acorn squash that are then baked. The baked squash is then scraped out, leaving a half-inch rim, then mixed with sautéed butter, shallot, apple, sage and oregano. Next you add breadcrumbs and a 200 g package of Dofino® Havarti Cheese, Herbs and Spices, cut into 1/4” cubes. The mixture is stuffed back into the squash, then baked for 15 minutes.
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