Tony and Sarah Nasello
FARGO — The winter squash season is upon us, and butternut is our personal favorite among the varieties currently in abundance. Butternut is known for its quirky shape, sweet, nutty flavor and versatility. We often enjoy it pureed in soups or roasted in the oven, and this week's pan-sauce recipe for Butternut Bleu Cheese Sauce gives us another way to showcase it in style.
Baking is one of my passions, and I am always looking for an excuse to don my apron, heat up my oven and put my mixer to work. And when that excuse comes in the form of helping others, it's a win-win in my book.
All last winter I kept hearing about this amazing English Muffin Toasting Bread my parents were making while wintering in sunny Florida. Unable to find English muffin bread in any of their local stores, they set upon a mission to make their own version from scratch, with results so good that they couldn't stop talking about it.
A few summers ago, instead of planting our own garden, we joined a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and began receiving weekly boxes of our "share" in the harvest, from June through October. That fall, we received a steady abundance of root vegetables and frantically began searching for new recipes to help us get through our supply.
Zucchini didn't get planted in our garden until mid to late June this year, and for a while it looked like our plant wouldn't have enough time to produce anything worth harvesting. Fortunately, zucchini is as hearty as it is prolific, and I am now faced with the task of finding ways to use all of our bounty, especially those that have grown beyond a manageable size. Thankfully, this week's Zucchini Apple Bread is not only moist and delicious, but also easy to make—and it freezes beautifully, making it a perfect recipe for this occasion.
Eggplant is often overlooked in favor of more traditional vegetables, but this dark purple beauty is one of our favorite vegetables, and it's been a mainstay in our garden for years. We await its arrival each summer, eagerly anticipating its use in classic Italian dishes like eggplant parmigiana, caponata, braciole and grilled eggplant pasta rolls, all of which have been featured recipes in this column.
Three summers ago, our son Gio and I were visiting my parents at Lake Sallie. Before I could even unpack my car, my dad approached me, waving a copy of a magazine open to a page of mouth-watering steak and tomatoes. "Can we make this together, Sarah?" he asked. Confronted with such enthusiasm, how could I say no?
FARGO — This week's recipe is inspired by what we are currently harvesting in our vegetable garden, or more appropriately, Gio's vegetable garden. Our soon-to-be teenage son has spent the summer lovingly tending his garden, which is now coming into August abundance with a bounty of sweet yellow onions, green bell peppers, mouth-watering tomatoes and a crazy amount of cucumbers. We've combined these garden-fresh ingredients with red kidney beans for protein and a zesty red wine and oregano vinaigrette to create our August Abundance Salad.
We love to find our inspiration locally whenever possible, and after a recent trip to a local farmer's market we came home with a lovely assortment of fresh veggies, including a large bag of baby red potatoes that were just begging to be turned into a new dish. With fresh green beans and scallions also in our haul, I knew we had the components of a great potato salad. Add some crispy bacon and a zesty Dijon vinaigrette, and voila, this week's recipe for Red Potato, Green Bean and Bacon Salad was born.
Earlier this month, Tony and I participated in the Fourth Annual Banquet in a Field, hosted by Carl and Julie Peterson at Peterson Farms Seed in rural Cass County. We have been the guest chefs for this event since it began, and back then we could count on one hand the number of farmers we knew personally. The only crops we could confidently identify were corn, sunflowers and wheat and neither of us had ever visited a working farm.