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We are in the depths of winter, with no fresh vegetables to be found other than the root vegetables that have been stored to last until spring.
Fresh imported vegetables can come with a steep price tag. In 2019, Statistics Canada revealed a 16.7 per cent increase of fresh vegetables, year over year. Rather than bust your food budget on fresh vegetables, you can balance it out by incorporating frozen vegetables. The results can be delicious with just a little bit of finesse.
When using frozen vegetables, we throw fistfuls into our soups and stews, but the seemingly lowly frozen vegetable is far more versatile. It is important to note, frozen vegetables are flash frozen shortly after harvest, a practice that preserves many of the important nutrients we need for optimal health.
When it comes to getting the most enjoyment out of your frozen vegetables, I have a few go-to tips you can use as a rule of thumb:
1) Procrastinate: Frozen vegetables take far less time to cook than their fresh counterparts. Wait until the last moment before you add the freezer harvest to your dish. For example, if I am making cream of broccoli soup, I’ll save a cup of florets to add once the soup is pureed and ready to eat.
2) Punch it: Seasonings are essential in bringing vibrancy to your freezer veggies. Sriracha, honey, lime juice, freshly cracked black pepper, minced garlic and fresh rosemary are great combinations to make those frozen veggies present with prominence on your plate.
3) Make it a saucy number: Whether it’s a creamy pasta, or a sweet and sour BBQ sauce, the sauciness closes up the gap where the flavours of frozen vegetables fall short when compared to the fresh counterparts.
Don’t feel like you are settling for something lesser when reaching for veggies from the freezer, there’s a lot of potential for satisfying meal conveniently close at hand.
Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Dip w/ Cranberry Compote
Created by Ilona Daniel
- 4 cups cubed frozen butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ Tbsp chopped rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 6 ounces cream cheese (almost 1 package, which is 8 ounces) or substitute w/ plant based creamy cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and spread out on baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes until fork tender, tossing halfway through.
Add the roasted butternut squash to a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary
Make the cranberry compote by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the dip into a serving dish, something wider than taller is best. Spoon the cranberry compote in the center of the dip. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or pecans if desired. Serve with pita or your favourite dippers.
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