Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tortellini and Vegetables from Donna Birdsell

I don't know about you all, but I'm already hungry from Shirley Hailstock's recipe yesterday and Donna's today! Tune in tomorrow for a great one from Stevi Mittman! --Shirley, who is working on the next book! (P.S., if you haven't read Donna's book, you are missing a great one. It's a June release, so it might not be in stores anymore, but it's worth asking your bookseller to get for you!! I read it and loved it! She's going to be in a Christmas anthology from Next, too, so keep that on your To Buy list. Oh, and check out her site, too. Very cute!!)

I love the summer--not so much for the weather, but for the food!

For the first time this year, we joined a farm cooperative, which means we get fresh vegetables and fruit straight from the farms in Amish country once a week. It’s been like a little taste of heaven. Everything we eat looks just like supermarket food, but the taste… Wow.

This food hasn’t hitched a ride by truck across the entire country, only to sit in a bin at the Grocery Giant, pale and sad, sprayed down like an ex-con being de-liced. This food is FRESH.

For those of you who have farms or vegetable gardens, you know what I mean. But I have a black thumb, and the one time I tried to grow my own vegetables, I got nothing but a couple of scrawny carrots and a few worm-eaten tomatoes.

It’s corn and peach season at the farms now. Next week we’ll see some zucchini and beets and blueberries.

Besides all the delicious produce, joining to co-op has had other benefits as well. We’re supporting local organic agriculture, and teaching our kids to try new things every week. (I still can’t believe they ate mustard greens.) They also love to help me wash and cut up the veggies, and we try to find creative ways to use the things we’ve rarely eaten before. Kohlrabi, anyone??

Needless to say, there’s an abundance of food, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. Here’s one recipe that can be made with fresh ingredients in the summer, and canned or frozen in the winter. Enjoy!

Tortellini and Vegetables (Serve hot or cold)

1 package Barilla Three-Cheese Tortellini
1 medium to large tomato, diced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil (or 1 T fresh chopped)
(If you can’t get good tomatoes or you’re in a hurry, you can substitute one 15-oz can of diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano and basil for the above 4 ingredients)
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup baby spinach leaves
3 T olive oil
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

While cooking tortellini according to package, steam broccoli, red bell peppers and spinach together.
Drain tortellini and add vegetables.
Add tomatoes, garlic and herbs.
Gently toss in olive oil.
Shave parmesan over tortellini, to taste.


Donna Birdsell
Author, Madam of the House

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