Small Bites Throwdown! Two Bloggers Compete with Vegetarian Recipes. Which Will Go Home the Winner?

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In the height of summer, farmers markets are brimming with tomatoes, corn and melons. But did you know onions are also seasonal? They’re hardly sweeter or more beautiful than when plucked from the ground on a warm summer day.

The challenge, though, is how to use the bumper crop. Sure, you could slice and sauté as a base for a sauce or soup, or chop into a salsa or bruschetta — or you could cast them in the starring role

Which is the goal of our first Small Bites Throwdown. We challenged two of our food bloggers, JL Fields, below left, and Maria Reina, below right, to create recipes that showcase summer onions from Amawalk Farm in Katonah. Fields created a cucumber-quinoa saladand Reina came up with a chipotle black bean burger. We’re asking you to vote for your favorite.

  

On the Small Bites blog on LoHud.com, you can view videos of Fields, a vegan who writes the “I Eat Plants” posts, and Reina, a personal chef who writes the “Seasonal Chef” blog, preparing their recipes, and cast your vote. Or, you can watch the two bloggers demonstrate their recipes at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the farmers market at John Jay Homestead in Katonah. I will be there to emcee the cooking demo, and we’ll be passing out samples of the competing dishes. Take a taste and cast your vote. We’ll announce the winner Aug. 15.

So why onions? To circumvent the obvious. Anyone can make a zucchini dish taste great in the summer; we wanted to showcase the talents of our creative bloggers. They decided to use two types of onions: cipollini and bunching onions.

Fields, who also writes about her transition to a vegan lifestyle at jlgoesvegan.com, was inspired by her childhood in the rural Midwest.

“We ate vegetables from our garden and almost always had corn on the cob, a stack of tomato slices, and a big bowl of sliced cucumber and onion, soaking in vinegar, water and sugar. And, of course, a piece of meat.”

But as vegans don’t eat meat or animal products, Fields had to adjust. She kept the cucumber salad, but added quinoa.

“I wanted to make a vegan dish that would reflect the familiarity of a summertime favorite and introduce a great way to use an ancient grain, high in protein.”

To even the playing field, Reina, who also blogs at BellaCucinaMaria.com, decided she’d create a vegan recipe, too.

“I knew I wanted to make a burger, and somehow incorporate beets into the recipe,” she says. “Beets are great to work with, but really need something to hold them up. I spotted a can of black beans on the shelf — and I knew that would be the ticket. With just a few other ingredients, all of which I had in the fridge and pantry, the burger was born! The ground chipotle and lime flavors really bring it all home.”

Try the recipes yourself. (Here are the links: Chipotle Black Bean Burger; Cucumber-Quinoa Salad.)Watch the videos on Small Bites. And, if you can, come see — and taste! — our bloggers’ recipes. And be sure to cast your vote in the Small Bites Throwdown.


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About Author

Liz Johnson is the food editor of The Journal News and LoHud.com, for which she's won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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