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Going green: Meals fresh from the garden to the table

on April 14, 2013 1:50 AM

Earth Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with garden-fresh vegetables. Whether you grow your own vegetables or shop the produce aisle in your grocery store, veggies can add beautiful color and great taste to the table.

Ree Drummond, known to her fans as The Pioneer Woman, is raising four active kids on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma and has written two best-selling cookbooks. She says she loves to find new ways to put more delicious veggies on her family’s table.

“I get so excited about my garden — maybe a little too excited!” Drummond says. “Sometimes I literally have vegetables coming out my ears. Fortunately, I’ve got four kids who love to pick just about anything I plant, so everything gets harvested on time — if not a little earlier.”

“When I bring those veggies into my kitchen, nothing shows off their fresh flavor like a little bit of butter …”

If you don’t have a vegetable garden or can’t always get fresh produce, don’t despair. Flash-frozen vegetables retain much of their flavor and nutrient value. Thaw vegetables before using them in these recipes, or just heat them through and toss with high-quality butter for an easy side dish.

When they taste this good, kids will be saying, “More veggies, please!”

Ree Drummond has partnered with Land O’Lakes and blogs at www.ThePioneerWoman.com.

Find more garden-fresh recipes at www.LandOLakes.com.

Spring Stir-Fry

Yield: 4 servings

1 half stick (4 tablespoons) butter, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound whole jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed off, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lemon

1/4ᄐ cup finely minced fresh parsley

Fresh Parmesan shavings, as desired

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir to cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, or until opaque. Remove shrimp and garlic to a plate. Do not clean skillet.

Add the rest of the butter and melt. Add carrots and asparagus in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender but still slightly crisp.

Scoot carrots and asparagus to edges of pan, then add peas to middle of pan. Cook for one to two minutes, stirring gently, until peas are heated through and tender.

Add shrimp back to pan, stir to toss, then add salt and pepper. Squeeze juice of one lemon all over contents of pan and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Sprinkle parsley over top.

Serve stir fry immediately over cooked rice, or on its own. Top with Parmesan shavings and squeeze on extra lemon juice if needed.

Pasta Primavera

Yield: 6 servings

For the pasta:

1 half stick (4 tablespoons) butter, divided

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally

1 cup bite-sized broccoli pieces

2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally

1 medium summer squash, sliced diagonally

4 ounces white mushrooms, washed and sliced

1/2 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup diced cooked ham

8 whole basil leaves, chopped (set aside extra chopped basil, for garnish)

1 pound pasta (penne, fusilli or linguini), cooked according to package directions and drained

For the sauce:

1/4 cup dry white wine (up to ᄑ cup), optional (replace with additional broth if not using)

ᄑ1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup half-and-half

Black pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (set aside extra grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish)

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook for 1 minute, then add broccoli and cook for an additional minute. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add 1 additional tablespoon butter to skillet and allow it to melt. Add zucchini, squash and mushrooms, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to soften. Remove from skillet and add to other vegetables. Set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and allow it to melt. Add onions and garlic to skillet and cook for 2 minutes, or until starting to turn translucent. Pour in wine and chicken broth and stir, scraping bottom of pan to loosen flavorful bits. Cook liquid for 3 to 4 minutes, allowing it to reduce by about half. Stir in cream and half-and-half, then add Parmesan and allow cheese to melt. Add black pepper to taste. Let sauce thicken for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add all vegetables to sauce, then add frozen peas, diced ham and chopped basil. Stir to combine everything. If sauce needs a little more liquid, splash in a small amount of broth as needed.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl.

Pour all contents of skillet over pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with extra chopped basil and serve with extra Parmesan.

Margherita Pasta

Yield: 4 servings

6 ounces (1ᄑ cups) uncooked dried penne pasta

1 half stick (4 tablespoons) butter

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

2 medium (2 cups) tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; return to saucepan. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until softened. Add tomatoes and basil; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through (1 to 2 minutes).

Add pasta and Parmesan cheese, stir until combined.

Serve immediately.

Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, quartered

1/4 cup red onion, sliced

3 large cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 half stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 425°F. Arrange asparagus, mushrooms and onions on aluminum foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle melted butter and lemon juice over top.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until asparagus are tender and lightly browned.

—Courtesy of Land O’ Lakes and Family Features

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