Summer Fruits and Vegetables, Recipes to Enjoy

Cherries. Photo: pexels.com

As summer gets into full swing, fresh fruits and vegetables should be taking center stage in our meals. Picked at their peak, fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating local also guarantees that the produce is the freshest it can be and contains the most vitamins and minerals possible. Among the fruits now in season, cherries contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and a moderate amount of fiber and vitamin C. Sour or tart cherries have a slightly higher vitamin C and vitamin A content than sweet cherries. Like all red fruits and vegetables, sour cherries contain anthocyanins, a class of antioxidant phytochemical that fights diseases including cancer and heart disease. Try the following recipes which feature tart cherries.

Tahini Muffins with Tart Cherries

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup zea flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/2 cup tart cherries, chopped and pits removed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
3/4 cup oat milk or almond milk
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Greek thyme honey
1/2 cup tahini
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, stir together oats, flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Then add the tart cherries and the walnuts, and stir to lightly coat them in flour, so they don’t sink to the bottom of the muffins. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oat milk, oil, honey, tahini, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. While the oven is preheating, fill the prepared (greased and floured or lined with paper baking cups) muffin cups with batter, 3/4 full. Bake the muffins at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a tooth pick or cake tester comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about five minutes before serving.

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Tart Cherries

4 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
2 cups cooked bulgar
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
4 ounces feta, crumbled

For the dressing:
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the first seven ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and add to the salad as much as preferred. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar or container, use within a few days. Toss to coat the salad evenly in the dressing. Serve immediately.

Couscous Salad with Tart Cherries

1 cup couscous (uncooked)
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cucumber, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cups spinach

For the dressing:
Greek extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley and mint

In a mixing bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients, add the boiling water, cover the bowl with a plate or a clean kitchen towel, and let stand until the couscous is cooked, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then add the chickpeas, cucumber, onion, almonds, and spinach and stir together with a drizzle of olive oil, and the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chopped herbs, to taste.

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