Fried & Griddled Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes are as deeply rooted in Southern culture as a field of kudzu. I have a confession. I am not a huge fan of Fried Green Tomatoes, the vegetable. (I love the movie!) Fried Green Tomatoes served piping hot and fresh out of the skillet can be pretty good. But, usually, sadly they always seem to be soggy, greasy, and dull, best suited as a delivery device for rémoulade (old school) or goat cheese (new school). Ha! Are you ready to take away my “Southerner” card? Well, read on…you won’t believe it. (more…)

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Farmer’s Market Summer Tomatoes

Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are only ever good in summer. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, winey, flavor of a vine ripe tomato – as there is nothing as disappointing as the dull, insipid, lifeless flavor of a cold storage tomato shipped from halfway around the world. I don’t eat those and strongly suggest that you don’t either. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible. (more…)

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Plant Forward BBQ: Sweet Heat Pulled Butternut Squash

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Wait, what? I can hear folks now. Vegetarian BBQ? Has she lost her mind? Yes! Well, it’s not a pit-cooked pig, that’s for sure, but hear me out. Barbecue is a solemn and serious business. There is perhaps nothing in the realm of Southern food that stirs deeper emotions. It’s veritably a religion in the South — and so is Southern hospitality. At my table, everyone is welcome and we need to include vegans and vegetarians, too! (more…)

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How to Plan the Safe and Perfect Picnic

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As a kid, my Southern summers were spent fishing at our family pond and swimming in the ocean, pool, or lake and catching fireflies with my sister after dark. And, more than anything, summer meant dining outside. On the weekends, a mixture of friends and family would get together with coolers and wooden picnic baskets, laden with food. This year picnics are certain to be different, so check out my tips on how to plan a safe and perfect outing. (more…)

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Butternut Squash and Ground Turkey Gratin

 

Butternut Squash and Turkey Gratin on www.virginiawillis.com

Butternut Squash is one of my favorite winter vegetables. I treat them as a multi-purpose vegetable “roast.”  It’s actually rare that I cook an entire one at once or halved. Instead, I separate the long thick end of the squash where it meets the spherical orb into two pieces. The longer neck is cooked for one meal or dish and the seed end is cooked for another.

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Cooking with Virginia: How to Cook Dried Beans

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Beans in some way, shape, or fashion are fundamental in many cuisines. Healthy and economical, they are a go-to in my kitchen. I’ll often cook a pound at the beginning of the week and reheat them over the next few days as a warm side dish, toss cold into a salad, or cook further for soup. They’re also a great protein for a healthy breakfast with an egg atop a tortilla. Knowing how to cook beans gives you enormous maneuverability in the kitchen. This handy culinary skill helps with meal prep and gives you the ability to magically produce multiple meals out of a humble bag. 
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What’s in Season: Winter Squash

Wintery mix and snowy weather call for comforting foods like this Winter Greens and Butternut Squash Gratin. This cozy casserole is great as a side dish or filling enough for a plant-based main course. Winter squash are earthy, creamy, and rich – the definition of a satisfying supper. Continue reading for information on how to tell the difference between the varieties — from pumpkin and butternut to acorn —  how to clean, cut, and store, and a collection of great recipes. (more…)

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New Year’s Food Traditions: Peas and Greens

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Eating Hoppin’ John, a dish made of peas and rice, with greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day is a Southern tradition. Folklore says the combination of eating peas and greens will bring luck and money in the upcoming year. Typically, the dried peas are black-eyed peas and there is generally a hunk of meat bobbing in the pot. In my family, we traditionally don’t mix the peas and rice, but cook them separately. And, while my mother and grandmother typically cooked their peas and greens with meat, I often keep my New Year’s Day feast vegetarian! (more…)

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What’s in Season: Savory Eggplant Dip

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Eggplant flourishes in the scorching heat of a Deep South summer. My grandparents grew row upon row of the stately bushes, heavily laden with the shiny black-purple orbs. The plants are absolutely majestic in the vegetable garden with their luscious, draped, fanlike leaves and vibrant colors. My grandmother seemed to only ever fry eggplant. She peeled, then dusted thick ivory eggplant steaks, peppered with an abundance of seeds in seasoned finely ground cornmeal. They were then pan-fried in a bath of sizzling hot oil in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and crisp. (more…)

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What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes
Creamed Corn with Bacon

What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes

corn recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

It’s high corn season! And, this summer vegetable is so versatile we’re having it nearly every meal. From sides and appetizers to entrées and desserts, it can be a part of a sweet or savory dish. To  take advantage of summer’s sweet corn while at its peak, I’ve rounded up all of my favorite recipes in one place. Check out these top ten delicious recipes. (more…)

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