State recipe contest winners bring new ideas to vegetables

The winners of the 2013 Vegetable Recipe Contest, held by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program, were announced after an Aug. 8 Cook-Off held in Lebanon.

Veteran contestant Frances Dietz of York repeated last year’s feat of winning the first place prize in two categories.

She won the first-place prizes in both the Snap Bean/Lima Bean/Pea and Sweet Corn categories. She has won first-place prizes in four previous contests, including two first-places in 2007 and in 2012 and is the only person to win two first-place prizes in one year.

First-time finalist Sally Kocan of Gibsonia won the first-place prize in the Leafy Greens category, and Marilyn Goldfarb of Boalsburg took the prize in the Broccoli/Cabbage/Cauliflower category.

The Cook-Off was held on Aug. 8 at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center in Lebanon.

Four finalists in each category completed for the top prizes. Judges chose the finalist recipes for the Cook-Off from 90 written recipe entries submitted by 43 cooks from across the state. Recipes were scored on five criteria: creativity, nutrition/healthfulness, ease of preparation, use of a category vegetable as major ingredient and overall appeal.

Recipe entries had to contain as a major ingredient at least one vegetable in the category. Recipes were required to be created or modified by the contestant or a member of the contestant’s family.

Also cooking during the Cook Off was finalist Tom Orlando of Altoona. Orlando, a vegetarian, placed fifth in the first round of the Snap Bean/Lima Beans/Peas category, but was asked to take part in the final cook-off when someone could not make the finals, he said.

“There was a good group in each of four categories, and we each cooked/prepared our specialty. The catch for me was that, though it was a vegetable recipe contest, there were meat ingredients (chicken, shrimp, bacon) included in many, so it was not strictly a vegetarian contest,” he said.

“In the final group of winners [one for each of the four groups], each winner won a $100 bill, and I missed out on one of those. But, the other contestants liked my beans, and I have to admit that my wife and I liked many of the dishes the others made,” he said, adding they pushed aside the meat.

Orlando won $25 for his dish, the recipe for which follows:

Tom’s Better Beans

2 pounds green and/or yellow string beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped

2 baby bella mushrooms without stems

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon savory

1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Lay beans on countertop and trim off each end with a scissor or knife. Cut each bean in half or thirds so each piece is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

While trimming, start pot of water to boil with about 1 teaspoon of salt added. When the water is boiling, add trimmed beans, with a vented cover on the pot.

Start heating a large fry pan that has a good lid, and add the olive oil, chopped onion and sliced mushrooms. Let cook on low while beans are boiling lightly for about 1 minute. Drain beans, and add to fry pan. Sprinkle on spices and soy sauce. Let cook on medium to low with lid on for about 15 minutes, then with a small spatula, stir the beans to mix thoroughly. Stir every 15 minutes or so, about two or three times, then remove from heat.

Allow cooked beans to sit for at least a few minutes before eating.

It’s best if they’re allowed to stay warm for about an hour in an insulated cover (such as when going to a covered-dish dinner.)


Corn and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

15-ounce can black-eyed peas – drained

8-ounce can whole kernel corn – drained

1 cup grape tomatoes – halved

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

4 green onions – sliced

1 outer rib celery – halved lengthwise, then sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 small clove garlic – minced

12 Kalamata olives – halved and pitted

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/3 cup fat free blue cheese dressing

1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 or 3 ounces feta cheese – crumbled

Combine first nine ingredients in a bowl. Combine and mix the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, to make dressing. Taste and season it with salt and pepper as necessary.

Refrigerate at least two hours, however flavor is best after 24 hours. Before serving, stir cheese into salad.

Makes 8 servings

– Frances Dietz, York, First-Place,

Sweet Corn category

Asian Style Stewed Cauliflower

Serves 8 as a side dish. Can serve 4 over rice as a vegetarian main dish. If so, replace fish sauce with no-anchovy Worcestershire sauce.

1 head cauliflower

1 1/2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 large ripe tomatoes chopped, (or a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, lightly drained)

1 tablespoon ground coriander seed

1 teaspoon tumeric

2 to 3 chopped jalapeno peppers

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup dry-roasted, lightly salted peanuts

2 tablespoons low fat sour cream

Trim cauliflower into bite size pieces. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger and saut for two minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, turmeric and jalapeno. Add broth, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil. Stir in cauliflower to coat well.

Lower heat to low- medium, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes. Stir in greens, peanuts, and sour cream and serve.

– Marilyn Goldfarb, Boalsburg, First Place, Broccoli/Cabbage/Cauliflower category

Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

1 large boneless, skinless chicken half breast – thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce – divided

1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger root

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups diagonally halved pea pods, ends trimmed

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

1/2 cup red bell pepper slivers

1 medium yellow onion – cut in slivers

1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

generous grinding black pepper

4 servings cooked instant brown rice

2 green onions – sliced

Combine chicken, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, ginger root, garlic and sesame oil, then let stand 10 minutes. Combine chicken broth, cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce and set aside. Heat olive oil in large skillet or wok. Add pea pods, carrots, red pepper and onion, then stir-fry for 1 minute. Add chicken, and then stir-fry for three more minutes.

Add broth mixture, then cook and stir until boiling. While boiling, stir in peanuts and black pepper. Taste and add salt, if needed. Serve stir-fry over rice. Garnish it with green onions.

Makes 4 servings

– Frances Dietz, York, First-Place, Snap Bean/Lima Bean/Pea category

Garden Fresh Beans and Greens

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

6 cups mixed greens (arugula, kale, mustard greens, spinach, collard greens, and/or swiss chard), stems removed and chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

15.5-ounce can of cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained

15.5-ounce can of chopped tomatoes

1/2 pound of cooked sliced italian sausage (optional)

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

fresh grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet on low heat so as not to burn the garlic. Add the greens in two to three batches and stir to coat with the oil and garlic. Add the chicken stock to further wilt the greens. Add the beans and the tomatoes and continue to stir.

For a heartier meal, add pre-cooked sliced Italian sausage. Toss the greens with the hot pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Top with a generous portion of fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Serves 3 to 5 as a side dish, 2 to 3 as an entree

– Sally Kocan, Gibsonia, First Place, Leafy Greens category

For recipes of all of the finalists, go to or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Program at : PA Vegetable Mktg. & Res. Program, 815 Middle Road, Richfield, PA 17086.

The Vegetable Recipe Contest is sponsored annually by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program, a marketing order for vegetable growers under the state Department of Agriculture. Growers pay annual assessments to the Program to promote Pennsylvania-grown vegetables and to fund practical vegetable production research at Penn State and other universities. The Vegetable Recipe Contest is designed to generate creative new recipes for consumers to use to enjoy fresh, local Pennsylvania vegetables. The finalist recipes for the previous years’ contests are also posted on the Program’s website at