Squash and Bean Burgers

Getting kids to eat their veggies is not always easy. I don’t have kids, or even claim to know much about them, but this is something I hear about all the time. When I’m out offering people samples, it’s not unusual for parents to take a look at the food and say, “my kid wouldn’t eat that” or “Johnny hates squash”.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that.

I think that parents are often the ones who don’t like the foods, don’t make them, and aren’t willing to give them a chance because they simply believe their kids wouldn’t eat them either. If we want kids to eat smarter, than it’s up to us adults to first change our own attitudes. And that can start with cooking and some creativity. We can involve kids in the kitchen and be open to trying new foods.

Sunday I did just that. I worked with a girl scout troop to make squash and bean burgers. I wanted to do something hands on, colorful, and just a little different. I don’t believe kids should eat boring, bland foods. I certainly don’t like them. Why would they?

It was fun because the girls got to mash up all of their burger ingredients. In went the cooked squash, black beans, quinoa, bread crumbs, onions and garlic.

The breadcrumbs, quinoa, nuts and seeds act as the binder that keeps everything together, while adding extra fiber and protein. Make your own breadcrumbs by grinding stale bread in the food processor, if you have it. And experiment with the seeds and nuts of your choice. The first time i made these I used the squash seeds, but didn’t prefer such a chewy texture in the end. I like the crunch of sunflower seeds better and used those the second time around.

The spices are typical Mexican flavors you’d find in something like tacos – spices you probably already have in your pantry. But these aren’t spicy. Many basic chili powders, are in fact, sweet. A little cayenne powder, or chopped pepper could up the heat for you though.

There are a few ingredients to work with here and maybe it’s more than you’d prefer. But a little planning brings it all together with little extra effort. Roast the squash, cook the quinoa and soak the beans a few days ahead of time, at your convenience. None of these require much attention. Why not prepare some extra while you’re at it?

Cooked squash, grains and beans are good in so many dishes. Having them ready to go at any time makes for quick cooking at any time of day. Or maybe you have leftovers of some or all of these items in your fridge already. Any kind of grain, squash or bean could work in these burgers, so put those leftovers to another use!

After all the mashing, the girls formed their own patties. I let them feel invested in the process and I think because of this they were open to trying the burgers, even though they all said they had never had them before.

Why not try: Making a batch (or two) of these burgers, wrapping them individually and having ready to go in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner any time during the week. Or freeze them to last even longer.

Squash and Bean Burgers

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Yield: 6 + burgers

Roast the squash (step 1) in advance and you’ll have burgers ready to go in no time.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups winter squash, cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed, if not using dried beans)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup nuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil, bake on a sheet in an oven preheated to 425F. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. (Optional: If you’d like to use the squash seeds in the burgers, rinse and clean them then fry in a pan over medium heat with two tablespoons oil until browned. Alternatively, you could use sunflower seeds.)
  2. When cool, peel off the squash skin, cut into pieces and mash in a bowl with the beans. Fold in quinoa, chili powder, cumin, coriander, seeds, nuts and salt.
  3. Lightly sweat the onion – until it breaks down and begins to turn translucent – and garlic in a small pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Fold into the squash mixture with the bread crumbs.
  4. Using your hands, shape into patties.
  5. Add oil to a skillet, heat to medium and fry burgers until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Feast

I learned something important about cooking Thanksgiving dinner the first time I did so for a large crowd five years ago: be realistic and plan ahead. Deciding on a whim to make homemade eggnog the day of may not be the best idea, for instance. Want to brine your turkey? First make sure you have an appropriate container in which to do so. But with more than a week to go there is plenty of time to get on track for a delicious, stress free meal.

If you haven’t already, finalize your menu and recipes this week. Keep in mind what you can find at the farmers market or co-op over the weekend. There is an impressive, beautiful selection of produce, desserts, wines, breads and more available right here in our county. Take advantage of these foods and producers; I’ve learned while traveling and cooking at the holidays that you can’t find such quality and freshness everywhere.

Once you have your menu, recipe and ingredients set, you’re halfway there. Now, just do a little prep each day leading up to the big dinner to avoid a mad scramble on turkey day.

Sunday

Make a list of the tasks and recipes you might be able to prepare over the course of the next few days. Post the list in a visible spot in the kitchen so you can cross each item off as you go and see what still needs to get done.

 

Monday

Today, chop veggies. Look at your recipes and see what you’re going to need. Divide them into resealable plastic bags based on each dish. While you chop, cook your cranberry sauce, which will do fine in the fridge for the next few days.

Cranberry Orange Sauce 

Makes 2 cups

1 pound cranberries
½ cup sugar or maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of cloves, salt and pepper

Combine everything in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the cranberries start to pop, lower the heat, cook another 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.

 

Tuesday

Focus on the stuffing – which if you ask me, is the next best dish after pumpkin pie. I don’t stuff my bird, but rather divide it up into muffin tins for easy to serve, realistic portions. Check your favorite bakery for day old or even pre-cubed bread.

Apple and Onion Stuffing

Makes 10-12 servings

1 stick unsalted butter
4 ribs celery, chopped or 1 large celery root
1 large onion, chopped
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage or poultry seasoning
About 12 cups stale bread, cubed
3 cups broth
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the celery, onion, apple, a pinch of salt and herbs or poultry seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes, until veggies have softened. Pour in broth and toss in the bread and cranberries. Cook another 5 minutes then stir in the egg and parsley. Divide among lightly oiled muffin tins. If preparing ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready, bake covered with foil, for 20 minutes in a 375F preheated oven then another 20 minutes uncovered. They’re done when browned and crispy.

 

Wednesday

If you’re planning to serve turkey tomorrow, get that set now. Clean the bird, season and stuff with aromatics as you like, season the skin, tie it up and set in the roasting pan in the fridge. You want it ready to go in the oven without worrying about details tomorrow.

Then, if you have any sides you could prepare now, do so.

Turnip and Potato Purée

Makes 4-6 servings

1 ½ lbs turnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup milk
Kosher salt
Thyme
Butter (optional)

Cover the turnips, garlic and potatoes in a medium pot over high heat with the milk and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until veggies are tender. Drain and with an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Alternatively, you could mash. Mix in thyme leaves to your liking and melted butter, if you choose. This reheats well in the oven.

 

Thursday

The big day. Your bird should be the priority at this point. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before getting in the oven – this will reduce roasting time and help ensure even cooking. Plan to take it out of the oven at least an hour before guests arrive – giving it time to rest and you time to make gravy, heat up prepared dishes in the oven, and carve the bird. Finish off any quick cooking dishes today as well.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Serves 4

2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped herbs

Over medium high heat, sauté the Brussels sprouts in the olive oil. Cook until just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add ½ cup water to the pan with the lemon zest. Cook until the water has evaporated. Toss in the cheese and herbs.

Originally published in our Harvest Watch column in The Rutland Herald on November 19, 2013.

Barbecue Sliders

Thanksgiving takes first place as the largest food consumption day of the year in the United States. That’s probably no surprise. But any guess what takes second? It’s not Christmas or New Years. It’s Superbowl Sunday.

It’s estimated that on February 2nd more than 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed across the country. That’s about 4 wings for every single American! Ever stop to wonder where the rest of the chicken goes? With factory farms, it’s used for other cuts and purposes, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a small or humane farm selling you a forty pack of wings. It’s just not practical. This Salon article highlights some of the concerns pretty well.

Then there are the 4.4 million take out pizzas that will be sold and the countless bags of chips, bottles of soda and cans of beer. For those who started healthy resolutions for 2014, all that hard work could be undone in one day.

Those statistics make me want to do nothing but get in the kitchen and cook – without any chicken wings in sight. I’ll have chicken another day, thanks. Instead, why not beef sliders? They’re also a good finger food and with a simple homemade barbecue sauce, you’ll get much of the same flavor as wings too.

Let’s start with the sauce. Chances are you have everything you need on hand.

You’ll need onions, garlic, tomato puree or sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard and orange marmalade, if you’d like. These are common barbecue sauce ingredients and you can use my suggested amounts in the recipe below as a guide. The way it’s written will produce a mostly sweet sauce. Increase the amount of hot sauce as you see fit.

I use a combination of tomato sauce (already getting low on my canned supply) and ketchup to get to achieve the consistency I like. The onion gives the sauce some texture too, but you could always puree it if you’d like it smooth.

Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • A few dashes hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon orange marmalade (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  4. Lower the heat and keep at a low simmer 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Taste and add more seasoning as needed. Keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Mixing the barbecue sauce into the ground beef (or other ground meat of your choosing) results in a moist and flavorful burger. If you’re not having a party, these work fine as normal sized burgers rather than the 2 ounce suggestion. In winter I prefer to cook them in a pan on the stove with just a little oil.

For the buns, you could use minis, if you can find them, but you could also just cut out pieces of bread. The top of a small jar makes a great sized cutter. Just toast before using, then place some greens on the bottom bun, like spinach, add your burger then top with cheese, extra sauce and even some bacon for a more unique contribution to the game day party. These would go great with rutabaga fries.

Barbecue Sliders

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 12 sliders

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or pork, chicken or turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 6 ounces grated cheddar
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon (optional)
  • 12 mini buns

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, chili powder, cumin, salt, green onion and barbecue sauce.
  2. Lightly coat a skillet with the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out 2 ounce patties of the beef mix, lightly flattening with your hands before placing in the pan. Cook each patty 2-3 minutes per side, in batches.
  4. When ready to serve, place on a bun, top with cheese and melt under the broiler in the oven.
  5. Top with additional barbecue sauce, bacon, if using, and any other toppings.

Sausage, Barley and Spinach Soup

Friends often ask me how I find the time to cook so much. While I get paid to do so at times, I also make it a priority in my non-work life. That is, when I can actually distinguish the two. Some people spend their evenings at the gym or the pub. I usually spend them in my kitchen. But here’s the thing – I probably cook way less than they imagine.

When I cook, I almost always make meals that go further than just one occasion. I embrace leftovers and usually get at least a lunch or second dinner out of each meal. You might find me almost always enjoying a home cooked meal, but that doesn’t mean I cook up something new every single day.

Soup is the perfect example of winter cooking that really stretches itself during the week. Even if it’s just me I’m cooking dinner for, I’ll make a big pot of soup anyway. If for some reason I realize I won’t finish it all within a few days, I just freeze it. Soup freezes great and will defrost in no time. I’d rather make more than necessary to have ready to go than scramble on busier nights or opt to eat out more often than I can actually afford.

While beef and barley is the classic soup combo, I had some ground sausage hanging out in the freezer and figured it would work just as well. If you have beef, certainly use that here, instead. I started the soup, as most soups start, by browning onions, carrots, garlic and herbs in olive oil. These are the aromatics.

 

I added the sausage and broke it up with a wooden spoon, letting it cook until browned.

Next, I added the barley, letting it sauté for a minute or two. I think barley is excellent in soup. It doesn’t turn mushy or puff up like how most other grains or pasta. Barley maintains a nice chewy texture and adds some heartiness. Try subbing it for other grains in your favorite soups or those soups needing something to make them more filling.

 

Then in went the liquids – broth and crushed tomatoes. I used vegetable broth I already had opened, but beef broth would work too. I also found a couple of turnips hanging out in the fridge that I decided to add in as well. That’s what I love about soups. You really can add in a little of anything. It’s the perfect way to clean up those odds and ends you might have accumulated.

 

After letting the soup simmer a good 30 minutes, I mixed in a few cups of spinach. It’ll cook down a ton, as I always seem surprised to find, so don’t worry if it seems like too much at first. Then, the soup just needed a few minutes more for the spinach to wilt. Before serving, I added a splash of lemon juice for brightness and salt and pepper as needed. Adding acidity like citrus or vinegar at the end of a soup will help bring out the flavors and add a level of freshness.

Sausage, Barley and Spinach Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 lb ground sausage
  • 14 1/2 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups of your favorite broth
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables start to brown and become tender, about 7 minutes or so.
  3. Add in the ground sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Let start to brown for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the barley and let cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Next, pour in the tomatoes, broth, and turnip. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes until the barley and turnips are tender.
  6. A couple minutes before serving, stir in the spinach. Let it wilt, then add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Baked Mac and Sweet Potato

Mac and cheese is a classic, well loved comfort dish and there are countless variations. But no matter what’s in it, I’ve always preferred my mac and cheese to be creamy, yet slightly crispy, from baking. And neither soupy nor dried out.

When made with just pasta and cheese, as it often is, the dish is lacking much in the way of nutritional value. Instead, it’s a high calorie, high fat and high sodium guilty pleasure. I figured there had to be a way to both meet my mac and cheese expectations while turning it into a dish with some redeeming value and without the guilt.

My answer was to cut down on the cheese and add in mashed sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes add creaminess and a vegetable component while making the reduced amount of cheese less apparent. Last week I did something similar when I made butternut squash enchiladas that contained a limited amount of cheese. I adapted (and I’d say improved upon) this recipe from Cooking Light.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cheese. In fact, I could live on cheese and that’s the problem. Being so high in fat and with a serving size at just one ounce, it’s too easy to get carried away. So I look for ways to keep my cheese intake realistic. This may not be the cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever have, but it’s not a bad alternative.
You start by chopping your sweet potatoes and putting them in a medium sized pot.

Add milk, thyme, onion, garlic and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender. Simmering the potatoes right in the milk and broth imparts a ton of flavor, as opposed to just cooking them in water.

When they’re tender, remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Of course, you could transfer the hot contents to a standard blender and puree that way, but you’ll want to be very careful. Or if you don’t have either, you could also just mash it up for a chunkier result. Then add the yogurt, salt, pepper…

and of course, the cheese. I choose Cheddar and Fontina – a creamy, rich Italian cheese that melts well and is popular in fondue. Those just happened to be the cheeses I had at the time, so use what you like. And if you must, increase the amount of cheese.

The sweet potato cheese sauce after everything is melted and combined.

I liked this fun spiral pasta. All of the grooves and twists help capture the sauce.

See? It’s ready for the baking dish.

Every mac and cheese needs some good breadcrumbs on top. I ran some stale bread through the food processor and combined the crumbs with Parmesan and paprika before coating my pasta. Then it baked at 375F for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned.

Mac and Sweet Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 + servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed and peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped Fontina cheese
  • 1 pound spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the sweet potatoes, broth, milk, onion, thyme and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the sweet potato mixture. Add salt, pepper, Cheddar, Fontina and Greek yogurt. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the pasta to the sweet potato mixture and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a large glass or ceramic baking dish.
  6. Combine the breadcrumbs, paprika, and Parmesan and top the mac.
  7. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Anytime Frittata

Frittata. It’s like a omelet, but less French, more Italian and is easier to put together. If you avoid making omelets in fear of unsuccessfully flipping or folding your eggs and having it all fall apart, then the frittata is for you. I like them because you can add whatever you want – seasonal vegetables, any kind of meat and even your leftovers. You can eat them any time of day and any time of year. There’s never really a bad time for a frittata.

minifrit

Did you know you can make a frittata in just one pan? If, like me, you don’t enjoy washing dishes, this is also good news. But, if you’re making brunch for a group, or need something for a potluck, you can make mini frittatas by using muffin tins. I made the mini version (70 of them, to be exact) when I went to speak to a group of Green Mountain Foster Grandparents a couple weeks ago. These dedicated folks spend several hours each week of the school year to help out kids in local schools. How great is that? Fortunately, they liked the frittatas I brought and were not completely bored by my talk! In fact, they had some great questions about local food and cooking.

Anytime Frittata

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces mixed veggies and/or meat, cut into small, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped cheese of your liking

Instructions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add the milk/cream and beat until eggs are a consistent color and are slightly frothy. Stir in the parsley.
  2. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a 8-10 inch, heavy bottomed pan that has been preheated over medium high heat. A cast iron pan is ideal. Add the onion, potato and the additional veggies and meat, if you choose to include. Cook about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through and tender. Increase the heat if needed.
  3. For one large frittata: Preheat the broiler. Remove all but half the cooked veggie/meat combo from the pan and set aside. Melt in the remaining tablespoon of butter then pour in the eggs. Stir for a minute then let the eggs settle in an even layer in the pan. After a couple of minutes, when the eggs start to settle, add the remaining cooked ingredients on top of the eggs, along with the cheese. Place the entire pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the frittata has puffed upped and slightly browned.
  4. For mini frittatas: Preheat the oven to 375F and grease two 12 cup muffin tins. Pour the eggs 3/4 of the way in the tins and then top with your cooked filling ingredients and the cheese. It’s important to put the eggs in the tins first in order to form the shell, otherwise the fillings will fall right out when you remove them from the pan. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until set and puffy.

Rhubarb Chutney

Fact: rhubarb is tart. Lie: In order to enjoy rhubarb we must overwhelm it with sweetness.

While the sweetness of ripe strawberries certainly pairs well with rhubarb, rhubarb can actually be a star all on its own. When I saw the first pink rhubarb stalks of the season a few weeks ago, local strawberries weren’t even ready for bubbling together in a pie. So I wondered what else I could do.

Looking back on other rhubarb recipes that I’ve previously shared, I wasn’t feeling good about the amount of sugar they contained. And I refuse to believe it is necessary. Then I remembered a rhubarb chutney recipe that Joann, our bookkeeper at RAFFL, shared a couple of years ago. Sadly, Joann will soon be leaving us and moving on, so I thought now was a good time to revisit her rhubarb chutney. Now I just need to figure out who will appreciate my sense of humor when she’s gone.

rhub

Since I didn’t get a chance to make Joann’s chutney at the time of posting (it was winter), I was excited to give it a try this spring and find that I was right – rhubarb doesn’t need to rely only on sweetness to taste good. I made a few adjustments to her recipe, like adding in orange zest and juice and replacing the sugar with honey, and I liked the results.

In this chutney, the rhubarb is sliced into pieces and sauteed along with chopped red onion. Before long, the rhubarb starts to break down and release its juices while the onion becomes tender.

The chutney gets a good kick of flavor from ginger and garlic, one of my favorite seasoning combos. A splash of cider vinegar and honey help round it out. I think rhubarb does need some sweetness, but it shouldn’t be overpowering. I think the mildness of honey helps solve my over sweet rhubarb frustration.

chutney

The result is part sauce, part condiment that can be paired with pork, fish and poultry or simply over toasted bread with melted cheese. But if you are looking for a sweet rhubarb idea, try this frozen yogurt or this compote.

 

Rhubarb Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rhubarb
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 orange

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the rhubarb into half inch pieces. Roughly chop the onion.
  2. Heat a pan over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rhubarb and onion and let cook until rhubarb has softened and released its juices and the onion is tender. About 10 minutes.
  3. While that cooks, grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Add to the pan when ready to go.
  4. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the honey, vinegar and raisins. Taste and season with salt as you see fit. After 5 more minutes of simmering, add the zest and juice of the orange. Stir. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken.

Tomato Basil Chutney

Have you ever noticed that the right condiment or sauce can transform an average dish into a great dish? That’s the case with this tomato chutney. The concept of chutney, similar to relish and savory jam, derives from India where chutneys are made of fruit, spices and vinegar for preservation.

 

chutney
They can be either sweet or hot but are almost always savory. This tomato chutney leans toward the sweet side while the ginger provides just a faint sense of spice. Use this recipe as a guide then try increasing the amount of ginger or adding a little heat with hot sauce, cayenne or chili powder. I like the earthiness of the basil when added in just towards the end of simmering. Basil and tomatoes embody the taste of summer for me.

IMG_0052

What does one do with chutney? You can serve it like they do in India – with curry – or with cheese and crackers, spoon some over a piece of meat, use it in place of ketchup, or mix into cream cheese, mayo, or yogurt to create a spread. I served this chutney with zucchini chard pancakes and it provided some of the expected sweetness you’d often receive from maple syrup. Without it, the pancakes would be pretty average and incomplete. Together, they hit on all the right notes.

 

Tomato Basil Chutney

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup chutney

sliced cherries

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 large basil leaves, shredded

cherry tomatoes

 

Wash, slice and destem your tomatoes. I used cherry, but any kind will do. Cherry are just slightly less work, I think, as you can just slice them in half. We’re leaving on the skins and seeds here for texture.

In a pot, combine the tomatoes with the onion and garlic. Let this cook down, about 8 minutes. Then add in the flavorings – the salt, ginger, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Continue simmering over low heat until everything has broken down and started to form a sauce. If you find you have too much liquid, continue simmering another few minutes. Stir in the basil right at towards the end of cooking, then adjust the seasoning as you like and serve either warm or at room temp.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

I realized earlier this summer that I needed to do some planning ahead. These meatballs were one tactic. Last month, I baked up a large batch and then popped them in the freezer for a quick protein addition for a variety of meals.

I used half ground beef and half ground sausage, which is not entirely the meatball norm, but what I think really makes these stand out is the large amount of fresh herbs.

Basil, parsley and oregano were my choice at the time. Thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel and even mint, could all be interesting though. You might just need to adjust the amount of herbs depending on what you go with. The amount I suggest in the recipe is based on larger leafy herbs like parsley and basil. Use more or less, to your liking.

I started by sauteing some onion with garlic and red pepper flakes.

meatball-mix

Then mixed that together with the ground meat, chopped herbs, plenty of grated Parmesan, an egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the spoon pictured here, meatballs are meant to be mixed and formed by hand. Just wash your hands well before and after handling the meat to avoid contaminating anything. Coating your hands in a little oil before rolling the meatballs could help prevent the meat from sticking to you.

meatballs

I rolled them out just larger than the size of golf balls and browned them in the oven. Once cooled, I slid the whole tray into the freezer. Freezing them separately at first, then transporting them to a freezer bag ensured they didn’t all stick together and that I could easily take just a few out as needed. After I take them out of the freezer, I make sure to cook finish cooking them through, as I was only looking to brown them at first.

How do I use the meatballs? If I remember, I transfer a few from the freezer to the fridge earlier in the day to defrost. A few times, I’ve braised a few in a little broth, thickened the broth to make a sauce, and served them with vegetables and a grain. Or, I’ve gone the traditional route and simmered them in tomato sauce to toss with pasta. I’m craving a meatball sandwich right now, so maybe that’s my next use. No matter what, I’ve saved myself some time trying to put together a balanced meal.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 – 25 meatballs

 Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint and oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A splash of milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meat, egg, herbs, Parmesan, bread, milk, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently, but thoroughly, combine it all together. It should be very moist. If not, add just a tiny bit more milk. Return your pan to the stove and place a small piece of the meat mixture in the pan to cook through. Taste and adjust the meat seasoning, as needed.
  4. Roll pieces of the meat into balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Space them out on a baking sheet. If it’s lined with parchment paper, all the better. You’ll need at least two sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the pans cool, then place in the freezer until frozen through. You could place them on a large plate or platter, if that works better for you. When frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags, seal, and use within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, ensure that the meatballs are heated well and cooked through.

Corn and Bacon Sauté

We kicked off the expansion of Farm Fresh Connect, our local, online farmers market, to the communities of Pittsford and Chittenden last week. We’re pumped to make local food more accessible in these two Vermont towns, both of which have limited shopping opportunities – particularly for locally grown and produced food.
While the pickup of market orders happens at elementary schools in both towns, anyone in either community – whether they work or live nearby – is open to shopping on Farm Fresh Connect.

As part of the promotion of Farm Fresh Connect, at Wednesday pick ups between 3 & 5pm, we’re offering tastings of dishes made with items found on the market. Last week, it was this simple  corn and bacon sauté.

Sweet corn and smoky bacon are just meant to be paired together, which is why I love to start a pot of corn chowder with the fat left behind after cooking bacon. I add in a little zucchini and jalapeno,  if inclined, but almost always include basil. Thyme would work nicely as well.

The result is an excellent side dish for encapsulating the fleeting tastes of summer, though I’ve had a whole bowl as my entire dinner, too.

Hope to see you at one of our market pick-ups!

Corn and Bacon Sauté

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, as a side

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 5 ears corn, husked
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small jalapeno (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop the bacon into a small dice. In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, watching closely to avoid burning. When crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Slice the kernels off the corn cobs. A good way to do this is to invert a small bowl inside of a larger bowl and stand the cob on the small bowl. As you slice, the kernels will fall into the large bowl. Then, chop the onion and zucchini into a small dice. If using the jalapeno, remove the seeds and chop as well.
  3. Return the pan with the bacon grease to the heat and add the corn, onion, zucchini and optional jalapeno. Cook 8-10 minutes until the pan is dry and vegetables tender.
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