Get Cooking with Jr Iron Chef VT 2020!

Jr Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition organized by Vermont FEED (our farm to school partnership project with NOFA-VT) that challenges teams of middle and high school students to create nutritious, local dishes to inspire school meal programs. 

On March 14th, 2020, hundreds of middle and high school students will gather at the Champlain Valley Exposition with well-tested recipes in hand to compete in this rewarding culinary experience. But it’s much more than a one-day competition! Since 2008, over 4,500 Vermont teens have chosen to learn healthy cooking and leadership skills while helping their school, family, and community become healthier places. Students spend time working with their local chefs, farmers, teachers, and school nutrition staff, which opens students’ eyes to career paths within the food system.

Team registration for the 2020 competition opens November 15!  Contact Jr Iron Chef VT if you’d like support connecting to a local chef or building a team.

For a taste of the competition, try Green Mountain Technology & Career Center team’s recipe for “Rich and Creamy Ratatouille in a Roasted Pepper Sauce.” The dish earned the Crowd Pleaser Award last year, and they even took their cooking skills to the State House to prepare samples for Vermont legislators on Farm to School Awareness Day. 


Rich and Creamy Ratatouille in a Roasted Pepper Sauce

By Green Mountain Technology & Career Center’s 2019 Jr Iron Chef VT team

"Rich and Creamy Ratatouille in a Roasted Pepper Sauce" & the GMTCC team cooking at the Vermont State House.

Ingredients

Main

  • 3 large delicata squash
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 large summer squash
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, peeled
  • 4 medium purple potatoes, peeled

Pepper Sauce

  • 3T olive oil for the pan and ¼ C for the pepper sauce
  • 12oz. can tomatoes
  • 4 peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ t oregano
  • ½ t thyme
  • ½ t red pepper flakes
  • ½ t black pepper and salt

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4T unsalted butter
  • 8T all purpose flour
  • 1 pint 2% milk
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • ½ C parmesan cheese

Directions

Red Pepper Sauce

  1. Cut a hole into the top part of each pepper and pull out the seeds. On a gas stove, put peppers over the flame and rotate to char each side. Take peppers off the flame when they’re mostly black. Wrap them in aluminum foil for about 1 minute, or until the skin can be peeled off easily. 
  2. Strain the juice from the tomatoes.
  3. Put the tomatoes, peeled peppers, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, and olive oil into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Cook mixture on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until it has a sauce-like consistency.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Put onion in milk on low heat in a separate pot.
  3. Add flour to the melted butter while whisking vigorously. Cook until it turns light brown.
  4. Pour the milk and onions into the butter slowly while whisking until it forms a smooth texture.
  5. Take off the heat and stir in salt, pepper, cayenne, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Putting it all together

  1. Blanch the potatoes in boiling water for 3–5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13” x 9” casserole pan.
  3. Set mandoline to cut ⅛” slices. Slice all the vegetables into neat, round pieces. Try to cut everything similarly so they cook at the same speed.  
  4. Spread 1C of pepper sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.  
  5. Layer the vegetables in alternating pattern and arrange them in a line from the outside toward the middle baking dish.  
  6. Spread a layer of parmesan sauce over top of the vegetables.  
  7. Spread remaining pepper sauce onto and around the vegetables.
  8. Bake uncovered on the center rack for 30–45 minutes, or until a knife enters the vegetables without resistance.
  9. Allow to cool on the counter for 15–30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with remaining sauce and a sprinkle of basil for garnish.

Find all of the 2019 Jr Iron Chef VT recipes here

The GMTCC team after winning the Crowd Pleaser Award at the 2019 Jr Iron Chef VT competition.

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