Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Be Safe with Food - Basic Sanitation and How to Avoid Cross-Contamination- Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is good information for anyone and especially good to teach your children as they begin learning their way around your kitchen. Even when a food preparer is trying to be safe and sanitary, a small lapse in judgment can make lots of people very sick.

Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

  • Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

  • Wash your hands after playing with pets or visiting petting zoos.

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

  • Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.

  • Keep books, backpacks or shopping bags off the kitchen table or counters where food is prepared or served.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

  • Always start with a clean scene ― wash hands with warm water and soap.  Wash cutting boards, dishes, counter tops, and utensils with hot soapy water.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in your refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Use a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

If you have any additional suggestions to share with our readers that will help assure that they keep a safe and sanitary kitchen, please share them here.

Is grilling often a hit or miss venture for you?- Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If so, don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to keep learning. There's no question that messing up a meal because the meat gets over- or undercooked can be costly and disappointing, but most grilling errors are caused by lack of basic grilling principles, something that can easily be remedied. There is too much to cover in one newsletter, so in the future I’ll explain the difference between direct and indirect grilling and when to use each. For today, let’s start with 25 simple, easy to follow DO’S & DON’TS.

  • DO clean out the ash catcher beneath charcoal before lighting. This allows proper air circulation from bottom vents giving you even and consistent heat levels.

  • DO heat up the grill and then clean off old burnt-on foods with a steel brush or wadded up ball of aluminum foil to prep the grill, and then brush it with vegetable oil to help prevent food from sticking.

  • DO get the meat or fish out of the fridge a good two to three hours before putting it on the grill. You don’t want it cold on the inside.

  • DO give your grill time to get to the ideal heat before placing food on it to cook. If you are using a gas grill, pre-heat it with the cover closed for 10 minutes before putting meat on. If you are working with a charcoal fire, allow the coals to get almost completely grey and ashy on their surface.

  • DON'T Skimp on the charcoal. A hot fire is crucial to good grilling. And remember, whatever coals are left over will make you a hero with the kids when you bring out the marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars to make s’mores for dessert.

  • DO Set up zones of varying heat. When using a charcoal grill, bank the coals one side so they slope downward toward the center. This will give you one zone of the grill that is very hot (for “direct heat” cooking) and the other zone can be used for slower cooking (or “indirect heat” cooking).

  • DO marinate meats to tenderize them. This is especially true for your more economical cuts of beef like chuck steak and round steak, and for chicken or pork it adds flavor and helps prevent dried out meat.

  • DON'T press down on burgers or meats while they're on the grill. Tempting as this may seem, it is very counterproductive. This releases juices and will dry out the food. It may also cause flare-ups.

  • DON'T cover the grill when cooking directly over the coals. Experts call this the #1 grilling mistake. When fat drippings hit those hot coals, they turn into puffs of bad-tasting smoke. When the grill is covered, that smoke gives your food bad-tasting flavor.

  • DON'T squirt water on flare-ups. Those spray bottles stir up ash, and it will land all over your lamb chops. You can’t prevent flare-ups, but you can control them; just move your food to the cool part of the grill until the flames calm.

  • DO trim fat from meat before cooking. You should never find an excessive amount of fat on any meat that we cut and package at our store, but use your judgement. If you do find some fat that you don’t feel will be desirable to eat, cut it off to help avoid fat drippings that can flare up and burn the meat or the cook.

  • DON'T use a fork to turn over foods on the grill. Use tongs, which will not pierce the food and release the juices. Save the fork for serving and carving.

  • DON'T forget that you are dealing with a direct and open flame and that wood will ignite and burn. Either use metal skewers which help conduct heat, or if you really prefer wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to use.

  • DO put sweet basting like honey, molasses or BBQ sauce items on the food, but only during the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking so they don't char.

  • DON'T leave the grill unattended. Food can flare up and burn quickly. This is not good for the food and a real safety hazard if young children get curious and too close to the grill. Try to prepare as much of your meal in advance so that you can carefully watch the grill.

  • DON'T try to cook too many different things. It is just too complicated. Getting the timing and heat right for an assortment of burgers, sausages, chicken thighs, and lamb chops is just too much stress, and way too much chance for problems

  • DO Bring on the seasoning. Grilled foods can stand up to bold flavors, so be liberal with the salt, load on the garlic, amp up the chiles, and squeeze out that lemon. Try a spiced mint marinade for lamb, a Cherry Cola glaze for ribs, or a spicy-sweet brine for chicken.

  • DON'T char you meat. Some cooks like the crispy charred bits of meat but this isn’t at all healthy. Without getting all technical, two potentially cancer causing chemicals are produced when meats are charred, especially over an open flame.

  • DO consider precooking meat items. Par-boiling brats and ribs cuts down on cooking time, helps seal in moisture and reduced risk of carcinogens. The microwave will do the same for chicken and beef satays.

  • DON'T be afraid to use a meat thermometer. It is your friend and one of your best used tools. Not only will it assure that each cut of meat is cooked to its proper temperature for food safety, but it will assure maximum flavor and juiciness.

  • DON'T cut into your food to test doneness. This lets those yummy juices escape. Instead, look at your food (it should be golden brown), touch it, again, use an instant-read thermometer.

  • DON'T clean the barbecue after use. Leave the fat on the grill: it will prevent rust forming. Next time you use the grill, wait until its good and hot and then rub off the charred debris with a coarse wire brush.

  • DO let it rest. Give your meat time to rest once you remove it from the grill. The meat will lose less juice when you cut it and when you eat it the meat will be juicier and tastier. The time taken to rest will depend on its size of the cut. A roast is best rested for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. Steaks or chops should stand for 5 minutes (but no less than 3) before serving.

  • DON'T worry so much. Grab a beer (just not too many, at least until the grilling is done), turn up the tunes, and have a delicious July 4th cookout.

So there you have it, nothing difficult... But when you think about it, most weekend BBQ Warriors, if they were honest, would admit that they have done the opposite to what is recommended in the past, or were completely unaware of at least half of these "rules of the road" for grilling.

 

Chris Tope – Prisco’s Meat Manager

 

The Neighborhood Lemonade Stand- Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The summertime lemonade stand is practically a tradition for children growing up in the U.S. In fact, the idea has been around, essentially unchanged, for over a century...and for good reason.

In addition to being a fun and engaging way to spend a fine day, setting up a lemonade stand is great way to teach kids a little bit about business and the worth of money. It also puts them in a position of learning how to interact with other people in a courteous and friendly manner, which is an extremely valuable lesson. Most importantly, giving kids the opportunity to earn their own money through entrepreneurship is a wonderful way to build self-esteem and confidence.

So, next time your child asks you for money this summer, why not suggest they open a lemonade stand? If they seem interested, present them with the following guidelines to help them get started:

(...info adapted from an article on wikihow...)

____________

  • Make sure you have plenty of ingredients! Having lots of lemons and/or lemonade powder, water, ice, and sugar (if making fresh lemonade) is essential. You don't want to run out while you have customers waiting!

  • Check city or state laws before opening up a stand; you will need your parents' help for this. Some areas require a permit. (Prosecutions of lemonade stand operations are extremely rare, but it's better to be safe than sorry!)

  • Get a stand. Card tables are the easiest to obtain, but you can also assemble your own if you have a parent to help. To attract more customers, use a pretty (but not distracting) tablecloth. Bright colors will get people to look at your table and consider whether or not they want to buy something.

  • Location is key. Make sure you are in a public place with high traffic. When cars pass by raise your hands -- you're more likely to get noticed.

  • Vary your products! Instead of just plain lemonade, offer pink lemonade, too. Maybe purchase or bake some cookies to offer as a snack along with the beverages.

  • Pay special attention to pricing. Often, lemonade stands are either under- or over-priced, and the kids running them don't earn much money. Think of what you would pay for your item(s). If you are selling pink lemonade, what would you be willing to pay for a glass?

  • Advertise. A simple flyer can get you a steady flow of customers. Post signs around your area. Be sure to have signs on your stand as well, showing what you are selling and the price(s).

  • Take turns. Have someone assist you so you can take turns doing different jobs. It's also more fun to have someone else there, especially when you need a break. If you are planning a long day of selling, set up shifts so that no one has to be on duty more than two hours without some time off.

  • Be polite! Potential customers won't want to buy anything if you get irritated with them. If they have kids, talk to them, or compliment their bike, clothes, hair, toy: something that they have with or on them. If there are just adults, smile, act happy and bubbly and just be yourself.

  • Health & Safety Last and most importantly, keep your stand clean. Have napkins on hand, pre-cut any baked items you have, don't cough or sneeze on the food/drinks, etc. Have a bottle of hand-sanitizer or a box of sanitizing wipes on the table so that customers know that you are clean and free of germs.

 

Fresh Summer Cherries – sweet or tart, they are a big part of any summer feast.- Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We all remember mom and dad watching us like hawks, making certain we ate a balanced meal -- especially eating ample portions of fruits and vegetables. It certainly happened at our home regularly, but little did I realize at the time that I’d earn my living and support my family selling fresh produce. This is the time of year that I enjoy most at the store because every week our list of available items increases, and each week you can clearly see the improvements in quality as each crop comes deeper into its seasonal peak.

I thought I'd spend a little time today giving a deeper insight into one of the summer fruits that we all love and perhaps take for granted at times, cherries. Hopefully this will spur you on to take full advantage to maximize your enjoyment of cherries when they are at their most abundant.

Cherries are harvested when ripe; they do not ripen significantly off the tree. Their season runs from late May to very early August, peaking in June and early July. When buying sweet cherries, make sure they are large, plump, smooth and dark colored. The darker the cherry, the sweeter its flavor. Cherries with the stems attached are desirable; once the stem is removed, the cherries spoil more rapidly.

Whenever possible, substitute fresh sweet or sour cherries for canned. A pound of fresh cherries can replace a 1-pound can of sour cherries. Once they have been pitted, fresh cherries will yield the same 2 cups that the can holds.

I’ll start with one of the best known to Prisco shoppers:

  • Bing cherries - characterized by crimson juice that makes a bold color statement. The Bing cherry is considered the benchmark standard of all cherries and it is the most cultivated variety of sweet cherries in the world. It is a grafted offspring of the now obscure heirloom Black Republican cherry, which mainly serves as a pollinator for other cherry varieties. Its surface is smooth and rounded, with a lustered deep red finish. The fruit's flavor is rich and concentrated with overt sweetness balanced by a touch of tang. Its flesh is firmly textured and juicy when ripe.

    Bing cherries are best suited for fresh eating, canning or freezing. Their confectionary sweetness makes them a quintessential dessert ingredient during the summer months. Complimentary sweet pairings include vanilla, nutmeg, hazelnut, cinnamon, peaches, bramble berries, cream, marzipan, white and dark chocolate, and powdered sugar. Savory pairings include almonds, apricots, citrus, herbs such as arugula, basil and cilantro, pineapple, pork, scallops, duck, grilled fish, wine reductions, nut oils, mild creamy cheeses such as burrata and mascarpone, fennel and figs.

  • Red tart or sour cherries - if you have ever vacationed in Door County Wisconsin or Northern Michigan, you no doubt have had lots of exposure to the Bing cherries tart cousin, enjoying them in homemade pies, preserves, or other yummy baked goods. Although not recommended for eating out of the bag like Bings, these tart cherries are ideal for baking when mixed with a bit of sugar. Turns out, the tart taste is an indication of the amount of anthocyanins inside. These flavonoid compounds are behind the sourness, intense red color and potential health-promoting properties, like reducing muscle soreness after exercise, easing arthritis pain and enhancing heart health. They may even help you sleep better at night because they contain melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates our sleep cycle.

  • Rainier Cherries - Rainier cherries originated as a cross between the Bing and Van cherry varieties. The combination of these two red cherries produced a golden yellow cherry with a red blush and incredibly sweet flavor. Rainier cherries were named after Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington. Growing season for Rainiers is extremely short so when you see them available be certain to pick some up.

 

So don’t forget, fresh cherry season is short so enjoy the most of them while you can.

 

Bill Vella – Produce manager

Tags :  cherries
Thanks Dad!- Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This year my son-in-law Kevin gets to celebrate Father’s Day for the first time as a dad, and that means I’m celebrating it for the first time as a Grandpa. Thinking about that and reflecting on all that my own father Tony has meant to me, I took a stab at putting together a list of what most people would agree are the key attributes of being a good father.

Things our Dad’s taught us that we can thank them for:

  • Self esteem and determination
    It is most often our dad who teaches us to stand up for and to believe in ourselves and our dreams. He went out of his way to inspire us to never give up and to muster the strength to face our fears with courage.

  • Learn from your mistakes
    Of course, things don’t always work as planned, but our Dads don’t let us wallow in self pity when we fail. They explain that the only way to learn is to try and if we never fail we aren’t trying hard enough. Being down to earth helps us to own our mistakes, and to take responsibility. Dads often remind us that excellence, and not perfection, is our goal.

  • Be dependable
    Good fathers can be counted on to be there for their family through thick and thin. “Any fool can be a Father, but it takes a real man to be a Daddy.” ~ Philip Whitmore, Sr.

  • Dads are involved in our lives
    They get personally involved in our lives. They know our interests, our dreams, our fears, and our shortcomings. They can be great cheerleaders., and are often president of our fan club. Compassionate. They show compassion, hope and belief when a child most needs encouragement.

  • Valuing of mother
    Good fathers respect and love our mothers and work with her as an equal partner in helping our family thrive.

  • Dads are the ultimate disciplinarian in our lives
    They clearly communicate what is expected of us and uphold the rules. They are tough but fair, and dole out discipline when needed without belittling or controlling.

  • Dads teach us that honesty is always the best policy
    The best way that a father can do this is through example. When you see your dad stand up for what is right and avoid bending the rules for his convenience, it’s a great lesson that is very hard to ignore when faced by temptation in the future.

  • Don’t take everything so seriously
    The best dads know that there is a time for work but also a time for play, and letting your hair down while just having some good clean fun. Dads delight in their children and love to play with them and have fun together.

  • Don’t be afraid of a little work
    On the flip side, good fathers model the value of good work habits. Although they may not always enjoy their work they don’t shirk their responsibilities and they show us that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

  • Dad’s aren’t afraid of their emotions and know just when to show them
    The best dad’s never keep us wondering how they feel. They love us, they care about us, and they let us know how they feel about us whenever we need to hear it.

Don’t miss the chance to tell your dad just what he means to you this Father’s Day. He deserves it -- and he will appreciate it.

 

Rob Prisco

 

Watermelon: The all-natural summer refresher- Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When asked about their favorite summer foods, or to list the food items they tend to associate with summer whether they are particularly enamored with them or not, watermelon is often at the top of peoples' lists – right alongside corn-on-the-cob, grilled foods and barbecue. 

Watermelon has long been a staple of summer picnics, cookouts, and parties. It's convenient (i.e.: portable); it's super-hydrating, which is especially useful on hot days; it's flavorful and sweet as well as healthy, so it appeals to just about everybody; it's also easy to prepare -- just slice and serve, no need for utensils or dishes. On top of all that, watermelon is just plain fun to consume, especially for kids...After all, it's not often they can get away with just using their hands when eating.

Some fun facts

  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  • By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  • The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.

The popularity of watermelon is well deserved. There are tons of nutritional reasons why you should include (or continue to include) it in your diet – not just during the summer, but year-round. Watermelon averages 40% more of the cancer-fighter lycopene per serving than tomatoes. Lycopene in watermelon is easily absorbed without cooking, unlike that in tomatoes, and is relatively stable when the fruit is stored and refrigerated. A 1-cup serving of watermelon also provides 10% of the daily value for vitamin A, 12% of the daily value for vitamin C, along with vitamin B6, beta carotene, thiamin and potassium—all for just 46 calories.

Picking the perfect watermelon

  • Watermelon should be firm and symmetrical, without bruises, cuts or dents. Never buy a watermelon that has soft or squishy areas.
  • It should feel heavy for its size

How to store watermelon

  • Wash watermelons in clean, running water and dry before eating to remove surface dirt.
  • When purchasing cut watermelon, wash and dry the rind of the watermelon.
  • Watermelon temperature should be maintained – if it is purchased at room temperature, it should be stored at room temperature. If the melon was refrigerated at the supermarket, do so at home as well.
  • Cut melon should be refrigerated immediately either in a covered container or with cut surfaces covered with plastic wrap.

Watermelon recipes

You don't have to eat watermelon on its own, either. There are plenty of different ways to prepare it, so don't limit yourself to simple slices. Try titillating your palate with these delicious and refreshing recipes:

Frosted Watermelon

Breakfast Lasagna

Grilled Chicken, Boursin, and 

Watermelon Sandwich

Minced Pork and Watermelon 

Lettuce Wraps

Kung Pao Watermelon Shrimp

Watermelon Almond Tart

Peanut & other nut butters- Monday, June 8, 2015

Info courtesy of everydayhealth.com & care2.com]

There aren’t many people for whom peanut butter is a foreign food. Most of us grew up consuming peanut butter on a regular basis. Even now, the old elementary school lunchtime standby of peanut butter and jelly (sandwiches) remains popular among parents when it comes to feeding their children, and PB&J is one of the most cited nostalgia foods for adults. Why? Well, the majority of folks simply like the taste: Peanut butter is thick, rich, and somewhat sweet. It’s practically a dessert, but healthier for you than loads of candy bars or potato chips, and, while we may not have known this as kids, it’s packed with protein and fiber, so it did a great job of filling our bellies… And kept us feeling full until we got home.

These days, there’s more to nut butters than just peanuts, however. Peanut butter, while great in its own way, is not ideal in every respect. Although most nuts and seeds share similar qualities, each boasts its own nutritional perks - from fat-burning potential to (purported) cancer protection - that become concentrated when the nuts are ground into butters. “They contain protein, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants, and are naturally low in carbs,” says Leonard Ram, MD, author of the Ram Nut Diet (Ram Nutrition, 2005).

Common nut butters

Peanut butter - Even though 3 million adults are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or both, peanut butter is still the most popular spread at the store, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports. That said, peanut butter lovers should think about trading in the traditional stuff for a natural mix that's free of hydrogenated oil, preservatives, and extra sugar. When it comes to peanut butter, the goal is to maximize nutrition and avoid unhealthy additives.

Almond butter - Of all the nut butters, almond butter is the best bet for your diet, overall. It has peanut butter's same creamy texture while packing about 3 grams more of heart healthy monounsaturated fat per serving. Plus, it's typically lower in sugar than peanut butter and free of hydrogenated oil. Once Again almond butter is one of the many healthy brands to choose from, but it takes top honors here because it has only one ingredient: roasted almonds.

Walnut butter - Walnuts are perhaps the best vegetarian source of the omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for total-body health. Although walnut butter is slightly lower in protein and slightly higher in fat than other nut butters, it's a great choice because of its omega-3s. This nut butter is not commonly found in grocery stores - you’ll have to shop for it at your local health food store or order online. Alternatively, you could whip up your own at home using a blender or food processor.

Cashew butter - Cashew nut butter isn't always the best choice for your diet - it is a bit lower in fat and protein and perhaps slightly higher in sugar than peanut or almond butter - but it can still be a healthy snack option, particularly if you are avoiding legumes. Cashews are another nut that you can turn into butter yourself using a food processor. If you love macadamia nuts, you can also buy or make macadamia-cashew nut butter - but be warned that it has more fat and calories and less protein in the same 2-tablespoon serving.

We are Getting Creative!- Monday, June 8, 2015

In my first shout-out, I described how I got started in the grocery retail industry, and how I was able to stumble along a path to this wonderful opportunity. One subject I didn’t touch on that really drives me on a day-to-day basis, is the unique creativity that food and drink bring to the table.

I’ve been experimenting with food and drink ever since I started working at Prisco’s, and even before as a young kid. I had to get creative when I was a kid because I didn’t like the crust on a grilled cheese, so I found that dipping it in ketchup was a tasty treat (a good trick to know if you want your kids to start eating the crust on bread).  One day at school I was tired of ham sandwiches, so I added potato chips for a delicious crunch. It’s not the healthiest, I know, but still a guilty pleasure of mine, and for an adult adaptation, I’ve graduated to using flavored Kettle chips like Maple Bacon, Honey Mustard, or Sriracha.

10 years ago when I was working as a dishwasher in the deli, Todd, a slicer at the time, and I created “The Greatest Sandwich in the World.” It has 5 meats, 3 cheeses, oil, vinegar, spices, tomato, pepperoncini, and mushrooms. I could tell you the meats and cheeses, but then I’d have to kill you. I’ve had some fun with fruits and veggies, including portabella mushrooms wrapped with chives, brushed with sun-dried tomato olive oil, and then grilled to perfection. One of the best salads I’ve made was with spinach, arugula, crumbled goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, mandarin oranges, and topped with a poppy seed dressing (and as I write this, I’m thinking a cranberry or raspberry vinaigrette would be equally as delicious). I hope that you can see by these three illustrations that experimenting with food can be as simple as a spice addition, or as complex as combining different types of foods for a more layered recipe.

After experiencing craft beer for a while, I found creativity in the creation and combination of beer and other food or beverages.  For instance, Bill, Scott, Jesse and myself like the taste of Moody Tongue’s Lemon Saison, but felt it wasn’t as intense when mixed with a Pinot Grigio. Experimenting with different types of food and beer led to experimentation with beer as a component in recipes. And that was when Margaret and I developed the Delirium Tremens Beer Brat. We have since decided to play with different beers and wines in sausages: Chris and I have now created the Atomic Beer Brat (brat made with Atomium Grand Cru) and our new Mediterranean Sausage. Our Mediterranean Sausage isn’t your run of the mill sausage, though. We started with our chicken bratwurst recipe, added spinach and feta, spiced it with a Moroccan blend, and splashed it with Villa Sonia Pinot Grigio.

I continually hear your stories of food experimentation and love to continue to hear of exciting recipes and trials. In our world, food is fun, and we want you to experience that when you visit us. Keep your eyes peeled for fun experiments throughout the store!

 


Andy Guzaskas

Vegetarians and Barbecue - How to make everyone feel welcome- Tuesday, June 2, 2015

There's nothing quite like planning for a summer barbecue event. Selecting the types of meats to serve and sauces to feature is one of the most enjoyable elements, especially when it comes time to dig in! From savory and saucy ribs and chops, to steaks, roasts and whole or partial chickens, there's an abundance of options available, and more than enough variety to satisfy your appetite and that of your guests.

However, chances are pretty good that at least a few of your guests will be on a strict, no-meat diet. So how to you plan for such a contingency? It's actually not that difficult, and you don't need to feel pressured to provide your vegetarian friends with exactly the same number of main course options as you have meat options. Most of the time it's OK to serve two or three vegetarian-friendly dishes, which can also serve as sides or supplementary courses for everyone else. The key here is ensure no one is left out when it comes time to sit down and enjoy the meal, and that everyone has a few dishes to choose from.

Tips for the non-vegetarian

  • Don't contaminate the grill or prep area - Respect the tastes ad needs of your non vegetarian guests. Don't think that the juices from that delicious beef burger will enhance the enjoyment of their mushroom burger. Either have two grills going or clean any remnants of meat off the food preparation and grill surface and wash your hands and tools before working on the non meat entrees. Do not serve your vegetarian food on the same plate as meat.

  • Have a wide assortment of vegetarian options but don't make it sound like a big deal. Vegetarian or not all your quests can enjoy a wide selection of meatless items to accompany their chicken, beef, pork or fish Some options include: vegetable kabobs, grilled corn, grilled asparagus, grilled portabella mushrooms, pasta salad, potato salad, fresh fruit, and veggies with dip.

  • Don't sneak in the meat - sometimes it's hard for us meat eaters to remember everything that might be offensive or unwanted by a vegetarian or vegan. You may think using chicken stock is fine since it makes things tasty and there are no chunks of meat in it. Vegetarians would not agree. If there is meat in something and it isn't obvious, let your vegetarian guest know. A better idea is to just use vegetable stock so the dish is vegetarian friendly.

  • Dealing with the unexpected - It happens to everyone, you have unexpected company and meal time approaches so you invite your guest to stay for lunch or dinner. They politely turn you down saying that they need to care of something and can't stay and you insist that chores can wait, we seldom get to visit and that you have plenty of ground beef to make an extra burger or two. Rather than be rude the guest explains that they don't eat meat....pregnant pause.... then you come to your senses and reply, No problem, we have plenty of meatless options. Grab a bagged salad, berries, and nuts. All of those items can be set out without any preparation, and will be enough to make sure your vegetarian guest does not starve.

Here are a few great veggie grilling recipes that will surely please all of your friends:

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Combining fire-roasted vegetables with lightly toasted focaccia bread turns a crowd-pleasing dish into a Mediterranean-style classic.

Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes

The marriage of Southern comfort food laced with smoky Latin condiments is the perfect complement to grilled vegetable sandwiches and cold beers.

Grilled Stuffed Red Peppers

Grilled red peppers filled with fire-roasted vegetables answers the age-old question of what to do with leftovers. Re-grilling adds depth and flavor to already delicious ingredients.

Portobello Bugers

Make extra of this tasty burger as even any of your non-vegetarian guests will be licking their chops for one.

It’s a great time to enjoy your grill... How about some delicious grilled asparagus or pineapple?- Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This week I would like to introduce our customers to a great summertime treat that many people miss out on because they simply haven’t been exposed to it. I don’t want to take anything away from Prisco’s great fresh meat department, and there is no question that outdoor grilling is a time when that department really shines, but there are more things worth grilling than just meat. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the great taste of grilled fruits and vegetables, all part of a well balanced summer diet. Grilling gives fruits and veggies a smoky-sweet flavor, and it's amazingly easy. 

Here are a few tips that you will find helpful when considering what and how to grill fresh produce:

  • To avoid messy grilling, you will want to make use of skewers or a grill basket to prevent small chunks of vegetables from falling through the grate. Using two skewers will help prevent vegetables from spinning while turning on the grill. It’s ok to use bamboo skewers but be certain to soak them in water for 30 or more minutes before using to prevent them from burning.

  • Use a light brushing of oil on vegetables and fruits to prevent sticking. The vegetables must be dry before applying oil or the oil will not stick.

  • Don't peel vegetables before grilling — you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to act as a natural insulator, keeping the steam in and preventing the corn from drying out.

  • Vegetables should be grilled over a medium heat or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn't cooking too quickly.

  • The length of cooking time will vary depending on the type of vegetable and how it has been prepared. When grilling harder vegetables, such as potatoes with other vegetables, they may need to be par-cooked before grilling to ensure that all the vegetables are done at the same time. Vegetables like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.

  • Vegetables should have browned grill marks and be tender when pierced with a fork or the tip of a knife.

  • Cut vegetables into uniform size pieces so they will cook evenly. The larger and thicker the pieces the longer the grilling time.

  • Prevent vegetables from drying out on the grill by soaking them in cold water before cooking.

  • Seasoning the vegetables with a coarse salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt, before grilling will draw out extra moisture from the vegetables, which will intensify its sweetness and flavor.

  • Experiment by sprinkling different herbs and spices over vegetables while grilling.

  • Some veggies (including artichokes, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and winter squash) can be pre-cooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly. To pre-cook: Steam or blanch until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.

  • Ideal grilling fruits are firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, plums and peaches can all take the heat. Soak them in liquor or drizzle with honey before grilling for an added burst of flavor.

  • To enhance the flavor of the fruit, try brushing cut fruits with melted butter and sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, or lemon juice while grilling. Sugar tends to burn so it is best to apply it toward the end of cooking time.

  • Caution, most fruits contain a high level of water which will get extremely hot when grilling. Be certain to allow the fruit to cool slightly after removing it from the grill, or the fruit may cause serious burns to the mouth.

Okay, so much for the do & do not do's. How about some suggestions for great foods to grill.

Eggplant When grilled, eggplant becomes crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside—no breading or cheese necessary. Slice your eggplant in 1-inch thick slices and coat with extra-virgin olive oil. Place on your grill rack, cooking for 6 minutes per side or until eggplant is tender.

Peaches, nectarines or apricots Grilling these summer fruits deepens their natural sweetness, and it’s oh-so-easy to do: simply slice them in half, remove the pits, and put them facedown on a grill that’s been preheated to high. Remove when golden brown, about 5 minutes. Try brushing them with honey, sprinkling them with cinnamon, or topping them with Greek yogurt.

Pineapple Grilling pineapple cuts the fruit’s acidity and turns it into a treat that’s as sweet as candy. Cut your pineapple into wedges or rings and place it on the grill for about 3 minutes per side.

Asparagus Lightly charred asparagus tossed in a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper makes for an incredibly easy and nutritious summer side dish. Place directly on the grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Watermelon Sure we all know how delicious a cold slice of fresh watermelon can taste but grilled watermelon brings a whole new dimension to this fruit. To grill, cut your watermelon into big wedges or 1-inch-thick rounds. Place the fruit on a very hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Tomatoes Add a smoky flavor to pasta dishes and salads by grilling your tomatoes over high heat. Just slice the tomatoes in half, brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place on a grill heated to high for about 3 minutes.

Portobello mushrooms Vegans and vegetarians have discovered that a giant portabella makes a great meatless burger. So go ahead you carnivores. swap out your usual ground-beef patty for a Portobello cap and save on saturated fat and calories. Just brush them lightly with olive oil, place them gill-side down for 4 minutes, and then flip and cook for an additional 7 minutes.

Zucchini This easy to grill vegetable is abundant throughout the summer months. Thinly slice the squash lengthwise, coat lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and place on the grill for about a minute, or until marked and tender.

Carrots If you enjoy oven roasted carrots in the cooler months grilling is a great option for carrots. Peel them and put them on the grill over moderately high heat in a perforated grill pan for about 5 minutes.

Romaine Grilling romaine gives your salad a unique smoky flavor. Preheat your grill to medium-high, lightly oil the grates, and grill the lettuce, turning often, until charred in spots (about 2 minutes).

Corn on the cob You can grill the cobs in their husks or brush them with olive oil and place them directly on the grill. Either way, grilling your corn takes this summer staple to a new level.

Sweet potatoes Make grilled sweet potato fries by first pre-cooking the potatoes in a microwave for about 6 minutes. Then, cut them lengthwise into wedges, drizzle them with olive oil, and transfer them to the grill for 3 minutes per side.

Kale This super food is also adaptable to the grill. Blanche the kale before you grill to tenderize the leaves and prevent it from burning. Grill 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes.

Bananas Give your banana split a summery twist: slice banana in half lengthwise, coat with cooking spray, then grill over medium heat for 2 minutes per side.

I do hope that this will get you thinking about grilling lots of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer. I’d love to hear you comments about the new world grilled produce has opened for you and your family.

 

Bill Vella – Produce Manager