Three Pennsylvania cooks were declared winners in the ninth annual Pennsylvania "Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious" Vegetable Recipe Contest Cook-Off held Friday at the Olewine Center for Culinary Arts at Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg.
Veteran contestant, Frances Dietz of York, won the first-place prizes in both the Melon/Cucumber category and the Summer Squash/Zucchini category.
She has won first-place prizes in three previous contests, including two first-places in 2007 and is the only person to win two first-place prizes in one year.
First-time finalist Mary-Ellen Miller of Orwigsburg won the first-place prize in the Tomatoes/Pepper/Eggplant category, and Teresa DeVono of Red Lion took the prize in the Winter Squash/Pumpkin category.
Four finalists in each category competed for the top prizes. Judges chose the finalist recipes for the Cook-Off from 82 written recipe entries submitted by 40 cooks from across the state. Recipes were scored on the basis of four criteria: creativity, nutrition/healthfulness, ease of preparation 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.
All finalists received a $25 gift certificate to the farm market of their choice.
More recipes are posted on www.paveggies.org.
The judges' comments and the winners' recipes follow:
Dietz won the first-place prize in the Melon/Cucumber category with her "Asian Cucumber Salad," which the judges described as having a "very pleasant" and "refreshing" taste. It featured cucumbers, green onions, radishes and shrimp with a Asian dressing.
Asian Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger root
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 gourmet seedless cucumber, thinly sliced, not pared
4 green onions, thinly sliced
6 red radishes, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
8 ounces lump crabmeat or cooked and peeled shrimp, optional
Make dressing by combining the rice vinegar, ginger root, salt, pepper, honey and sesame oil. Add the cucumber, green onions and radishes. Toss ingredients and allow to stand in refrigerator 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Divide salad among bowls and garnish each with toasted sesame seeds.
Note: If using crab or shrimp, it should be added to salad just before serving.
Dietz also won in the Summer Squash/Zucchini category with a "Zucchini and Chickpea Salad" featuring zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, onions, garlic and feta cheese with an oil, vinegar and herb dressing, a great combination of textures and tastes according to one judge.
19-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin preferred
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, diced
10 kalamata olives, halved and pitted
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (peppercorn feta preferred)
Combine all ingredients except feta cheese; let stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend. Just before serving, add cheese and stir to blend. Best served at room temperature.
Yield:?Serves 9 to 10
DeVono, also a contest winner in 2008, received the highest score in the contest, 37 of a possible 40 points, for her "Snappy Pumpkin Custard Cups" in the Winter Squash/Pumpkin category.
Two of the judges called them "Awesome!" It featured a quick and easy pumpkin custard topped with crumbled ginger snap cookies and whipped topping.
"Snappy" Pumpkin Custard Cups
2 large eggs
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
crushed ginger snap cookies crushed
Cool Whip whipped topping
Beat eggs well and add sugar and flour and mix well. Add pumpkin, milk and cinnamon. Pour into individual-sized ramekins, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 10 minutes until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Top with finely crumbled ginger snap cookies and a dollop of whipped topping.
Miller, a first-time contestant and finalist, won the prize in the Tomatoes/Peppers/Eggplant category for her colorful and refreshing "Garden Gate Chunky Greek Salad."
The combination of cherry tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, onions and Kalamata olives was accompanied by an olive oil, lemon and wine dressing plus fresh herbs and crumbled feta cheese.
Chunky Greek Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Red Shale Chardonay wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup scrubbed and thinly sliced long fresh carrots
1 1/2 cups cucumbers cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup red pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup yellow pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup green pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
6 green onions, cut and chopped into small slices
1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped or sliced Kalamata olives,
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh leaf parsley
1/2 head Romaine lettuce, whole leaves, rinsed, and dried on paper towel
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, Chardonay wine, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, red, yellow and green peppers, green onions, Kalamata olives, mint leaves, and parsley. Toss until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate up to six hours. When ready to serve prepare salad bowl with the whole leaves of Romaine lettuce placed in a circular pattern. Gently add salad and sprinkle with the crumbled feta cheese.