Fresh and Refreshing... Hits of the Summer

Summer’s here, and it’s time to enjoy the fresh, locally-grown produce of central Illinois.

by Chef Golda Ewalt
Coriander and Cumin Carrots with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Coriander and Cumin Carrots with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Summer’s here, and it’s time to enjoy the fresh, locally-grown produce of central Illinois. Whether you grow your own or visit a farmer’s market, it’s time to take advantage of delicious and healthy produce. The farmer’s markets provide an opportunity to get to know local farmers, and more importantly, experience their passion for growing food and caring for the land. Their offerings change weekly during the growing season—and always create a culinary inspiration to explore new things. 

In the Peoria area we have a variety of farmer’s markets, located along the Peoria riverfront (Saturday mornings), at Metro Centre (daily) and Junction City (Wednesday evenings), and in East Peoria (Friday evenings). In addition, the Peoria RiverFront Market offers live music, art and made-to-order omelets by the Heart of Illinois Professional Chefs Association, and Illinois LINK cards are accepted. 

Here is a recipe using carrots, which can be found at local markets, and roasted with honey, herbs and spices. The sauce that accompanies the carrots pairs nicely with other roasted vegetables as well. And if you buy carrots with their tops intact, the feathery greens can be used in salads and soups or with other cooked vegetables.

Coriander and Cumin Carrots with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Makes 4-6 servings

4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3 large thyme sprigs, leaves removed from stems
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4by 2 1/2 inches
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Tahini Yogurt Sauce

3 tablespoons tahini paste
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
2. Place the honey, oil, coriander, cumin, fresh thyme, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Add the cut carrots and mix well until coated. Spread the carrots out in a single layer on a large baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Stir the carrots every 10 minutes while roasting.
3. While the carrots are roasting, place all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
4. Once the carrots are cooked, place them on a large serving platter or individual plates. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of sauce on top, scattered with the cilantro leaves.

Makes 1 drink

Sgroppino, a traditional Italian cocktail from the Veneto region, can be served as a before-dinner drink or as an amazing drink-dessert. It can also be served as an intermezzo or palate cleanser between seafood and meat courses. This icy, citrusy drink hits the spot during the heat of the summer. Another aspect of this refreshing cocktail is that it can be made ahead of time in a large batch, stored in the freezer, and served as a punch for a party. Salut! 

1.5 ounces vodka
3 ounces prosecco, chilled
1 ounce limoncello
1/3 cup lemon sorbet
Lemon wheel for garnish

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until thoroughly mixed.
2. Serve in a well-chilled coupe or martini glass with a lemon wheel garnish. PM