Quick harvest meals for busy times

Returning to work and school after the “lazy, hazy days of summer” is truly an adjustment, especially at mealtime. Thanks to these ideas from Foodland Ontario, dinner can be ready in minutes, leaving the evening free for the numerous fall activities.

Harvest gnocchi with feta

Ready in just 25 minutes, this pasta dish makes the most of Ontario’s harvest and ready-made gnocchi. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread for a quick dinner on the go. Leftovers make yummy lunches too!

1 cob of corn (or use ½ cup corn niblets)
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, butter and olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 small zucchini, in ½ inch (1 cm) cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) dried oregano
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb (500 g) potato gnocchi
1 cup (250 mL) each, green and yellow beans, halved
1/4 cup (60 mL) pitted black olives, halved
1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh dill or parsley
Fresh pepper to taste

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Using sharp knife, remove corn kernels from cob; set aside. In large skillet or Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper, zucchini, onion, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, just until vegetables are tender crisp, about five minutes. Stir in tomatoes and corn; reduce heat to low. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain, setting aside 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the cooking water. Add gnocchi, beans, and olives to skillet. Stir in reserved water, feta, dill, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Makes four servings.

Indian-style pork burgers with apple pear chutney

If you prefer, you can substitute turkey or chicken for the pork in these burgers for a tasty patty or meatball. The sweet-sour taste of the chutney is a perfect complement. Any leftover chutney is delicious with other chicken or pork dishes. Serve the burgers with an Asian-style coleslaw and naan bread.

Apple Pear Chutney:
2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) gingerroot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 apples, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup (180 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
1 4-inch (10 cm) cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods (optional)
1 thinly sliced green onion

1 lb (500 g) lean ground pork, chicken or turkey
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped green onion
1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh coriander
4 tsp (20 mL) Indian curry paste such as Madras or Tandoori
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil

Chutney: In stainless steel saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic; cook two minutes or until softened slightly. Stir in apples, pears, sugar, vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, and cardamom if using. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened 15 to 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, stir in green onion and cool. Spoon mixture into jar and cover; cool on rack then refrigerate for up to two weeks. Makes 2 cups (500 mL).

Burgers: In large mixing bowl, combine pork, egg, onion, coriander, curry paste and salt. Divide into four patties. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat. Grill, covered, 5 to 6 minutes per side or until thermometer reads 160°F (71°C) inserted sideways into centre of patty. Serve burgers on lettuce with naan bread and a dollop of apple pear chutney on each burger. Makes four servings.

Asian-style coleslaw

Try this marinated coleslaw as a change from the usual cabbage and mayo combo: combine a 6 cup (1 ½ L) mixture of finely shredded Chinese lettuce, napa, red and green cabbage and add 1 cup (250 mL) natural almonds, half a red pepper cut into thin strips, six finely sliced green onions, and two stalks of sliced celery. Toss with your favourite vinaigrette. Mixture may be made up to an hour ahead, covered and refrigerated. Makes six to eight servings. Leftovers are great the next day!


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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