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About a month ago, I was asked to participate in an opportunity with Del Monte to get a little creative with their canned goods line. Since I am no stranger to a little improvisation in the kitchen, I thought this was a great opportunity to challenge myself just a bit in the kitchen. Along with my push to work a little harder in the kitchen, Del Monte sent a little incentive in the form of canned goods and a gift card to purchase additional items that I might need to host a party showing off my skills.

I will let it be known that my tiny studio apartment, which I now share with BR, is difficult to host parties in but when I take great advantage of small get-togethers at moms house. 

Accepting the “challenge” of cooking with canned goods came easy. Del Monte was a brand I saw a lot of in my mother and grandmothers kitchen; especially since they both make an amazing marinara sauce from “scratch”. Del Monte takes great pride in delivering the same nutritional content in their canned goods as you would get in a fresh product. Fresh IS best, but sometimes, the week gets ahead of you and next thing you know, that huge bag of fresh green beans you got at the farmer’s market is sitting in your fridge turning to a pile of mush. And while I admit that I am now a proud CSA owner, there are times when my fresh produce doesn’t last as long as I need it to. So, sometimes I cheat and take advantage of the convenience of canned goods.

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Del Monte was kind enough to send me an ample supply to sample:

– Green Beans (2)

– Diced Tomatoes (2)

– Whole Kernel Corn (2)

– Pear Halves (2)

– Sliced Peaches (2)

In addition the canned goods, I received a stipend for additional grocery shopping, an apron and can strainers to share.

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The bonus is the prize pack to a lucky commenter below:

Green Beans (1)

Diced Tomatoes (1)

Whole Kernel Corn (1)

Pear Halves (1)

Sliced Peaches (1)

1 Can Strainer

1 Apron

(Details at the end of this post)

To get me started on this project, Del Monte sent along some ideas, which I have also included at the end of this post for your convenience, curiosity or whatever. Using the green beans as an addition to a potato salad, corn in a salsa, peaches in the hummus and even pears in a savory dish- so many uses!

I decided to branch out a bit.

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Pears.

I have always always always loved pear juice. My mother says that I used to drink it a lot as a baby. Opening the can of pears in light syrup brought me back to those days. Ah, the 80’s. But thinking about pears, some of my favorite ways to eat pears involve cheese. After tasting a not so great pear salad, I decided to recreate a pear walnut salad over arugula with blue cheese. The sweetness of the pears with the spiciness of the arugula are a match made in heaven- add to that the creamy texture of blue cheese and the crunchy texture of toasted walnuts, and baby, you have yourself a tasty salad.

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Ingredients: (serves 2)

8 cups of baby arugula

1 can of Del Monte pear halves in light syrup

4 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled

¼ cup of walnuts, crushed

Dressing:

Your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, or a homemade variety. (I whisked some of the pear juice with balsamic vinegar and olive oil- yum)

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Directions:

Drain the pears and save the juice. Slice the pears into thin slices. In a large bowl combine the arugula, blue cheese crumbles, walnuts, and pears. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Obviously not rocket science but in a pinch, a great dish! My next pear project is pear, walnut, blue cheese and arugula PIZZA!

Peaches.

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For these peaches, I kept it simple. I am not a huge fan of canned peaches. There, I said it. The texture is the deal breaker for me. So when I came across the peaches I decided to put them in a sandwich. The result? a pretty interesting grilled cheese.

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Ingredients: Makes 1

2 slices of multigrain bread

2 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 can of Del Monte Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup, drained

handful of arugula

butter

garlic powder

Directions: Assemble the sandwich with cheddar, peaches and arugula. Spread butter on both sides of the sandwich and sprinkle with garlic powder. In a small frying pan, place the sandwich, buttered side down over a medium high heat. Cook on both sides for 3 minutes each.

Placing the sharp cheese and the spicy arugula with the peaches was a slick move on my part. The texture was as if I placed a ripe tomato inside the grilled cheese-I can only imagine that the addition of bacon would be amazing! The cheese was sharp enough to mask the peachy taste but there was a hint of sweetness in it that, in my opinion, worked. But then again, grilled cheese is grilled cheese. Toasty bread and melty cheese- win! Fruit= bonus.

Diced Tomatoes.

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For the diced tomatoes, I decided to try it out by subbing canned tomatoes instead of fresh. The diced tomatoes worked flawlessly in the tomato fondue dish. Simply replacing the fresh tomatoes with Del Monte Diced Tomatoes saved time and was super convenient. Plus, it worked.

Whole Kernel Corn.

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I revisited an old favorite recipe for the corn. Turkey Taco Salad. The original recipe called for fresh corn, but I subbed in a can of Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn and could not taste the difference.

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However, I do love canned corn.  This was a no brainer. And awesome.

Green Beans.

An old reliable. Mom kept canned green beans on hand to add to dinners that were lacking vegetables. Having them plain was just fine when I was 9 but now? They seem plain. I like adding them to salads because they are quick.

While watching a rerun of Chopped, Leyla Ali added peanut butter to her vegetable dish and I thought it was brilliant. And because I love all things Thai, I made a peanut sauce with coconut milk.

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Ingredients:

1 can of light coconut milk

3 T natural creamy peanut butter

splash of fish sauce

a pinch of red pepper flakes

touch of salt

1 can of Del Monte Green Beans, drained

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Directions: In a large skillet, whisk coconut milk together with peanut butter and bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the splash of fish sauce, red pepper flakes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. You may add salt to taste. Drizzle the sauce over warm green beans.

This sauce really worked. So much so that I ate an entire can of green beans covered in this sauce.

But if the above isnt for you, that’s okay. Del Monte has provided their own recipes for you to try.

Marinated Potato and Green Bean Salad

Tomato-Basil Steak Salad

Corn Salsa Bake

Chocolate-Chipper Cake

Peach Ginger Hummus

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So now that the meat and potatoes is out of the way, how about a chance to win a prize pack??? Post a comment below for a chance to win. Enter by Tuesday, June 4, 11:59 PM and I will announce a winner on Wednesday, June 5.

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GOOD LUCK ALL!

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