Bread and Butters

After fininshing long day of gardening, canning and cooking, a question popped into my head: How did bread and butter pickles get their name?

After doing a little searching, I came up with several answers. However, most of them had one thing in common. They said the pickles picked up their name during the Great Depression.

One article said that the sweet crunchy pickles were were a staple because they were cheap, shelf-stable and could become a meal when sandwiched between bread and butter. Another said they got their name because they were as regular a part of a diet as bread and butter. They days, people use the tangy slices as more of a condiment.

Regardless, they are sweet!

For those of you who aren’t aficionados of cucumbers that are canned, there is a difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles. Sweet pickles use cinnamon, cloves and allspice in a vinegar-sugar brine. Bread and butter pickles are made with turmeric. mustard, and onion in a vinegar-sugar brine.

We’ve already put nine pints of bread and butter pickles on the shelf, and I expect to make a couple of dozen more before all is said and done. Also, we’ve canned 11 quarts of dills, and I’m hoping for another 20 or so.

The recipe we use for our bread and butters is from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s very similar to the one my mom and grandma used. For those of you who want to give it a try, here it is.

And yes, they are still good on a slice of bread. And so very tasty on a peanut butter sandwich.

Crisp Pickle Slices
4 quarts sliced, unpared medium cucumbers
6 medium white onions, slices (6 cups)
2 green peppers, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup granulated pickling salt
5 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons turmeric
1½ teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
Combine cucumber, onion, green pepper and whole garlic cloves. Add salt; cover with cracked ice; mix thoroughly. Let stand 3 hours; drain well. Remove garlic. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over cucumber mixture. Bring to boil.
Fill hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace; adjust lids. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling).
Yield: 8 pints.

 

Montana Burgers

Montana burgers have been getting a lot of attention lately. Today, a Bozeman, Mont., restaurant is offering a "Barack Obama Burger" for $10 in honor of the president’s visit to the area.

Ted’s Montana Grill, which is owned by CNN founder Ted Turner (he also owns 51 other restaurants by the same name across the country and has a bison ranch southwest of Bozeman), will be selling the cheeseburger, made with bison meat and three types of cheese (American, Cheddar and Monterey Jack), along with a side of spicy mustard along with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, french fries and a small American flag.

Also, a hamburger that a Eureka, Mont., restaurant owner invented with leftover food is a finalist in the Ultimate Hometown Grill Off sponsored by the TV show "Live! with Regis and Kelly."

James Monroe’s "Bubba Burger," renamed the Eureka Burger because another company uses the Bubba Burger name for its frozen hamburger patties, is a mesquite-fired patty topped with spicy Cajun sausage, jumbo shrimp, chipotle sauce and Cheddar cheese. It’s served in The Cutting Board restaurant in Eureka. I’m not sure if the Eureka Burger uses bison meat, but there’s a good chance it does.

While I don’t have the exact recipes for either of the aforementioned burgers, here’s one for Greek Bison Burgers with Yogurt Sauce, which may suit your fancy.

Greek Bison Burgers with Yogurt Sauce
1 pound ground bison
½ cup cooked chopped spinach, squeezed dry
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¾ cup nonfat or low-fat Greek-style plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
4 French rolls or four 4-inch pieces of baguette, split and toasted
16 thin slices English cucumber
8 slices tomato
4 thin slices red onion
Heat grill to medium-high.
In a large bowl, gently combine the bison, spinach, feta, 2 teaspoons of the dill, oregano, cumin, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Be careful not to overmix. Form into four oval-shaped patties roughly the size of the rolls. Set aside.
To prepare the yogurt sauce, in a small bowl combine the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, remaining teaspoon of dill and the mint. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Oil the grill rack using an oil-soaked folded paper towel held with tongs. Grill the burgers until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the center registers 155 degrees, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.
Assemble the burgers on rolls with the yogurt sauce, cucumber, tomato and onion.
Yield: Serves 4.
Source: March-April issue of EatingWell magazine.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 392 calories, 16 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 68 millgrams cholesterol, 30 grams carbohydrate, 35 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 671 milligrams sodium.

Bring on the Coleslaw

I raise a lot of cabbage. Most of it goes for sauerkraut, which a friend makes and we split. (If you’re looking for some reading material about preserving food, check out Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton’s new book, "Preserved," (Kyle Books, $22.95), which make a good case for their belief that "the history of civilization is the story of our progressive mastery of food preservation.")

It wouldn’t be the truth, though, if I said that was my only use for cabbage. I like it fried, or stuffed with meat and rice or in boiled dinners, among other things.

But I must admit my first love is in coleslaw. In fact, I think when home for lunch today, my first task will be to grab a head of cabbage from the garden and make some coleslaw.

I like coleslaw just about any way it’s made. Therese makes it with an oil and vinegar dressing. I fix it that way sometimes, but usually mine contains some mayo or Miracle Whip. (It’s hard to stray from what your mom made when you were growing up.)

However, I have come across another slaw recipe that has caught my fancy. It’s for a kim chee slaw. I found it in the "Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook," by Rick Rodgers (Wiley, 2007). The author says it’s not as hot and spicy as the traditional Korean dish and suggests that it would be good for a cookout. The recipe follows, as do some others that look interesting.

Kim Chee Slaw
1 (4-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons dark or toasted sesame oil
6 cups (about 1¼ pounds) cored, shredded cabbage
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Salt to taste
Grate the ginger on the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze the grated ginger in your fist over a mixing bowl to yield about 2 tablespoons juice. Add the vinegar, sugar, paprika and red pepper. Whisk in the vegetable and sesame oils.
Mix in the cabbage, green onion and sesame seeds. Season to taste with salt.
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Mustard Slaw
1 small green cabbage, about 2 pounds
1 large carrot, peeled
4 tablespoons yellow mustard
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole celery seeds
Remove tough or damaged outer leaves from cabbage. Quarter cabbage and cut away the inner stalk. Remove thick, tough inner leaves if desired.
Chop cabbage finely to make about 8 cups, using a knife, slicing blade on food processor or large grater. Place in a large mixing bowl. Grate carrot into the cabbage.
Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the cabbage and stir to coat thoroughly.
Let stand 15 minutes and stir again. Taste and add more sugar and salt if needed. Let stand 15 minutes longer and serve, or refrigerate, covered, for 2 or 3 days.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Red Slaw
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ cup ketchup
½ teaspoon kosher salt or slightly less table salt
5 to 6 cups finely chopped cabbage (see note)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Whisk the vinegar, sugar, ketchup, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl. Add the dressing and stir until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate about 1 hour before serving.
Note: Restaurants and large community barbecues usually use a food chopper or mill to chop the cabbage. To replicate it at home, here is a two-step process using a food processor. First, remove the rough outer leaves of a head of green cabbage. Quarter the cabbage, cut away the inner core and pull out some of the thick leaves if desired.
Set up a food processor with a slicing blade. Feed the cabbage quarters through the feed tube to create long shreds. Place in a work bowl.
Change the food processor to the standard metal blade. Working in two batches if necessary, place the shredded cabbage back in the processor and pulse several times until finely chopped. Don’t overprocess or you’ll get mush.
Yield: Serves 8.

Healthy Slaw
1 small green cabbage
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut in thin strips
1 medium carrot, peeled
½ medium sweet onion, cut in thin crescents
¼ cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any damaged or tough outer leaves from cabbage. Cut in quarters and remove tough inner core and the thickest inner leaves. Shred thinly with a knife. Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add green pepper strips.
Shred carrot on the large holes of a box grater. Add to cabbage.
Combine vinegar, honey, ginger, turmeric and celery seed in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Remove from heat and whisk in the oil.
Pour hot dressing over the cabbage and toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours before serving.
Yield: Serves 12.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches

School is just around the corner and with it come thoughts of packing a lunch.

My grandson, Theo, who lives in Cincinnati, will be in first grade this fall, and his mom will be packing his lunch. I don’t know what she’ll be making for him, but one of my favorites for school lunch was a plain old peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

There is not much creativity that goes into making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but don’t tell that to the folks from Jif. They recently announced their 8th Annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest for kids (www.jif.com/promos/pbsandwich10/). They tout it as a way for families to foster creativity in their children and begin saving money for college. One grand prize winner will earn a $25,000 scholarship fund, and four runner-ups will each receive $2,500 scholarship funds.

Jif is accepting entries from kids ages 6 through 12 until Nov. 13. Sandwiches will be judged on the following criteria: creativity, taste, appearance, nutritional balance and ease of preparation.

The winner of last year’s Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest was Jordyn Boyer, 10, of Lebanon, PA, who cooked up a savory mealtime dish, called the "Po’ Boy Peanut Butter Chicken Cheesesteak." Her sandwich paired the peanutty taste of Jif creamy peanut butter with chicken, peppers, onions, apples, mozzarella cheese and featured a one of a kind dipping sauce made with Jif creamy peanut butter, honey, honey mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

I never had anything like that while growing up but did come across the following recipe that probably would quality as "most creative."

Asian Chicken and Peanut Butter Sandwich
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 pita breads, halved
4 leaves leaf curly lettuce
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
½ apple, thinly sliced
Combine peanut butter and teriyaki sauce in small bowl; spread on inside of each pita half.
Stuff each pita with lettuce, cilantro, chicken and apple. For lunch bag, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Keep cool.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 530 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 23 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 1,215 milligrams sodium, 49 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 5 grams fiber.

Garden to Refrigerator

This is a busy time of the year for people with gardens. It’s also one of the most rewarding.

The first couple of weeks of August typically are the best for gardeners. Many of their vegetables are ripening, and canning and freezing are starting to get into full swing. We’ve already been freezing beans and have canned some dill pickles.

But in a week or two, things will really start to get hectic. I’ll have more tomatoes than we can eat and canning juice, whole tomatoes and salsa will begin. Also, there probably will be more beans (the pole variety will have started to produce) and there will be beets to pickle.

But thank God for refrigerator pickle recipes. I have a few of my own, and several readers have passed on their favorites. The latest to do so is Marion Moen, who’s already shared recipes for chow-chow and salsa. Now, she’s given me a refrigerator pickle recipe that makes use of cucumbers, peppers and carrots. She got the recipe from the late Marge Finley of Inkster, N.D., who had lived in Grand Forks until her recent death.

I had the opportunity to meet Marge a couple of times, since she’s the sister of Lois Durkin, also of Inkster. Lois is the mother of a former co-worker and hunting buddy, Jim Durkin. Marge was one of those farm wives who probably had tons of recipes that a lot of us grew up relishing.

So, in Marge’s memory, here’s her refrigerator pickle recipe. I can’t wait to try it myself.

Marge Finley’s Refrigerator Pickles
8 cups sliced cucumbers
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup slice celery
1 green pepper, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped, or chopped carrots
Place vegetables in container and cover with 1½ tablespoons canning salt. Let stand for ½ hour. Drain and rinse.
Mix the following:
2 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
Stir together until sugar is dissolved and pour over drained vegetables. (Since this makes plenty of juice, you can add up to 4 more cups of cucumbers if desired.)

Fresh Tomato Salad

When you’re making that next salad with fresh tomatoes, don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little extra olive oil on it instead of some fat-free dressing.

That’s the advice of researchers at Iowa State University, who say without adding a little fat to a salad, your body is unlikely to absorb all the nutrients.

I came across this information in an article in The Garlic Press, the newsletter of the Grand Fork Co-op, of which Therese and I are members.

In the study, researchers had graduate students eat bowls of salad greens with tomatoes and various types of salad dressings — from fat-free to regular Italian — over the course of several months. When researchers analyzed  blood samples taken from the volunteers before and after they’d eaten the salads, they found out that the ones who had eaten fat-free or low-fat dressings didn’t absorb the beneficial carotinoids from the salads.

Carotinoids are the pigments responsible for the red-, yellow- and orange-colored fruits. The compounds convert to vitamin A in the body. Studies also have show that carontinoids  are loaded with anti-oxidants, which help protect cells from damage from free radicals, cancer-causing agents.

With this info in mind, give the following salad a try. To your health!

Avocado and Tomato Salad
SALAD:
5 large avocados, halved, pitted and diced
2 cups tomatoes, washed, quartered or grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 small white onion, peeled, sliced
VINAIGRETTE:
Juice of 2 large limes
¼ cup white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
In a large bowl, gently mix together the avocados, tomatoes, cilantro and onion. In a glass measure, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour the vinaigrette over the avocado salad and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate 1 hour.
Yield: Serves. 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per ½-cup per serving: 277 calories (82 percent from fat), 25 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 234 milligramns sodium, no cholesterol, 27 milligrams calcium, 9 grams fiber.

Onion Heaven

This year is shaping up to be a great one for growing onions.

I have two varieties — sweet Spanish and Walla Walla. I purchased the sweet Spanish from Bergeson Nursery near Fertile, Minn. Those were the kind my dad use to grow in his country garden — east of Crookston and just west of Marcoux Corner — at the farm of his friend, Harvey Delorme. They were always a good producer. The Walla Wallas came from co-worker Dave Brodeur, who along with his wife, Peggy, have a large garden south of East Grand Forks.

My sweet Spanish are coming on nicely, but the Walla Wallas are growing at a pace I’ve never seen before in onions. Some of them already are the size of a softball.

Dave and Peggy sell some of their produce at work, and a couple of my other co-workers bought some of their Walla Wallas and were wondering what to do with them. They kidded me about making some blooming onions for them.

Well, I’m going to be in the same dilemma as them — once fall rolls around. You see, the sweet Spanish are good keepers, meaning they won’t spoil all winter as long as they are kept in a cool place. (We had fresh onions until mid-April this year.) The Walla Wallas, on the other hand, probably won’t keep much more than a month or two, so we’ll have to use them first.

But I have a solution that will take care of part of my onion problem. I’ve come across a recipe for pickling onions. I’ve pickled a lot of things but never onions. I’m going to give it a try this year.

If you want to try it yourself, here’s the recipe, along with one for an onion soup.

Pickled Onions
About 1¼ pounds (2 medium-large) onions (red or yellow)
1½ cups red wine vinegar
¾ cup sugar
Trim and discard root end of onions. Cut in half from top to bottom. Remove outer layer along with skin. Cut a V in interior of the bottom portion to remove core. Cut into 1/8-inch thick slices following the direction of the lines that run up and down on exterior of the onion; you will end up with thin wedges.
Pack into clean 1-quart canning jar; reserve any slices that don’t fit.
Combine vinegar and sugar in small nonreactive saucepan and bring to boil on high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour hot vinegar mixture over onions. Once onions begin to wilt, you can add remaining onions to jar. Cover. Process in a water bath for 5 minutes (count time after water returns to boiling) or refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 4 weeks.
Yield: About 4 cups.

Roasted Onion Soup
3 sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Walla Walla Sweet, Maui, Texas Sweet or Spanish, quartered
1 yellow onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons canola or other cooking oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup whipping cream
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and pepper
Herbed croutons (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Coat: Toss sweet onions, yellow onion and whole peeled garlic with the oil and the salt and pepper, making sure the vegetables are well-coated. Tumble onions and garlic into an oven-friendly pot that fits the ingredients in a single layer.
Roast: Slide pot, uncovered, into a 375-degree oven. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, to allow for even cooking.
Add: Toss in the carrots, celery and shallot. Roast an additional 10 minutes. Add cream, stir to coat all the ingredients, and cook 10 more minutes.
Simmer: Remove pot from the oven and pour in 5 cups of the broth (set aside the remaining 1 cup). Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Turn down the heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Blend: Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender, or in batches (carefully) using a countertop blender. Add the butter and swirl smooth. Press the puree through a fine-meshed strainer.
Adjust: If the soup seems too thick, stir in some of the remaining broth. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve: Enjoy hot, either solo or accompanied by herbed croutons and Parmesan cheese.
Yield: Serves 6.

Apple Jelly Time

I just finished reading a story about how most U.S. apple growers are expecting a record crop this summer, which got me to thinking about making jelly.

Last year, my friend and gardening partner, Darrel Koehler, had an overabundance of grapes, so he passed some on to me. With them, I made some jelly and also canned several pints of juice. I also was given several bags of chokecherries by Mac and Bettye Salisbury, which also became jelly.

This summer, I’m contemplating some crab apple jelly. When I was growing up, we had a crab apple tree in our backyard, and my mom always made jelly. But after we grew, much to my chagrin, she had the apple tree cut down. She said it was too big a mess to clean up in fall.

Ever since, I’ve thought about that tasty jelly and wished for some to have on a sandwich with a little peanut butter. This summer, I’m going to give crab apple jelly a try, since friends have trees that are loaded.

While looking for recipes, I came across the following one from the folks at Mrs. Wages, which makes mixes for jellies, salsas and the like. While I make some salsa from scratch, my version in which a package of Mrs. Wages Classic Salsa Mix (there now are five new flavors) has been a hit. So, I’m going to give the crab apple mix a try.

Crab Apple Jelly
4 cups apple juice
1 package Mrs. Wages Home-Jell
6 cups sugar
Sort and wash apples and remove stems. Do not core. Cut the fruit into small pieces. Add 1 cup of water to each pound of chopped apples. Cover the kettle and bring to a boil. When the batch starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 25 to 30 minutes, until the fruit is tender but not mushy. Place contents of the kettle into a jelly bag. Let the juice drip into a clean pan. Follow the procedure under making jelly.
Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint jars.
Noe: Spiced apple jelly can be made by adding a few whole spices to the cooking apples. Added spice should be tied up in a cloth bag.

Salmon Cakes

All winter long and into the spring, I like to have a dinner plan for meals. When going home for lunch at noon to let the dogs out, I always come up with something for supper. But when summer rolls around, we kind of wing it a lot of nights.

About the only other times this happens during the year is when Therese goes out of town. Often, I’ll take a can of tuna and mix up it up with a little Miracle Whip and put it on toast with a few slices of sweet pickles.

Well, that’s the way it’s gonna be tonight, since she and our grandson, Rakeem, went to the lake for a couple of days to visit my aunt and uncle.

And I already have a plan. I bought a couple of cans of salmon a few months back and have decided to use one for my supper. My reason for going the salmon route is that I came across a recipe for salmon-potato cakes that looks quite appealing.

I haven’t thought about making salmon cakes for quite a while, but this recipe looks like one that will go nicely with some of my fresh garden produce such as tomatoes, beans and cucumbers.

And not only will it be a nutritious meal but an economical one, too. According to its author, the cakes cost only about $1.50 a serving and are quicker and simpler to make than traditional salmon croquettes. And if you want, canned tuna can be substituted for the salmon.

Salmon-Potato Cakes
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
6- to 7-ounce can salmon, squeezed dry and flaked with a fork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unflavored dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup sour cream
In a large bowl, combine the thawed hash browns with the onions. Mash with a fork until the mixture holds together. Add the salmon, eggs, dill, mustard, pepper and salt, then mix well. Form the mixture into patties, then roll them in the breadcrumbs to coat.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. If necessary, use half the oil and cook the patties in batches. Place the patties in the pan and cook until well browned and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve topped with sour cream.
Yield: Serves 4.
 

Pizza Contest Epilogue

The third annual Best Pizza in Grand Forks Contest is history. For pizza lovers, it was a night to remember.

Six Grand Forks’ pizzerias competed in the contest, which was established as a part of Neighborhood Networks Week, an annual celebration at over 1,400 Neighborhood Networks Learning Centers nationwide. In Grand Forks, there are four Neighborhood Networks Centers that are owned and operated by Grand Forks Homes, Inc. and the Grand Forks Housing Authority, which sponsored the event.

For the third straight year, Rhombus Guys won the coveted “People’s Choice” category (voted on by all in attendance) for its T Rex creation, a meat-lover’s pizza. The other categories were Kids’ Choice, Most Creative, Best Crust, Best Value and Best Gourmet pizza. The Kids’ Choice category featured judges ages 5-12 who are residents of LaGrave Place, one of the Neighborhood Network centers. (For story on contest and other results, go to  www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/128755/.)

The freewill offerings went to the local Neighborhood Networks Learning Centers, which serve people of all ages, helping them thrive in the areas of education, physical, mental, and social wellness and self-sufficiency.

I was lucky enough to be one of the guest judges, which also included Greg Lotysz, Kathy Sukalski, Kevin Dean, Mark Goodman, Rockin’ Rick Acker, Rocky Graziano, Thomasine Heitkamp and Terry Brown. The event was emceed by Tony Trimarco, director of UND’s Memorial Union.

Most of the pizzas in the contest were loaded with meat, as my co-worker Tu-Uyen Tran reported in the Herald. While I love just about any kind of pizza and feel fortunate to have so many good places to get them in town (despite what some have said in comments on the Herald Web site), I generally go for ones that are on the meatless side.

With that in mind, here’s one that recently caught my fancy that vegetarians might like. It reminds me of one I used to order at the Italian Moon 30 years ago. At that time, I was a vegetarian and lamented the fact that there were no places that had specialty pizzas that were meatless. Shortly after that, Ken Towers, owner of the Moon, added a vegetarian pizza to the menu. He still reminds me of that whenever I see him.

Now, just about every pizza place in town has a vegetarian version.

Onion, Pepper and Mushroom Pizza
1 (10 or 12-inch) thin-crust pizza base
Olive oil spray
1 large, ripe tomato, sliced (about 1½ cups)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ounces part-skim milk mozzarella cheese, sliced
2½ cups sliced baby bello mushrooms
1 bell pepper (red, yellow or green), sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place pizza base on the foil and spray with olive oil. Arrange tomato slices on top in a single layer, overlapping as necessary. Sprinkle on oregano and top with mozzarella slices. Spread mushrooms over the cheese and bell pepper and onions on top of the mushrooms. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 699 calories (26 percent from fat), 20.3 grams fat (7.4 grams saturated, 2.7 grams monounsaturated), 32 milligrams cholesterol, 35.6 grams protein, 96.1 grams carbohydrates, 8.7 grams fiber, 1,106 milligrams sodium.