Tag Archives: Gluten Free

Creamy Kale Casserole

I developed this recipe last month in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Yes, you heard me right: Thanksgiving.

I know that Turkey Day is months away, but now is the perfect time to try out new holiday recipes without the pressure of extended family and a big turkey in your kitchen. Plus many of our fall favorite ingredients like kale, potatoes, mushrooms and carrots are also in season during Central Texas’ late spring months, making them cost effective and easy to find this time of year.

This recipe is my mostly-local, from-scratch answer to traditional green bean casserole.  This kale dish has the creamy-salty-crunchy qualities that make green bean casserole great, minus the gelatinous condensed soup, palm-oil soaked onions, and soggy canned beans that make it not so great.

I’m using curly kale here since it’s cheap and in season in Austin in the fall. However, I’ve made this dish successfully with baby spinach, fresh green beans, field peas and chard, too, by reducing the cooking time for the tender veggies and increasing it for the field peas. Experiment now with your family’s favorite ingredients so that you’ll have your own version perfected in time for Thanksgiving dinner!

Creamy Kale Casserole (serves 4-6 as a side dish)
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1/2 yellow or white onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head curly kale, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons white wine, veggie stock or water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pan, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Once onions are tender, add the chopped kale to the skillet along with the wine. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, until kale is bright green and tender.

Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to cream together the remaining melted butter,  softened cream cheese, milk, salt and pepper.

Once kale is par-cooked, combine it with the cream cheese mixture in a 1.5 quart casserole dish.* Top with chopped pecans and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.

*To make this dish ahead of time, follow the recipe up to this point. Store the casserole dish, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to two days. Bring the creamed kale to room temperature and remove the plastic wrap before adding pecans and baking the dish as directed.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

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Soup with Escarole, White Beans and Sausage

When I saw that we were getting escarole from Tecolote Farms in our Local Box, I was excited for two reasons: (1) I have been craving sausage and escarole soup something fierce (2) I was already planning to visit Tecolote Farms on Saturday for a food swap. It seems silly when I write it down, but I felt like seeing the farmers who grew my Local Box escarole would be like seeing celebrities!!

Tecolote farmers Katie and Dave did not disappoint when I saw them last Saturday.  Their fields are about half an hour east of my house in Austin, flanked by live oak trees and dirt roads.

At the food swap, I managed to keep my celebrity-farmer-worship in check long enough to trade Farmer Katie some muffins for some Tecolote mustard greens. After the food swap Farmer Dave was kind enough to give us  swappers a tour of the farm.

Dave discussed some of the challenges of organic farming in Texas (draught, wind, heat, politics) and gave us some delicious, fresh-picked samples of the crops they’re growing at Tecolote this spring. Here he is, picking some peppery micro-greens for us to try.

As I had hoped, I got to see some of the Local Box escarole while it was still in the field! Dave didn’t seem to mind my paparazzi farm photos too much.

Visiting the farm in person really helped me appreciate how many hours of work local farmers spend providing food for us each week in the city. I left Tecolote Farms with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for locally sourced produce. And a renewed craving for that sausage and escarole soup.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I sourced the sausage in this recipe from Meyers’ Sausage in Elgin. Any sausage would work fine, but I am partial to either Meyers’ smoked sage or Richardson Farms‘ brats because their rich flavor complements the creamy beans and bitter greens in this hearty soup.

Escarole, Sausage and White Bean Soup (serves 4-6)
4 links sausage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
1 head escarole
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1-3/4 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini (2, 14.5 ounce cans)
1 cup cooking liquid from the beans (or liquid from the can)
1 quart chicken broth

Cut off the tough bottom stem of the escarole, then wash the remaining leaves in cold water to get rid of any grit. Set the escarole leaves aside to dry. Slice spring onions and mince garlic; set aside.

Slice sausage into rounds and place in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally. Once the fat from the sausage starts to render, add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add Worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of water to the pot as the sausage mixture continues to cook. Meanwhile, slice the escarole leaves into thin ribbons and mince the parsley. Add these to the pot along with the red pepper and stir. Continue sauteing greens until they lose half their volume, for about 5 minutes.

Once there’s enough room in the pot, add the cooked beans, 1 cup of bean liquid, and 1 quart of chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and allow soup to simmer for about 15 minutes before serving.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Strawberry Lemonade

When life hands you strawberry preserves, make lemonade! At least, that was my solution to use up the six cups (!!) of homemade strawberry preserves I had on hand after a berry binge at the farmer’s market last week.

In this easy recipe, the sweet flavor of strawberry jam is brightened with fresh lemon juice and ice water. It’s perfect for sipping on a warm spring night! If you’re looking for a shortcut, I recommend substituting Confituras’ strawberry vanilla bean jam for homemade and using an electric juicer for the lemons, if you have one.

Strawberry Lemonade (makes about 2 quarts)
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 cup lemon juice, from 8-10 small lemons
Lemon slices for garnishes
4-5 cups ice

Method: Juice lemons and strain juice for seeds. Set aside.

Next, puree strawberry preserves and sugar in a blender until mixture is completely combined and smooth. If you’re put off by strawberry seeds in your lemonade now is the time to strain the strawberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve. I skip this step since I like the rustic look of the lemonade with strawberry seeds.

Microwave two cups of water in a microwave-safe container for two minutes. Carefully pour sweetened strawberry preserves and hot water into a two-quart pitcher and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

Next, fill the pitcher 2/3 of the way full of ice, add the strained lemon juice, and stir to mix the lemonade together. Pour lemonade into ice-filled glasses and garnish with a slice of lemon.

If you’re not planning to serve this drink immediately, it keeps beautifully in a pitcher in the fridge for several hours. You should stir it before serving since the the strawberry part of the lemonade will settle a bit.

Turnip & Collard Green Frittata

Picture of frittata

Frittatas are one of the most powerful tools in the home cook’s arsenal. They are extremely forgiving and easy to adapt to whatever ingredients are in the fridge. Plus, you can serve a frittata at pretty much any meal. Pair it with muffins and fruit salad, and there’s brunch. With crunchy green salad and wine, dinner is served.

Lately I’ve been turning to frittatas at the end of the week to use up the veggies straggling in the crisper drawer, both for quick dinners and make-ahead breakfasts. No matter what specific ingredients I have on hand, I always make frittatas using the same basic formula:

  • 2 cups chopped, cooked vegetables, onions, potatoes or meat
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup liquid dairy- milk, cream, or half and half
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • salt, pepper, garlic and other spices to taste

The recipe fills a 9-inch deep dish pie pan and bakes up in a 325 degree oven for 50 minutes

For this particular frittata, I took inspiration from the traditional southern preparation of turnips and collard greens and I paired those cruciferous veggies with garlic and heavy cream. Some Romano cheese added a bit of bite to the recipe, and I opted to use a mix of duck and chicken eggs since that’s what I had available. Next time we get turnips and collards in the local box, I’m planning to make this dish again and add some smoky bacon to the mix– I’ll just fry it up at the start of preparation and use the bacon fat to saute the veggies.

Picture of Frittata Ingredients

Turnip and Collard Green Frittata
yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 turnips
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch collard greens
6 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
Peel and dice onion, turnips and garlic cloves. Chop stems off of collard greens, wash the leaves thoroughly, and chop them into 1/4 inch ribbons. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and use olive oil to grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.

In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Saute chopped onions, garlic and turnips until they begin to soften. Add the chopped collard greens to the skillet, and cook them with the other vegetables until they are wilted and soft. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

Beat the eggs and cream together in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the cooked vegetables, cheese, salt and pepper to the egg mixture and pour frittata batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven, until eggs are firm.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Spicy Arugula Spread

This is a recipe that almost wasn’t.  It came about last Sunday night while I was preparing beer bread and chai truffles for a food swap the next day.  I was really nervous about going to the swap, in part because I wasn’t sure whether my dishes would be fancy enough for all the foodies in attendance. This is a common fear for me. I call it Potluck Anxiety, and it tends to sneak up any time I take a large batch of treats to a social gathering. Potluck Anxiety is usually really annoying but in this instance I’m glad I had it, because otherwise I might have never made this spicy arugula spread.

Thanks to Potluck Anxiety, I was doubtful that my beer bread would be okay as a standalone dish at the swap. I thought, why not make an herb butter to gussy it up? I wasn’t working from a recipe, just from the vague idea that pesto and butter together would make a good herb butter.  So off I went. For the pesto, I improvised using whatever I could find in the fridge: some arugula, green onions, pecans, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

When I tasted the pesto I enjoyed it so much that I almost kept the whole batch for myself.  Luckily, Potluck Anxiety told me that bread alone wouldn’t cut it, and I pushed forward in the quest for herb butter. To my cup of arugula pesto, I added 4 tablespoons of salted butter.

No bueno. The butter did nothing but turn the pesto into an oily mess! I could have resolved this by adding more butter, but I had used the last of it for the beer bread. What to do?

As a measure of desperation, I threw some cream cheese into the processor with the buttered pesto. The flavor of the spread was definitely improved by the cream cheese, but I thought it was still too strong to pair with my mellow beer bread.  Not wanting to be wasteful, I put the finished cream cheese-butter-pesto mixture into a crock in the fridge and forgot about it.

The night of the swap, I was a mess. I had loaded my car and pulled out of the driveway by the time I remembered the arugula spread in the fridge. In the throes of Potluck Anxiety, I turned around to get it mostly because the little orange crock was so cute.  Boy, am I glad that I did!  While the spread was sitting in the fridge overnight it mellowed into a lovely, spreadable, spicy dip. Perfect for pairing with crackers or whole wheat beer bread.  By experimenting with the leftovers, my husband Rami discovered that this spread makes a great pasta sauce if you warm it up in the microwave.

This story has two happy endings. First, I ended up with a new potluck recipe that is easy to put together and a real crowd pleaser. Second, I met a wonderful group of friends at the food swap. There were all sorts of cooks at the party: some were fancy, some were not so fancy, and of them all were kind and accepting. I suspect I will probably have another case of Potluck Anxiety before the next time I see them; my fingers are crossed that I’ll get another winning recipe out of the deal!

Spicy Arugula Spread (makes about 1.5 cups)
4 cups arugula
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 bunch green onions, root tips and limp green tips removed
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Place arugula, garlic and green onions in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse until veggies have broken down into very small pieces.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until completely combined. Mixture will be very soft from the heat of the food processor; store in an airtight container overnight to firm up the spread and allow the flavors to mellow. Enjoy in place of butter on breads, as a dip for crackers, or warm with pasta.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Mustard Green and Lentil Sprout Curry

I consider this dish a personal victory over two of my produce nemeses: mustard greens and lentil sprouts. I know that both of these vegetables are perfectly lovely and nutritious, but they gave me fits before I finally tamed them in this dish. Mustard greens and lentil sprouts are not inherently tricky to cook, I just didn’t grow up eating them and I didn’t have a clue about what do with them when I first got them in the Local Box.

However, the nutritional promise of these two ingredients has kept me trying to include them in our diet. Mustard greens have anti-inflammatory properties and tons of B vitamins– great for dealing with stress– and lentil sprouts have plenty of fiber. Over the past year of trial and error I’ve learned a few tricks for cooking these ingredients, and with tonight’s curry success, I feel confident sharing them. For mustard greens:

  • Wash mustard greens really well before and after chopping to get rid of any grit. We use a salad spinner.
  • Use recipes with bold flavors, like curries, to complement the strong flavor of the mustard greens.
  • Chop the leaves in fine pieces before cooking them.
  • Plan to cook mustard greens about twice as long as you would a milder winter green like spinach. This knocks out any toughness, even in the stems, and improves the final texture of the greens.

For lentil sprouts, I don’t have any preparation tips since most recipes call for the whole lentils in salad. Just wash ’em and go! I like sprout salads okay but my favorite way to eat lentil sprouts is to sneak them into spicy stews like this curry. They become very tender as they cook and fade into the background texture of the dish.

This particular curry came about after I experimented with several different recipes from around the internet: Jugalbandi’s Sprout Curry, Allrecipes’ Curried Mustard Greens, and Matthew Card’s Chickpea Dal.  The final dish is a hybrid of all these, and it comes together in just about half an hour in the kitchen. I originally planned to add a full can of chickpeas to this recipe and decided against it when I ran out of room in my pot.  However, they would have been a welcome addition (along with some extra liquid) if I had needed to stretch the recipe for  an unexpected dinner guest.

Mustard Green & Lentil Sprout Curry (serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 bunch mustard green leaves, stems removed, chopped fine
1.5 cups lentil sprouts
15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 cup light coconut milk
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

In a large, lidded skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onions, minced garlic and diced jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients to the pot, except coconut milk and garnishes.  Stirring constantly, cook until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  At the end of cooking, stir in coconut milk.  Garnish curry with fresh cilantro or parsley and serve with rice, naan, or pita.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Two Healthy Salads by my Husband

Tonight, Rami and I enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had at home in quite a while.  We ate a gingery citrus cole slaw and a quinoa broccoli salad, plus whole wheat beer bread. And the best part, I didn’t cook a single thing!

Earlier tonight I was busy making chocolate chai truffles for a food swap on Monday when Rami walked in the kitchen and said, “How can I help?”

That’s a dangerous question in our house, because in a matter of minutes, he had been put in charge of making our entire dinner. He prepared two salads, Kathy Patalsky’s Napa Cabbage Cole Slaw and Amy Sherman’s Quinoa Arugula Salad, plus a loaf of whole wheat beer bread as a test for another food swap recipe.

The beer bread turned out really well (whew!) and the salads were awesome.  I’m planning a full post on the bread in advance of Monday’s swap, but in the meantime, here’s a recap of the salads:

The cabbage slaw is one of the best cabbage recipes I’ve found online.  Rami is typically not a fan of cabbage, and I don’t care for tangerines. However, in this recipe, we loved both of those foods!

Rami did make a few substitutions in Amy’s recipe according to what we had on hand: tangerines from G&S Grove instead of oranges, double the amount of regular mayo instead of vegan (sorry, Amy!!), and a green bell pepper instead of yellow.  Next time we make this, we’ll experiment by using less ginger and even more tangerines.  And the flavor of the dressing is so strong, I think I might be able to get away with adding a whole bag of sunflower sprouts to the mix.

Equally tasty was this broccolli arugula quinoa salad:

Rami was pretty liberal in his interpretation of the original recipe, which originally called for shaved asparugus, avocado, and lemons. He used  broccoli from Texas Daily Harvest (he added it to the quinoa pot for the last 5 minutes of cooking time), subbed tangerine juice for the lemon juice, and skipped the avocado.  The textures of steamed broccoli and quinoa really work well together, so next week I’ll be looking for more recipes that call for them together.