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Healthy Bites: Well-balanced squash relish is addictive

By Judy Grigoraci

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was introduced to a new West Virginia Grown product at last month's State Fair.

Bonnie Blue's Blue Ribbon Squash Relish was an ingredient in a mystery basket for the Dueling Chef's cooking contest held Aug. 14.

Two competing chefs had to assemble an entrée with sides, not knowing what the basket contained, except they knew the contents were fresh produce from local farmers' markets and fresh or packaged ingredients from the West Virginia Grown Department of Agriculture store.

This year the main protein for the chefs was lamb, a double whammy to them because lamb wasn't listed in what they could expect. It had been generously donated from a West Virginia farm shortly before the cook-off.

Chef Duane Legg, brands manager of U.S. Foodservice, and chef Reed Van Den Berghe, from Stella's restaurant, in Lewisburg, competed. Reed was declared the winner, edging out Legg by just a smidgen.

Squash relish was different for me and is new to the stable of West Virginia Grown products. The chefs used it in a salad.

When I first saw the jar, I thought it was standard pickled cucumbers cut into a very small dice, or even corn relish. It was a surprise to find it was squash and to discover upon taste that it wasn't too sweet (which can reach almost to the point of candied) or too tart, both a downfall of many a pickled veggie and bottled sauce.

The relish's low calories, carbs, sodium and sugars, plus zero fat and cholesterol, makes it attractive as a condiment to choose.

Somewhat addictive, the mixture of cubed squash, peppers and onion could find its way onto a turkey burger or could replace a pickle alongside a sub sandwich on whole wheat. Because the chefs also prepared grilled eggplant, I almost gave you my eggplant pizza with a layer of squash relish.

However, I enjoyed it at home with black bean soup. It goes without saying it would be a great garnish for a bowl of cooked dried beans.

This bean salad serves the purpose of a home for the relish. Balsamic vinaigrette is mentioned, but you could drizzle some of the relish juice over the salad instead as a light dressing.

Italian White Bean Salad

Amount varies.

     Cucumber

     1    15-ounce can cannelloni or great northern beans, rinsed, drained

     Bonnie Blue's Blue Ribbon Squash Relish

     Halved grape tomatoes

     Sliced or diced avocado

     Sunflower kernels or pumpkin seeds

     Crumbled feta or goat cheese

     Chopped fresh basil

     Chopped fresh parsley

     Balsamic vinaigrette (homemade or bottled)

SLICE cucumber thinly and arrange over a dinner plate as a base for the rest of the salad.

TOP with layers of beans, relish, tomatoes, avocado, sunflower kernels, cheese and fresh herbs.   

DRIZZLE with dressing or relish juice and serve.

Reach Judy Grigoraci at jg@suddenlink.net.


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