Frances Dietz clearly has never met a vegetable she didn't like, and couldn't turn into something everyone else thinks is delicious, too.
The York resident is the first person ever to win two first-place prizes in two categories in one year in the Pennsylvania "Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious" Vegetable Recipe Contest Cook-Off. Her recipe for Asian Cucumber Salad took top honors in the Melon/Cucumber category, and she also squashed the competition in the Squash/Zucchini category with her recipe for Zucchini and Chickpea Salad. The veteran contestant has won three other first-place prizes in three previous contests.
Other winners in the ninth annual contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program include first-time finalist Mary-Ellen Miller of Orwigsburg, who took top honors in the Tomatoes/Pepper/Eggplant category for her colorful Garden Gate Chunky Greek Salad. Teresa DeVono of Red Lion, a contest winner in 2008, topped the Winter Squash/Pumpkin category with her Snappy Pumpkin Custard Cups. The recipe earned the competition's highest score, garnering 37 out of a possible 40 points.
Judges chose the finalist recipes from 82 entries submitted by 40 cooks from across the state. They were scored on creativity, nutrition/healthfulness, ease of preparation and overall appeal. All the winners were awarded $100 prizes by state Secretary of Agriculture George Greig on Aug. 3, when four finalists in each category met for a cook-off at Harrisburg Area Community College.
All of the finalist recipes, along with recipes from years past, are available on the PVMRP's website, www.paveggies.org, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: PA Vegetable Marketing and Research Program, 815 Middle Road, Richfield, PA 17086.
Here's Ms. Dietz's winning recipe in the Melon/Cucumber category. Look for other first-place winners in future sections.
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 gourmet seedless cucumber, thinly sliced, not pared
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 6 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 8 ounces lump crabmeat or cooked and peeled shrimp, optional
Make dressing by combining the rice vinegar, ginger root, salt, pepper, honey, and sesame oil. Add the cucumber, green onions and radishes. Toss ingredients and allow to stand in refrigerator 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Divide salad among bowls and garnish each with toasted sesame seeds. NOTE: If using crab or shrimp, it should be added to salad just before serving.
-- Frances Dietz, York, Pa.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1419.