Springtime Foods Liven Up Seasonal Celebrations

Springtime Foods

Springtime ushers in fun-filled celebrations with friends and family. Make these special occasions truly special by serving your guests tasty, nutritious dishes made with Ontario’s top-notch ingredients.

Now is the time to start planning before your festive calendar starts filling up.
Kick off your family feast with a Roasted Beet Salad. Cleverly featuring sweet beets and tart cranberries, this salad is rich in antioxidants.

Pasta is a sure-fire crowd pleaser, and Penne Peperonata, loaded with sweet Ontario red, yellow or orange peppers, is packed with flavour.

Slow-cookers are back in vogue, so with that in mind, we’ve created a hearty main course fragrant with herbs and brimming with Ontario vegetables. Voilà— Slow-Cooker Chicken Provençal.

End your meal with two desserts that play off Ontario rhubarb’s sweet/tart flavour. Rhubarb Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing are a fun and decadent treat. Rhubarb Apple Cobbler combines two scrumptious fruits into one spectacular dessert.

Let the season’s celebrations begin!


Roasted Beet Salad
Roasting the beets brings out their sweetness, and the cranberries provide a sweet-tart finish to this salad.

3 each Ontario Red and Gold Beets (about 2 lb/1 kg)
1 cup (250 mL) frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) cranberry juice or water
3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) red wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) finely sliced Ontario Red Onion
Garnish: Fresh Ontario Pea Sprouts or Herbs (optional)

Trim tops and tips of beets, leaving about 1-inch (2.5 cm) stems. Wrap individually with foil; place on baking sheet. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender when pierced with sharp knife. Remove foil and let cool slightly; trim ends and slip off skins. Cut into quarters and place in large bowl.

In medium saucepan, combine cranberries, juice, sugar and vinegar; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes, using masher to crush berries after 3 minutes. Cook until jam-like consistency. Stir cranberry mixture and onion into beets until combined. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with pea sprouts (if using).

Penne Peperonata
Sweet peppers are even sweeter in this simple but delicious Italian classic.

1 lb (500 g) penne pasta
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
2 Ontario Greenhouse Sweet Red, Yellow or Orange Peppers,
thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) sliced Ontario Red Onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped Ontario Greenhouse Tomatoes
1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) dried oregano leaves
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) thinly sliced fresh Ontario Basil

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain well and return to pot; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook peppers for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add onion; cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar and oregano; cook until hot and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Stir into pasta. Serve sprinkled with cheese and basil.

Slow Cooker Chicken Provençal
The region of Provence in the southeast of France is known for its fragrant herb mixture, which combines beautifully with Ontario ingredients in this classic chicken slow-cooker dish. If desired, add a 19 oz (540 mL) can white kidney beans (drained and rinsed) at end of cooking and heat through.

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 large Ontario Onion, chopped
1 pkg (8 oz/227 g) Ontario Button Mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup (175 mL) dry Ontario White Wine, such as Chardonnay
6 tbsp (90 mL) tomato paste
2 tbsp (25 mL) packed brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp (12 mL) herbes de Provence or herb mixture (see below)
3 lb (1.5 kg) skinless Ontario Chicken Thighs and Legs
4 cups (1 L) chopped Ontario Greenhouse Tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) chopped Ontario Greenhouse Sweet Yellow Peppers
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup (75 mL) kalamata olives
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh Ontario Parsley

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in wine, tomato paste, brown sugar and herbes de Provence; cook until bubbly. Remove from heat.

In slow-cooker, place chicken, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mushroom mixture over top. Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, or until chicken is tender. Before serving, stir in olives and parsley.
Herb Mixture: Combine 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each dried basil, marjoram or oregano, rosemary and tarragon leaves and 1 bay leaf.

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
Rhubarb and strawberry is a much-loved combination enjoyed in pies and preserves. The rhubarb is in the cupcake with strawberry jam in the icing to get that special taste in every bite!

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
2 Ontario Eggs
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1/4 cup (50 mL) Ontario Milk
3/4 cup (175 mL) diced Ontario Rhubarb
(about 1/4-inch/0.5 cm)
1/4 cup (50 mL) cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp (45 mL) strawberry jam
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp (10 mL) Ontario Milk
Strawberry jam (optional)

Line a muffin pan with paper liners; set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk, just until smooth. Stir in rhubarb. Using ice cream scoop or large spoons, spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes; remove cupcakes onto rack and cool completely.

Icing: In medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in jam. Add icing sugar and milk; beat until very smooth. Spread icing over cooled cupcakes (or use piping bag). If desired, drizzle a bit of strawberry jam (thinned with a bit of water), over icing. Store in airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.

src: Foodlandontario

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