Exciting things are happening at Helena Food Share. We’re starting to prep our gardens, local chickens are laying like crazy for a wonderful abundance of donated farm-fresh eggs, we’re looking ahead to our summer Block Party next month on June 10, and we’re firing up some food demos.
In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I’ll be doing a food demo of Black Bean Quesadillas and Fresh Homemade Salsa at our Lewis Street pantry on Thursday, May 5, from 12:30-2 p.m.
To learn more about upcoming events at Helena Food Share such as our “Charlie Cart” mobile kitchen demonstrations given by a variety of local chefs, check out our event calendar on our website (located under the Nutrition section at helenafoodshare.org/calendar/). If you are a local chef who would be interested in doing a demo, we’d love to hear from you. Our focus is to provide a recipe or two of simple nutritious foods to help folks learn new ways to incorporate healthier choices into their home menus.
For this month’s recipes, I’ve made a lovely springtime-themed Risotto Primavera that’s chock full of fresh veggies, a hearty meal-in-a-bowl salad with roasted chicken, and some fresh berry yogurt parfaits with homemade granola.
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1 medium onion, diced small
4 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
1 small yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and then sliced
1 bunch asparagus (about 3 cups) cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus a little for garnishing
In a large skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic over medium to almost medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to mix everything together well. Add the white wine along with a little salt and pepper, and stir until the wine is absorbed.
Reduce the heat slightly. Add half a cup of the stock, stirring frequently, until the stock has been absorbed. Continue the process of adding half a cup of stock at a time, allowing about 5 minutes of stirring and cooking time per addition, until you have only one cup of stock left.
Add the roasted red peppers, the squash, asparagus, and peas, stir to mix well, and then add the remaining stock, in two separate additions. Once the last of the stock has been absorbed, add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the half cup of parmesan and the parsley, add a little more parmesan on top of each serving, and enjoy.
For me, spring fever inspires salad fever as well, and since it’s still too early for all of the light vegetables of summer, a hearty salad with thinly sliced root vegetables fills the gap nicely.
For this salad, I used dandelion greens this time because I personally love the bitter taste, but I realize that not everyone does, so feel free to use greens that are more palatable to you for your salad. If you do enjoy dandelion greens, we’re right on the cusp of being able to harvest the first crop of them from your untreated lawns, so if you’re like me, get out there and enjoy one of the first available salad greens of the season.
Hearty Salad w/Root Vegetables and Roasted Chicken
4 cups chopped hearty greens, such as kale, radicchio, dandelion, romaine, cabbage, or any greens of your choice.
1 beet, quartered and then thinly sliced (peeled if you like)
1 cup cauliflower florets, thinly sliced
4-6 salad turnips, thinly sliced
4-6 radishes of your choice, thinly sliced
1 roasted chicken breast, chilled, cut into 1-inch slices
To prepare the chicken ahead of time, lightly coat your chicken breast with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Tajin. Roast in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes until your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. Refrigerate until chilled; can be prepared a couple of days in advance if you like.
3 Tb nutritional yeast flakes (available at health food stores. Also excellent sprinkled on popcorn!)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Whisk together all of the ingredients and toss half a cup of the dressing with your salad ingredients to coat evenly. The remaining salad dressing keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
Yogurt Berry Parfaits with Homemade Granola
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 Tb neutral oil such as canola
Toss all of the ingredients together to mix well. Pour the granola out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and press together into an imperfect layer with most of the ingredients touching. What you want is for the oats and other ingredients to form clusters when it’s done. Bake for about 15 minutes until the oats look toasty. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then crumble into clusters.
As an option, you can also add dried fruit such as cranberries, currants, or chopped dates to your cooled granola; just toss to incorporate.
2 Tb maple syrup or to taste
1/2 cup of your homemade granola
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt and maple syrup together until smooth. If you prefer to skip this step, you can substitute any flavored yogurt of your choice.
In a parfait glass, layer the granola, berries, and yogurt, and serve.
Our Mission at Helena Food Share: Serving our neighbors in need by providing food in a respectful and dignified way and by working with others to eliminate hunger in the greater Helena area.
If you are in need of food and would like more information, or if you would like to make a donation, contact Helena Food Share at 406-443-3663, or visit our website at www.helenafoodshare.org.
Sally Beck works at Helena Food Share, where she regularly demonstrates new recipes on the Charlie Cart mobile kitchen. She is a food enthusiast, professional baker and has owned her own restaurant.