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4 Family-Friendly Summer Recipes That Are Healthy and Delicious

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Photo by Christina Peters

Have picky eaters at home? Don’t fret! These Delaware chefs share budget-friendly, nutritious meals that the whole family will enjoy.

By Pam George and Meg Ryan 

Pan-Roasted Turkey Nuggets with Root Vegetable Fries

By Chef Robbie Jester, Full Circle Foods 

Many people know Robbie Jester from the Stone Balloon, but the chef also owns Full Circle Food, a meal-prep and delivery service for busy families. This popular dish has been in the rotation.

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Have a picky eater at your table? The best part about these recipes is that they can be modified to taste./Adobe Stock | Jacek Chabraszewski

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 6 ounces of carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 6 ounces of parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 1 pound of turkey breast, skin removed and cut into nuggets
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon of rosemary, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.

In a bowl, mix the carrot and parsnip sticks with half the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely roasted and tender. Remove them from the oven and divide among two plates.

While the root vegetables are in the oven, place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat until it’s warm but not smoking. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan.

In a bowl large enough to comfortably fit everything, combine the turkey nuggets, rosemary, thyme and Dijon mustard. Mix until the turkey is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Using tongs, place the turkey nuggets gently in the hot pan, making sure to spread them out.

Once the nuggets are browned, turn them and repeat the cooking process until they are brown on all sides and cooked through. (If you have cut large nuggets, you may need to transfer them to a baking sheet and finish them in the oven to avoid drying them out.)

Once the turkey nuggets are fully cooked, remove them from the pan and serve with theroot vegetable fries and your favorite healthy condiment.

Paella

By Chef Robert Belt, Summer House, Rehoboth Beach 

This multistep, one-pan dish gives families the opportunity to discuss other cultures. Paella, which means “frying pan” in Valencian, originated in Valencia on Spain’s coast. Chef Robert Belt ups the healthy quotient by focusing on seafood and veggies, using brown rice and omitting the usual chorizo.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken broth or hot water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup of red pepper, diced
  • ¾ cup of carrots, diced
  • 1½ cups of uncooked brown rice
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • A pinch of red pepper flake or to taste
  • A pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 pound of mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
  • ¾ cup of shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ¾ cup of frozen peas
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Heat the broth or water in a pan and keep hot.

In a cast-iron pan or nonstick skillet, heat some of the oil. (If using the latter, you may need less oil.) Sauté the chicken until it’s cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

If needed, add more oil to the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, pepper and carrots until just browned.

Add the rice to the vegetables and “toast” it by moving it quickly around the pan for 30 seconds.

Add the turmeric, salt, oregano, paprika and red pepper flakes.

Slowly, pour a half-cup of broth or water into the skillet and add the saffron. Stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process for about 20 minutes or until the rice is just al dente.

When the rice is almost done, add the mussels, shrimp, reserved chicken and peas. Stir, adding broth or water as needed, until the rice is done, the shrimp are pink, and the mussels have opened. (Discard any that do not open.)

If you wish, remove the mussels from the shell, garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

paella

Adobe Stock/nikkytok

Blackened Mahi Fish Tacos

By Chef Brendan Tharp, Bluecoast Seafood Grill + Raw Bar, Rehoboth Beach 

There’s something about building tacos— and eating them with your hands—that appeals to kids. Chef Brendan Tharp shares how to use fish and fresh vegetables to turn taco night into a fun, nutritious meal.
Ingredients:
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ head of green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 3 radishes
  • Magic Seasoning Blend or another blackening spice to taste
  • 2 ounces of olive oil
  • 1½ pounds of fresh mahi, skin removed
  • Soft flour or corn tortillas
  • A bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Hot sauce or salsa (optional)

Directions:

Remove the zest and juice the limes. Whisk both into the sour cream. Add salt as needed.

Using a box grater, shave the cabbage and carrot into a fresh slaw. Thinly slice the radishes.

Cut the mahi into 3/4-ounce “strips” and sprinkle with blackening spice. (Shake lightly if your kids are sensitive to spice.)

In a griddle or large pan, heat the olive oil and sear the mahi.

While the fish is cooking, warm the tortillas in a pan on low heat. Flip them when they’re slightly toasted.

Place mahi in a tortilla and cover it with the slaw and radishes. Drizzle the sour cream “crema” and cilantro over the top. Then add your favorite salsa or hot sauce.

Roasted Vadouvan Pork Shoulder and Black Bean Stew with Spicy Cilantro Cream

By Nino Mancari, executive chef, Good Earth Market & Organic Farm, Ocean View

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Photo by Christina Peters

This versatile recipe of roasted pork, bean stew and spicy cilantro cream began in Nino Mancari’s home kitchen. The foundation is the chef’s crispy, well-seasoned pork, as it is cooked separately from the bean stew and added on top with a drizzle of cream and crispy tortilla strips. “This can make several days of meals, each tweaked into something new, like a taco filling,” Mancari suggests. At Good Earth Market, patrons won’t receive the same dish every time. Mancari sees this as a good thing, especially for home cooks looking to use up some things in their pantry. “It gets a personal touch from each cook that makes it.”

Stew

  • 2 yellow onions, medium diced
  • 1 small bunch celery, medium diced (reserve one rib for herb bundle)
  • 3 medium carrots, medium diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • Bacon or chorizo, diced small (optional)
  • Bundle of thyme, bay leaves, oregano and celery rib (herbs tucked into the celery stalk, wrapped and tied with butcher’s twine)
  • 2 bags of black beans, quick soaked*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*How to quick soak beans:

Boil beans for two minutes in a large pot of unsalted water. Let stand in the pot for 45 minutes. Drain and rinse well.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and bacon or chorizo, if using, until just softened.

Add the herb bundle, cinnamon, cumin and black beans.

Cover by 3 inches of cold water and simmer till beans are softened. The liquid should have thickened slightly.

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove herb bundle and cinnamon stick.

Pork

  • 1 Heritage Breed pork shoulder
  • 1 cup Vadouvan curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups wine, cider or water (to deglaze)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Following the natural seams of the pork shoulder, cut into rough cubes, about 1.5 by 1.5 inch.

Drizzle olive oil in a heavy roasting pan. Arrange pork in an even layer. Roast, turning occasionally, till golden brown, about 35 minutes. The pork will be tender but should still have some “bite” to it.

Remove pork to tray. Keep warm

Over medium heat, deglaze with the liquid of your choosing, scraping with a wooden spoon. Add the browned bits and liquid to the stew.

Cilantro Cream

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed

Directions:

Purée all the ingredients in a high-powered blender or bullet.

Season with salt to taste.

Tortilla strip garnish (optional)

Thinly slice corn tortillas into julienne strips.

Working in batches, fry in oil till crisp.

Using a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste.

Finally, ladle the stew into bowls, topping with pieces of pork, a dollop of cream and crisp tortillas.