Meijer’s new Meal Inspirations draw on the culinary skill of creating a classic mirepoix, defined as a flavorful mixture of diced vegetables and seasonings. Plus, Meal Inspiration kits are designed to inspire at-home chefs to create their own unique recipes.
Each of the four new Meal Inspiration kits offers three recipes included on the peel-away label. The recipes call for minimal additional ingredients and each recipe is ready in under 40 minutes with no chopping of vegetables.
Meijer also introduced four new vegetable kits called “Roasters” that are perfect for roasting. Each kit has cooking instructions and all ingredients are included to prepare. The customer simply needs to add olive oil and roast.
By Richard Thompson
“We were cleaning our aprons when he just comes in to have coffee. We were planning the dinner and he just walks in. Really, it was like he floated in,” recalls Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef of Felidia and meal curator for the Pope.
Bastianich gets giddy and, in her sweet Italian accent, recounts the time that the People’s Pope walked into her kitchen and took a coffee break with her and her staff. “He talked to us about family – in Italian of course – for nearly 15 minutes. It was extraordinary, but beautiful because he addressed each one of us and asked us to pray for him.” she says.
For Bastianich, who is a devout Catholic, the pope’s surprise visit to her kitchen resonated on a personal and professional level. “He makes people feel important in his life. From somebody of his magnitude…it’s big,” Bastianich says.
For anyone wondering if the Pope likes cream or sugar in his coffee, he doesn’t. “For me, cooking for the Pope is special because…I am proud to give back through what is most dear to me on this Earth: food and my family,” she says.
Bastianich worked alongside Angelo Vivolo and a team of executive chefs that included Bastianich’s children to carefully curate a meal plan that would embody a homeliness for the spiritual leader. “For me, food – comfort food – is home, and I wanted [the pope] to feel welcome and feel like he was right at home,” says Bastianich.
Initially aiming to create a series of dishes reminiscent of Pope Francis’s background, Bastianich instead moved to lighter fare such as squash and other vegetables, rice and fresh fish to accommodate his diet better. “I wanted him to feel like he was in his mother’s kitchen. We were going to show off American beef – a whole rack – for Argentinian beef meals, but we were told he wanted to eat light, so I cooked more seasonal fare like rice dishes… He loves risotto with some olive oil, lemon and parsley,” she says.
The first meal that would grace the pope’s plate was Caprese di Astice e Burrata (Heirloom tomatoes, house-made Burrata and steamed Maine lobster) followed by Brodo di Cappone con Anolini (Capon soup with Grana Padano raviolini) and veal medallions ‘Boscaiola’, porcini, corn and fresh tomato – known as Medaglioni di Vitello alla Boscaiola. For dessert, Sobetto di Uva Fragola con Torta degli Angeli – Concord grape sorbetto with angel food cake.
While the pope follows a very specific diet, Bastianich’s capon soup was such a hit with His Holiness that he had leftovers the next day. “It was really done from the heart…I made a big pot of capon soup and fed it to him twice. One day with lots of vegetables and one day with lots of rice,” says Bastianich.
Each morning started at 6:45 am with the pope coming down for a breakfast that consisted of a medley of frittatas, all kinds of yogurts, honeys and cereals and fruits of every type, recalls Bastianich, “He was rather simple on the breakfasts he liked and was very undemanding of everything, but he loved his coffee.”
The pope never did business at the table – maybe with the exception of light scheduling – and didn’t stray from his routine of mangoes and pineapple, Melba toast and some jam, despite the abundance of jams, baked goods, crepes and freshly squeezed juices that were available. “Saturday was the last breakfast…and he greeted everyone’s family before eating,” Bastianich says. “It was very moving.”
Bastianich relied on her own personal garden to provide many of the ingredients in the vegetable-inspired lunch that was prepared for Pope Francis. Insalata Cotta e Cruda con la Nostra Ricotta, cooked and raw vegetable salad with Felidia’s ricotta, comprised a veritable cornucopia of Bastianich’s private vegetable reserve. “Whatever I had in my garden is what I made with…beautiful squash, string beans, beets, sage, basil, parsley, tomatoes….” she says, “We wanted the pope to feel the love of home.”
Next came the Risotto con Porcini e Tartufi (Risotto with porcini, summer truffles and Grana Padano Riserva) followed by Pere ed uva al forno con Gelato alla Vaniglia, roasted pears and grapes with vanilla gelato, for dessert.
For dinner, Bastianich focused the four-course meal of fresh striped bass, tuna and vegetables. The Tutto Tonno is tuna tartare made with a semi carpaccio preserve and tonnato sauce that was followed by the Cacio e Pere, pear and pecorino filled ravioli, aged pecorino and crushed black pepper. The main dish of the evening was Bastianich’s signature Felidia dish, Spigola Striata al forno con Olio d’oliva e Limone, which is whole roasted striped bass, late summer vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and lemon. The dessert was a specially made apple crostata with local honey ice cream. “I think the focus is on the ingredients – the goodness of the ingredients. When making traditional Italian, stick to traditional Italian products. I always say, ‘Follow the recipe…don’t be dominated by it,’” says Bastianich.
Bastianich tempers any pride in who she serves with the humility that the Holy Father carries with him to the masses. “Food is not a luxury,” she says with the inflection of an Italian matriarch, when asked why cooking for Pope Francis meant so much to her. “Food nourishes us all in about the same way.”
Amen to that.
In the sunburned heart of southern New Mexico, the Tres Hermanas Mountains rise from the horizon. Nearby, in the town of Deming, family homes, local business, and acres and acres of pepper farms sprawl out in their protective shadow. It is from these mountains that Tres Hermanas takes its name. It is from this community where Tres Hermanas is inspired.
Tres Hermanas believes that great flavor comes from great farms. This is why the company works diligently alongside farmers that have grown peppers for generations. Together, Tres Hermanas and its farmers cultivate the very best seeds and ideal growing conditions to raise delicious, uniquely New Mexican peppers. All jalapenos, green chiles and tomatillos are grown within a 30-mile radius of the company’s headquarters to ensure maximum farm-to-flavor freshness.
Each fall, these peppers are harvested by hand, with each one carefully considered to ensure that only the best New Mexican peppers make it to your shelves – and your shoppers’ tables. The farmers and their families celebrate this pepper harvest by making a whirlwind of sauces and salsas, bringing age-old family recipes to life with flavorful fresh ingredients.
Tres Hermanas brings these traditional recipes to you with a full line of peppers and sauces. These peppers fill dishes with raw desert spices. Sauces run from sunset red to verdant green. All are imbued with a touch of something special that sparks the senses, something that transports anyone who enjoys their flavor from their dining room to a sun-soaked plain outside Deming, where three gentle peaks rise to kiss the turquoise sky.
Inspired by the vivid flavors this community has enjoyed for generations, these cooking sauces make it easy to create truly authentic Mexican meals in only a few simple steps.
So whether your shoppers enjoy spicy peppers, authentic sauces or both, everyone will love the dips, enchiladas, nachos, tacos, burritos and even pizzas they can make with the bold, farm-raised flavor of Tres Hermanas.