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Video: Spring vegetable dishes

TODAY
updated 5/6/2005 3:57:44 PM ET 2005-05-06T19:57:44

Forget the freezer section in the supermarket. With spring here and summer around the corner, you can do much of your food shopping in the produce section. The Scotto family of New York's Fresco restaurant were invited on "Today" to share their hit vegetable dishes that you can easily re-create in your kitchen. Here are the recipes.

Poached Artichokes Stuffed With Tomato and Onion Salad
Serves 6

Artichokes
4 lemons
6 large artichokes
2 cups dry white wine
8 whole cloves garlic
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Tomato Salad
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl or pot, combine 2 quarts of water and the juice of 2 of the lemons. Drop the squeezed lemons in the water.

Prepare the artichokes by snipping off the thorny ends of the leaves. Using your fingers, push the leaves apart to expose the choke. Use a teaspoon or serrated grapefruit spoon to scoop out and discard the choke, taking care to remove the whole choke. As each artichoke is finished, drop it in the lemon water.

In a large stockpot, combine the wine, garlic, salt, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and juice of the remaining 2 lemons with approximately 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add the artichokes. When all are in the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 50 minutes, until the artichokes are fork tender.

Remove artichokes, drain, cool and place in refrigerator for an hour or two until cold.

To make the salad, combine the tomatoes and onion in a bowl and toss gently. Add the basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and toss to mix.

Trim the bottoms of the artichokes so that they stand upright. Spoon the salad into the center of the artichokes and drizzle each with a little olive oil.


Spring Vegetable Cannelloni Stuffed With Robiola Cheese, Spinach, Carrots, Leeks, Toasted Bread Crumbs, and Parmesan Cheese

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1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, diced small
1/2 cup leeks, julienne
2 bunches fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1 pound Robiola cheese
1/4 cup mixed chopped herbs (parsley, chives and chervil)
4 fresh pasta sheets (store bought)
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup shallots, minced
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1-1/2 sticks of butter, melted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup olive oil and simmer carrots and leeks for about 5 minutes, then add spinach and cook for another 3 minutes. Put aside and let cool down.

In a mixing bowl, combine Robiola cheese, cooked vegetables, salt and pepper. Add a half portion of the herbs and mix well.

Cut pasta sheets into 6-inch squares. Add cheese vegetable filling and roll. Repeat until all the filling is used.

In another sauté pan over medium heat, toss together bread crumbs, remaining chopped herbs, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup olive oil, and 1 stick melted butter.

When bread crumbs are golden brown, remove from heat and cool down, then mix in Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Place cannelloni in baking dish, brush with remaining 1/2 stick of melted butter, and sprinkle with bread crumb cheese mixture. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden brown.

Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh chive, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely diced
8 Portobello mushrooms
3 red onions, medium size, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Gorgonzola Dolce cheese, cut in 4 pieces
roasted peppers (see recipe that follows)

Combine extra virgin olive oil and chopped herbs; mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, add mushrooms and onions; toss with the olive oil and herb mixture. Let mushrooms and onions marinate for 1 hour before grilling.

Cook mushrooms and onions on a hot grill for about 4 minutes on each side.

Layer 1 Portobello mushroom with grilled onions, roasted peppers, and cheese then top with another Portobello mushroom (to form a sandwich). Place each sandwich in a baking pan at 350 degrees F and cook until Gorgonzola cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

Roasted Sweet Peppers
Makes 4 cups

3 firm sweet red bell peppers
3 firm sweet yellow bell peppers
3 firm sweet green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, peeled, and sliced very thin
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
Salt to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the peppers by roasting them over a charcoal or gas flame; set the peppers on a grill about 4-inches above the hot, glowing coals. Turn peppers frequently until skins are thoroughly blackened and blistered. Use a long handled fork if roasting over a gas flame.

Once the peppers are black, place them in a paper bag or cover them with a kitchen towel and set aside to rest until they're cool enough to handle.

Peel the peppers by pulling and rubbing away the blackened skin, using your fingers or a sharp knife if necessary to get rid of stubborn bits. Do not do this under running water as it washes away much of the flavor. Cut the pepper in half, discarding seeds and white membranes, and slice the pepper halves into long strips about 1-inch thick.

Place peppers in a small bowl and layer with garlic, oregano and a little salt. Cover with olive oil and marinate.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

1 9-inch pie shell (store-bought or your favorite pie shell recipe)
2 cups 1-inch thick rhubarb slices
2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, and cut in half
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon
1 teaspoon salt
Crumb topping (see recipe that follows)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, lemon and salt. (Rhubarb is tart. Depending on your taste, you might want to add more sugar.) Turn into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle crumbs on top.  Bake for 15 minutes more or until crumbs are brown and pie is bubbly.  Set aside and cool on rack.

Crumb Topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened

Combine ingredients; mix with hands until large crumbs form.

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