Friday, April 29, 2011

Broccoli and Cherry Tomato Salad

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We will finish April's Veggie of the Month with a broccoli salad, perfect as a side dish for warmer spring days.  This is a quick and easy recipe and can  be made ahead.  Cherry tomatoes should be available at this time of the year and you may want to add spring onions as well.

 Cleo, Food Bank volunteer

  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1-pint basket cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried

Steam broccoli until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool. Add tomatoes. Place mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in vinegar, then oil. Mix in oregano. Add to salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover, chill.)

Yield: Serves 6

Friday, April 22, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup from Scratch

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This is a basic 'how-to' broccoli soup recipe with suggestions for ingredients to use--besides the broccoli.   Use the quantities you want (a half pound of cheese sounds like a lot to me!) or eliminate those ingredients you don't have or don't wish to use.  Sometimes I add potatoes to broccoli soup to thicken it if I don't want to use cheese and while I have never added mushrooms, I bet they are a great flavor enhancement.
Cleo, Food Bank volunteer


 Things you'll need:

  • fresh broccoli
  • medium onion
  • carrots
  • celery
  • portobello mushrooms
  • milk
  • cheese
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • large pan
  • wooden spoon
  • knife and cutting board
  • Start by dicing the broccoli, onions, carrot, celery, and mushrooms. Grate the carrots because they seem to be more flavorful that way. You are looking for a fine dice on these items.
  • Put a large pan on the stove, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and turn on the heat to about medium. Heat the pan, and add the veggies. Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. Stir with the wooden spoon until the veggies are soft and the onions go clear. Be sure not to burn this mixture. Add a little salt and pepper.
  • Next add two to three cups of vegetable stock. Pour this gently into the pan, avoiding steam that will come up. The stock will pick up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into your soup for even more flavor. Cook this on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in two to three cups of milk. You can use any style of milk that you have on hand, even canned milk if it is not sweetened. Mix thoroughly. Add in one half pound of shredded cheese. I also added a quarter cup of parmesean cheese. Mix over medium to low heat until the cheese is completely melted. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste at this stage.
Tips & Warnings
  • Keep your heat low on this soup to avoid burning or sticking
  • Soup will thicken upon standing or cooling
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly.
  • This soup will be very hot!  
 Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Recipe source 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pan-Roasted Broccoli

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There  is a rumor that kids do not like broccoli.  My two loved broccoli, my daughter calling it 'trees' when she was young.  This recipe, adapted from Cooks Illustrated, is supposed to be good enough to entice children to eat their broccoli.  And it also cooks it to perfection almost every time.  Use it by itself as a side dish or add it to  pasta for  lunch or dinner.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt (heaping if you like a lot of salt)
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional, or use 1/4 tsp. for less spicy)
  • 1-2 Tbs. garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 3/4 – 2 pounds broccoli (about 2 medium bunches) florets cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, stems trimmed and cut on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices or “flowers” about 1 1/2 inches long (about 5 cups florets and 3 cup stems)

1. Stir water, salt, and pepper together in small bowl until salt dissolves; set aside. In 12-inch nonstick skillet with tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat until just about to smoke. Add broccoli stems and cook, without stirring, until browned on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Add florets, red pepper flakes, and garlic (if using) to skillet and toss to combine; cook, without stirring, until bottoms of florets just begin to brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
2. Add water mixture and immediately cover skillet; cook until broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until water has evaporated, broccoli stems are tender, and florets are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more.

Serves 4

Recipe source

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Volunteers of the Month: Lamar and Sal

From left: Sal, Lamar
This month, we decided to highlight two awesome volunteers who came to us through Cache Creek Lodge, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Woodland. Though they are not required to perform community service in order to remain in the program, both Lamar and Sal come as often as they can and have been tremendously helpful as warehouse volunteers.

Both Lamar and Sal were nominated by Roger, our Warehouse Manager, for their exceptional help. They are both extremely hard working, ready and willing to tackle volunteer assignments, have great attitudes, and are very courteous to those around them. Roger has only great things to say about both Lamar and Sal, who have given us over 30 hours of volunteer time each.

Lamar, who is originally from Sacramento, loves to play basketball and keep himself busy. When asked why he decided to volunteer at the Food Bank, he told us it’s because he likes to be productive and enjoys helping others. Though he was very shy at first, he impressed Roger with his “take charge” attitude and has been a pleasure to get to know.

Sal, who is the more outgoing of the two, is from West Sacramento. He also likes to give back to our community by volunteering at the Food Bank. He enjoys the work environment and knowing that at the end of a shift he has done something to help another person out. Sal enjoys all types of art, drawing, and tattooing. Very polite and friendly, Sal has also been a great addition to our volunteer team.

Thank you Lamar and Sal, from Roger and everyone at the Food Bank of Yolo County!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Orzo-Broccoli Pilaf

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The veggie of the month for April is broccoli. This first recipe features not only the veggie but a pasta known as orzo, which looks like rice.  I was surprised to find, after a little research, that orzo was traditionally made from barley but is now made from wheat or semolina.  It is widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.
This would be a great side dish with chicken or fish and a tossed green salad.
Cleo, Food Bank Volunteer

  •  2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 2/3 cup orzo pasta (rosamarina)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (or 1 3/4 cup broth of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon  pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli florets

  1.  In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Cook and stir the mushrooms and onion until onion is tender.
  3. Stir in orzo.
  4. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until orzo is lightly browned.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Carefully stir in broth, carrot, marjoram, and pepper.
  7. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
  8. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until orzo is tender but still firm.
  9. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in broccoli.
  10. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  11. Serve.
Recipe source
Prep and cook time:  35 minutes
Servings: 6