How Some Seasonal Favorites Can “Be” The Center of Great May Meals!
May 2023 Issue
By Leslie Rohland
Photography by Lucy Rosen
We’ve all heard April showers bring May flowers, however, they also bring some of the most delectable, fresh-off-the-farm produce bursting with flavor. Here in the Lowcountry, May is a great month to indulge in the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and kick off a whole summer of spectacular seasonal eating.
There are many reasons to “eat seasonally” when it comes to produce, the main one being enjoying the richest, ripest, peak flavors. In addition, foods eaten in season are more nutritionally-dense than forced, out-of-season produce and are more abundant from local, or at least closer, resources, which means it’s at it’s lowest cost of the season, too.
When it comes to the harvest of May, three of my favorites are beets, broccoli and blueberries. When eaten seasonally they are filled with fresh flavor and nutrients. Vibrantly colored beets, now popular on many restaurant menus, are loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in calories and fat! They add a distinctive earthy flavor to many dishes like soups, salads, and sides. Broccoli brings a nutritional boost to any dish, offering a plentitude of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and antioxidants. The health benefits of broccoli can impact eye and heart health and disease prevention. Ripe, plump, in-season blueberries are not only everyone’s favorite summertime sweet treat, but they are also among the most nutritious foods in the world. Overflowing with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, Blueberries are a superfood that can help manage cholesterol, blood sugar and potentially reduce blood pressure. ’Tis the season to eat ripe, fresh and seasonal! Now let’s “be” healthy and include beets, broccoli and blueberries in some really delicious dishes. And, “be” sure to try these recipes—some of my favorites!
GOLDEN BROCCOLI GRATIN
2 lbs Broccoli
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
2 Tbsps Butter, unsalted
Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Flour, all-purpose
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 Yellow onion, sliced
1 Bay leaf
2 Tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cut the heads from the broccoli stalks and into small florets. Peel the stalks and thinly slice. Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water, then drain well. In a 10-inch fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated and fragrant—1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the onion and bay leaf and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and add the Gruyere, stirring until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the broccoli and spread in an even layer. In a small bowl, stir together the panko, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the this mixture over the broccoli mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the gratin is golden and bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Best Beet Salad
3 cups Beets, cooked and diced
½ cup Goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup Pumpkin seeds
Parsley, finely chopped, flat leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic glaze, to taste
In a serving bowl, combine beets, feta, pumpkin seeds, parsley, salt and pepper and olive oil. Gently toss to mix well. Drizzle the balsamic glaze on top, and serve cold.
Blueberry & Hammy Jammy Sammy
3-4 oz fresh Blueberries
4-6 oz Brie cheese, softened slightly
3-4 Romaine lettuce leaves
4 oz Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
1 French baguette or Ciabatta bread, lightly toasted if desired
Cut the baguette in half, lengthwise and toast the bread lightly in the oven, about 10 minutes. Gently heat the brie cheese in the microwave, just about 15 seconds, until soft and spreadable. Spread the soft brie on both halves of the baguette. On the top half of the baguette, press fresh blueberries into the brie cheese. On the bottom half of the baguette, press the ham gently into the brie cheese. Lay the romaine leaves on top of the ham. Bring both halves of the baguette together and slice into pieces for serving
Blueberry Sorbet with Whipped Cream
½ cup plus 1 tsp Sugar
¼ cup Water
2½ cups fresh Blueberries
1 pint Vanilla ice cream
½ cup fresh Blueberries,
Honey, for garnish
For the sorbet: Make a sugar syrup as follows: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Transfer the sugar syrup to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled completely. Place the blueberries and the chilled sugar syrup in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
For serving: Add a large scoop of the blueberry sorbet, pile on the ice cream. Garnish with more fresh blueberries, then drizzle with honey.
Leslie Rohland, owner of the Cottage Cafe, Bakery and Tea Room in Old Town Bluffton, is an award-winning recipe creator who is known for her delicious and ever-changing menu at her extraordinary restaurant. She is also the owner of the popular healthy eatery The Juice Hive and the micro-roastery May River Coffee Roasters. For more information about The Cottage Cafe, visit www.thecottagebluffton.com or call 843-757-0508.