Mouth Watering Recipes with Georgia-Grown Produce

Courtesy Family Features


If you think Southern cooking is all about deep-fried food, you’re missing out on some wonderful dining opportunities. Chef Rosemary Rutland has created these mouthwatering recipes that showcase Georgia-grown peaches, blueberries, watermelons, pecans and Vidalia onions.

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing ambrosia, a delightful tilapia dish or a unique salad, these recipes give you a whole new way to think about Southern cuisine. Discover more recipes designed for Georgia-grown produce at

Did You Know?
• There are more than 40 different varieties of peaches grown in Georgia. A versatile fruit, peaches can be used in sweet dishes as well as a complement to savory meals. Learn more at

• Warm days, a few cold nights, and just the right growing conditions make Georgia blueberries plumper and sweeter than other varieties. They’re high in fiber, have no fat and have just 80 calories per cup. Find out more at

• Georgia pecans have the highest amount of antioxidants of any tree nut. Enjoy them as a healthy snack, in sweet treats, and in main dishes. For more information, visit

• Sweet Vidalia onions are only available during spring and summer. Hand planted and hand harvested in south Georgia, these uniquely mild favorites are so sweet you can even eat them raw. Get more serving ideas at

• Watermelons from Georgia are fun to carve and easy to serve as slices. Rich in vitamins A and C and full of lycopene, watermelon can also be used in drinks, snacks and desserts. Learn more at

Baby Spinach Salad with Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese,
Blueberries and Peach–Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 servings

• ½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
• 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
• 1 8-ounce log goat cheese, chilled
• 1 bag (6 ounces) raw baby spinach, stems removed
• ¾ cup fresh blueberries
• 1 ⅓ cup watermelon cubes, ½- to ¾-inch dice

Dressing (yield: ¾ cup):
• 1 cup fresh peach slices
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 5 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon sugar, as needed
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion
• Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chopped pecans and mint. Spread pecan mixture on a plate or cutting board, and gently roll cheese to coat evenly.
Place peaches, lemon juice and cider vinegar in blender and puree until smooth. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Add canola oil, and then puree until smooth and thickened.

Remove from blender, stir in onion, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.
In large bowl, add spinach and add enough dressing to coat all of the leaves evenly. Divide dressed spinach on four chilled plates and garnish with blueberries and watermelon.

Slice goat cheese into eight equal pieces using tautly held, unflavored dental floss or a knife. Add two slices of goat cheese on top of each salad. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings; 1 cup per serving

• 2 ripe Georgia peaches, peeled, pit removed, cut into
½-inch slices
• 3 cups watermelon cubes, about 3/4-inch dice
• 1 ¼ cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
• 2 ripe mangos, peeled, seed removed, chopped into ½-inch dice
• 1 cup sweetened coconut (toasted if desired)
• ⅓ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
• 1 ½ tablespoons Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
• 4 teaspoons honey
• Pinch kosher salt
• 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

In large bowl, combine peaches, watermelon, blueberries, mango and coconut.

In small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, Grand Mariner, honey and salt.

Pour lime mixture over fruit and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for no more than 30 minutes.

Just before serving, mix in pecans.

Panko-Crusted Tilapia with Georgia Watermelon, Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Yield: 4 servings

• 1 cup chopped fresh peaches, cut into 1/4-inch dice
• ¾ cup chopped watermelon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
• ⅓ cup chopped Vidalia onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
• ½ cup seeded, chopped English cucumber, cut
into 1/4-inch dice
• 1 medium-size jalapeño pepper, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed, chopped fine
• 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
• Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste

• 4 6-ounce tilapia fillets
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 ¼ cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Vegetable or canola oil for pan frying

Make salsa a few hours ahead of time by combining all salsa ingredients in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and then cover and refrigerate until use.

For the fish, prepare three shallow bowls such as pie pans. In the first, place flour, paprika and cayenne, stirring to combine. In the second, place beaten eggs. In the third, place panko.

Pour almost 1/4 inch of oil into a large sauté pan. Heat over medium heat until shimmering and hot.

Season fillets liberally on one side with salt and pepper. Dredge each fillet, one at a time, first in seasoned flour, then egg, and finally panko, gently shaking off any excess after each step.

Gently put one or two fillets in sauté pan without crowding. The oil should come almost halfway up the thickness of the fish. Pan fry until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes each side.

Place fish on a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat process with remaining fillets.

Place fish on serving plates and top with desired amount of salsa. Enjoy immediately.

Recipes by Rosemary Rutland courtesy of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

This article appears in the May-June 2012 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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