Pick one fruit or vegetable and prepare it three ways. These were the directives we were given for this month’s Creative Cooking Crew challenge. Since it is summer there is no shortage of options. The tough part is actually picking that one ingredient.
My original idea was blueberries but I could not find nice ones in my neighborhood (I am embarrased to say) but I saw some lovely blackberries. I have always found them to be so mysterious and I would say they picked me! For an extra challenge my three recipes componse the main course. No desserts here. My menu consists of a pizza, a salad and of course a refreshing cocktail.
As you check out the recipes let me share with you 9 blackberry facts you may not know which I found on an article in the Huffington Post:
1) Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, but other nutritional benefits include a very low sodium count and having only 62 calories to a cup.
2) The dark blue colour ensures blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers, are a huge bonus, but be aware the berries are best consumed in their natural state to get the full benefits.
Make one cocktail per guest but I suggest making an extra one as the cook while you are preparing the meal 🙂
- 5 mint leaves
- 3 blackberries
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 small lime, juiced
- 2 oz Rum
- Extra blackberries
- Club Soda
- Muddle the mint leaves, blackberries, sugar and lime in a glass.
- Mix in the rum, a few whole blackberries and ice.
- Top of with club soda.
3) The berries are known by a variety of names, which include brambleberries, bramble, dewberry, thimbleberry and lawers.
4) Consumption of blackberries can help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue, which is a great non-surgical procedure to make skin look younger. Prolonged consumption also helps keeps your brain alert, thereby maintaining clarity of thought and good memory.
Yields 4 servings
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- Sharp white cheddar
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- a good grind of pepper
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 teaspoon honey
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold the puff pastry and lay it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use a fork to prick holes over the surface, leaving the edges untouched.
- Arrange the basil leaves over the dough.
- Slice and place the cheddar cheese slices randomly on the dough.
- Dollop the ricotta over the dough, followed by a sprinkling of blackberries.
- Sprinkle the pizza with pepper and salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden.
- Drizzle with a little honey. Cut in triangles and serve warm.
5) The high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits to reduce intestinal inflammation, alleviate hemorrhoids and soothe the effects of diarrhea. It is important to incorporate berries in your diet in a variety of ways. Have them as a snack or in your cereal or even as a smoothie.
6) Traditionally, the leaves and barks of the plant have also been consumed. The leaves of blackberries have been used to treat mild inflammation of the gums and sometimes even sore throats.
7) The astringent tannins are effective in oral hygiene when used as a gargle or mouthwash.
- 3/4 cup fresh blackberries
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- a good grind of pepper
- 8 cups baby spinach
- Mash well 1/4 cup blackberries and 1/4 cup of the peanuts into a chunky paste. Mix with vinegar, sugar, pepper, remaining peanuts and salt. Whisk in oil.
- Add spinach to the bowl and toss in well the dressing. Divide among 4 plates and top with remaining blackberries.
8) The leaves can also be used in a refreshing cup of tea or enhanced as a therapeutic drink. Not everyone will like the flavour, so to mask the bitter taste, honey or another form of sweetener may be added.
9) The healthy dose of Vitamin K aids in muscle relaxing, so some women use the berries to alleviate labour pains. As part of a regular diet, the juice can also be used to regulate menstruation as it is very effective in helping blood to clot.