Food to celebrate month of May

The month of May is packed with spring celebrations of all sorts: Mother’s Day, Queen Victoria Day, showers, birthdays, anniversaries – not to mention the first back yard barbecue. All these events call for seasonal food that says parties and the people for whom the food is prepared are special!

The following have been adapted from Foodland Ontario to feature the best local ingredients we have to offer. The recipes are colourful, fresh, and easy to prepare.

Peperonata with Pasta

Peperonata is a classic Italian dish that can be served on its own as a vegetable, or as part of an antipasto, tossed with pasta such as penne or rigatoni. Its versatility, ease of preparation and flavour make it a perfect choice for entertaining or weeknight dining. Leftovers are great when spread on crusty bread for lunch the next day.

2 tbsp (30 mL) each, butter and olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 peppers, red, orange, yellow and green, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (500 mL) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about two)
1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tsp (10 mL) dried basil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt and fresh ground pepper

12 oz (350 g) penne cooked according to pkg directions
1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (60 mL) thinly sliced basil

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Cook onions, covered, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in sliced peppers. Cook, covered, about 8 to 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered until hot and bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with peperonata. Serve with cheese and sliced basil. Makes four servings.

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Strawberry and rhubarb is a springtime combination that never fails to please. If possible, bake and serve these festive-looking cupcakes the same day.

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60 mL) milk
3/4 cup (175 mL) diced rhubarb (about 1/4 inch/.5 cm)

1/4 cup (60 mL) soft cream cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) soft butter
3 tbsp (45 mL) strawberry jam
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar, sifted
Garnish: strawberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line muffin pan with paper liners and spray with baking spray. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In separate bowl using electric mixer, beat butter until soft. Gradually beat in sugar and eggs until fluffy. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk just until smooth. Stir in rhubarb. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350˚F (180˚C) for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan for five minutes; remove cupcakes onto rack and cool completely.

Frosting: In medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until soft and fluffy. Beat in jam. Gradually beat in icing sugar to a spreading consistency. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes or, using a piping bag, pipe a rosette of frosting in the centre of each cupcake.

Garnish each rosette with a heart-shaped slice of strawberry or a whole small strawberry. Makes about eight cupcakes.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~

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