Sweet and colourful tomato summer salad
A recipe bursting with sweet tastes and health benefits
By Bonnie Greene

(NC)—What are colourful, sweet tasting, full of vitamins A and C, provide a boost to your immune system, yet low in calories?

Tomatoes. Not only are they healthy and fresh tasting, but they come in a wide array of colours––from bright red to purple–and they enhance any summertime recipe.

“Of course the best tomatoes are ones you can grow and pick right off your own vine,” says Jeff Howe, Fernlea Flowers president. “Retailers and nurseries will soon have wonderful varieties of seedlings to put in your container or garden. They'll also have a 'six pack' of favourite varieties on offer such as sweet 100, yellow pear, pink lady and celebrity for an instant garden.”

Descriptions of each variety and tips on how to grow them can be found online at www.bonnieplants.ca. Once you've planted your tomato container, complement it with additional containers of vegetables such as peppers and cucumbers and your favourite fresh herbs such as oregano, parsley, sweet basil and mint.

For a tasty, healthy garden to table summer meal, try Bonnie's Best Tomato Salad Recipe:

Baked Fig Pops with Blue Cheese and Candied Almonds
(NC)—Developed for the Almond Board of California by Trish Magwood, author of James Beard award winning cookbook 'dish entertains', and TV host of 'party dish'

Makes 20 hors d'oeuvres

¼ cup (50 mL) white sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) whole almonds
10 fresh figs
1/4 lb (125 g) good–quality blue cheese
3 tbsp (50 mL) honey

Cous cous salad

Preparation time: 30min
Serves 6-8
Allergens: wheat

1 cup cous cous (uncooked)
1 can (540 ml) chick peas
2 cups chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
The juice of 4 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon of salt

Kiwi and Shrimp Salad Rolls

(NC)—Salad rolls are a popular Thai menu item with a California twist that is easy and inexpensive to make at home. This recipe includes a zesty lime dipping sauce that pairs nicely with the kiwi and shrimp, but Thai chili sauce is a good, time saving substitute.

2 tbsp each vegetable oil, rice vinegar, lime juice and honey (30 mL)
2 tsp minced fresh ginger (10 mL)
1 tsp finely grated lime zest (5 mL)
1/2 tsp crushed hot pepper flakes (2 mL)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (1 mL)
24 medium (41/50 count) cooked shrimp, peeled (about 12 oz /375 g) (1 mL)
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage (500 mL)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
8 rice paper wrappers, about 9-inch (23 cm)
4 California Kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1 cup bean sprouts (250 mL)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint or coriander leaves (125 mL)

Lemon Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Makes 12 appetizers

All you need:

• 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
• 1 lb (500 g) ground chicken or pork
• 1 pouch (28 g) Club House Lemon Ginger Beef Stir-fry Flavourful Recipe Mix
• 2½ cups (625 mL) diced mushrooms
• 1 cup (250 mL) each low sodium chicken broth and water
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) each cornstarch and soy sauce
• ½ cup (125 mL) sliced green onions
• 12 lettuce leaves (eg. Iceberg, Boston)

Baked Mushroom Topped Brie

(NC)—Prepare and chill the mushroom topping to have on hand for spur of the moment entertaining. Baking and serving on oven -proof platter keeps the cheese warm while eating.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes – 1 week

½ lb (250 g) fresh sliced mushrooms (white or crimini)
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped onions
¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped walnuts
1 large clove garlic, sliced
½ tsp (2 mL) Each dried thyme, rosemary and pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 (200g) wheel cold Brie cheese
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely minced fresh parsley or chives (optional)

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(NC)—With the cost of food on the rise, there's no better time to start growing your own organic herbs, fruits and vegetables. The best part about incorporating edible items into the garden (aside from the taste and health benefits) is that you don't need to be an avid gardener or have a large garden space to get started.

Herbs and vegetables can easily be grown right in your backyard garden or in containers on your patio or balcony. Certain items such as tomatoes come in a variety of vibrant colours and when mixed in with traditional flowers and plants, make for breathtaking displays.