It’s a warm summer day, and my nephew has come over to hang out. He is definitely a picky eater. Doesn’t eat alot and is distracted by childhood play. He loved sushi when he was young. He would always talk about pumpkin sushi. I never tried it but he would rave about it, even at the young age of 3. But despite all this talking about food, he never really ate much or enjoyed eating. Now, he is definitely growing a more refined sophisticated palate but talks about food in a way that makes me think he would try something new and different.
So our task for today is to make a healthy, quick, tasty dish that can satisfy my nephew’s palate and also ours. At home, we prepare meals based on what we have available. We definitely buy items based on what we want to cook. But if I want to make a pasta dish that includes maybe spinach and parmesan but I only have kale, I’ll substitute. Say I have no parmesan cheese at home but I have Asiago, then that’ll do. Waste not want not. Ingredients do make the dish and any herbs and spices you add can transform a dish to your liking.
So, using what we had from our weekly Hilltop Hanover Farm share and items in our fridge and pantry… Green garden pesto emerged. We were running low on time and within 20 minutes, lunch was on the table. And by the looks of the bowls, we all LOVED it. Easy, simple,resourceful, yummy!
- Box of whole wheat penne pasta(or any shape you like).
- One large garlic scape and one long shallot flower including green stem(sub with two cloves garlic and one shallot).
- 4-5 sun dried tomatoes
- 5-6 lacinato kale leaves (use any green leaf- spinach is great here)
- 1 lb of boneless chicken thighs chopped into 1 inch pieces.
- 1/4- 1/2 cup of heavy cream/half half or whole milk
- 1 cup of Asiago cheese( you can sub for parmesan cheese)
- fresh oregano( optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- Boil pasta according to box directions.
- Chop sun dried tomatoes into thin strips.
- Finely chop garlic scapes and shallot flowers.
- Peel the kale leaves off the rib
- Roll the leaves together and finely chop the leaves to get a ribbon like appearance.
- On a separate cutting board ( you may use the same one if you are done with all the vegetable prepping). cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
- Pour 2-3 tbsp of oil in to pan. Place pan on medium heat on stove. Add shallot flowers and garlic scape to pan and stir to saute. Add a few pinches of salt.
- Add sun dried tomatoes and stir to saute.Add 2 dashes of paprika. This is more for color and a smoky flavor(perfectly optional)
- After this is softened, add the chicken to pan.
- Saute chicken until is white on the outside and it is more seared . Note: If the pan is not hot enough, the chicken will boil/steam rather than sear. this should take 5-7 minutes to cook completely.
- Add chopped kale, stir for 30 seconds.
- Add fresh oregano( optional). You may chop the leaves or just pull some off from stem and throw into dish.
- Add 3/4 cup of Asiago cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add milk( If you add cream, you get a thicker sauce). I had milk and so used that.
- Add pasta. Stir completely. Close with lid, place on low-medium heat for another 10 minutes. When done. stir one last time.
- Serve pasta dish in bowl and sprinkle some Asiago cheese on top. Enjoy!
The best recipes are the ones you take a risk on and they pay off big time. A CSA farm share can bring an abundance of produce. As I’ve said before, sometimes, you’re like, ” what? more kale, more mizuna…” A food processor can be your best friend. I showed you last week my recipe for APP bitter green pesto. I use it in pastas and ground turkey etc. But in chicken curry? Yep.
Most people have had some exposure to Indian foods but usually it’s the typical chicken tikka masala that’s loaded in cream and butter and not very nutritious, although very delicious. Indian food is so diverse. It’s like if you only had southern food(fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese) and you thought that is what American food is. There’s so much to American cuisine. Similarly, there are so many great dishes that come out of India but most people don’t have the opportunity to try them.
A traditional northern Indian curry is called Haryali chicken. Hari means green in Hindi. The green comes from mint and coriander which adds so much depth of flavor and aromas to the dish that my mouth is watering, just writing about it. My version of Haryali chicken is just as deep in flavor but packs a nutritious punch. My husband who is always suspicious of “new” types of chicken curry, adores this healthy delicious version(bitter greens are used but this curry is far from bitter). A must try!
great tomato substitute
1/2 cup of APP bitter green pesto
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves/1 long garlic scape
2 inches of ginger( finely chopped/grated)
2 chili peppers( optional)
5 -6 curry leaves
1 tomato( chopped) or Cento double concentrated organic tomato paste (1 tbsp)
EVOO/coconut oil -3 tbsp
1 pasture raised whole chicken- cut into small pieces( typical in Indian curries, approx 4 inch pieces)
winner winner chicken dinner!
- In a heavy bottomed pan, saute chopped onions, garlic and ginger in oil.
- Add sprinkle of salt to help with browning.
- As the mixture begins to soften, add curry leaves and chili peppers stir to saute.
- Add 1-2 tsp of salt( to taste). 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 2 tsp of coriander powder, 2 tsp of chili powder.(The chili powder’s heat depends on the type of chili used to make the powder. If you know you can tolerate/enjoy heat,then go ahead. If you know you can’t, then add just a pinch or so for color or just add some paprika which adds color and smoky flavor with less heat).
- When the onion mixture is cooked down and spices are roasted well, add tomato(paste). Stir well.
- Once that mixture is cooked down, add chicken. Stir and saute and mix well. Close with lid and let cook for the next 10 minutes.
- I have found whole chicken to have the most flavor. The bones give the curry just what it needs. I find that pasture-raised meat not only tastes better but also cooks faster.
- After 15 minutes, lift the lid, stir and add 1/2 cup of the APP pesto. Add more as you wish. Adding mint leaves and coriander leaves to this pesto add so much flavor. If I have those herbs at home, I use. If not, it tastes great without.
- Add 1 tbsp of garam masala. Garam masala means warm mixture. That’s what it is, roasted whole spices that are then ground up. I make my own but there are many that are great that are store bought. There are many great brands, but this is one I have used before. If you don’t make Indian food as often as I do, then store bought makes more sense, but the flavor of home roasted spices is incomparable. ( will post my recipe for homemade garam masala later.)
- Stir and let cook with the pesto and garam masala with lid on on medium heat for another 10 minutes or so.
- Enjoy this thick luscious, healthy, green( haryali) chicken curry with rice, quinoa, chapati/nan. YUM!
- A great vegan/vegetarian option to this that I have tried is to add this pesto to chickpeas. It packs a punch and contains no meat.
Living in a home where everyone in the household needs or wants to eat something different on a daily basis can be a daunting task. Making sure all meals are healthy(-ish) is just as difficult. Using all the greens that come in your weekly share is tricky… now, really, how many greens can you eat in a day and how many ways can you prepare them?
So, this week’s CSA share included red mustard greens, mizuna, garlic scape and shallot flowers etc. Mizuna is an Asian mustard green that can be used in stir fry or eaten raw in salad. Mizuna is almost always found in the swap box. People don’t like it or just don’t know to use it.
I have learned to appreciate the art of pesto making through my weekly share of the many bitter greens. Pesto can come in many forms, but it’s usually basil pulsed in a food processor with garlic, nuts, EVOO and Parmesan cheese. I make pesto with whatever greens I have at home and use it in pastas, rice, ground turkey and now….chicken curry. I usually don’t add nuts or cheese because that can’t cause it go rancid quicker. If I want cheese or nuts in pesto, I can always add later. You can make YOUR own rules around food, it’s what works for you and your family. Cooking should not be a task that becomes burdensome. If you have it at home, you can make into something delicious. All you need is a stocked spice box. The right spices can transform any dish.
Bitter Green Pesto
- 2 bunches of mizuna
- 5-6 pieces of red mustard greens
- garlic scapes (2-3 stalks)
- salt to taste
- chili pepper( jalapeño or other preferred) optional
- Chop off the ends of the mizuna bunch, maybe 1-2 inches from root end.
- Wash mizuna, red mustard greens( 5-6 pieces) , and garlic scape(2-3) . Vegetables from local organic CSA shares are the healthiest and tastiest but can also be dirtiest. Welcome to the CSA life.. lots of dirt!
- In a food processor, place mizuna, drizzle EVOO as you process the mizuna, then slowly add the mustard greens, garlic scapes, 1 tsp of salt( to taste, you can always add more later), pepper. If you want extra heat( I always do), add a chili pepper, you could add half a jalapeño. Go as mild or as bold as you like…
- Pulse in the processor ensuring it has a pesto consistency, drizzling in olive oil as needed( approx. 3/4 cup).
This will yield you maybe a 1.5 cups of pesto. You could add mint or cilantro to this making it even more aromatic and flavorful. I use it if i have it.
I fell into cooking because of my love of food. I look to recipes for inspiration and then I play with what I have. When you join a CSA from a local farm, you sink or swim. I sank the first year. Drowned in a sea of vegetables, most of which I had never eaten and could not wrap my brain around neither cooking nor eating.
After a few years of treading the CSA waters, I have learned to be creative. Now, we are floating and even incorporating some new swimming techniques in the CSA waters. The CSA has allowed for me and my daughters to be connected on this. We go pick up the share together. We appreciate the value of this…TOGETHER.
Today’s the first day of summer vacation, Erica woke up wanting to eat pancakes. I thought, no way, let’s eat eggs. She came up with eggs but wanted to add sausage. I told her to throw some rainbow swiss chard in there. Sounds crazy but it’s like putting spinach in your eggs. Chop it finely, you barely taste it. Sausage &eggs from a local farm, swiss chard from local farm CSA. Local eating= good eating.
For lunch, it’ll be leftover sausage-swiss chard saute with quinoa which will go into peppers. Bake. Eat. Enjoy!
- 2 tbsp ghee(clarified butter) in a saute pan( If you want it to be vegan use coconut or olive oil. I used ghee because I had some and it was almost finished, so trying to finish it up 🙂
- Saute half a cup of onions( I used leeks because I had but usually I use red onions). Chop three small cloves garlic( you can use garlic scapes which I get from my CSA) and add to onions once softened in oil. Add tsp of salt to wilt onions and garlic quicker.
- Saute swiss chard( I used maybe 2 bunches- 6 whole pieces). Add cooked sausage(cooked from the morning). Add 1/2 to 1 cup quinoa to ensure the quinoa adds to the substance of the stuffing, so the pepper stays stuffed. ( Eyeballing)
- Add pepper to taste and maybe another tsp of salt( but really to taste). I had arrabiata(spicy Italian seasoning) so I put in a 1/2 tbsp. to this as well. ( See I use what I have).
- Cut tops off peppers and make cups/boats . Boats are peppers cut lengthwise(see pic below)/
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place peppers on sheet tray with foil coated with olive oil.
- Fill pepper boats with stuffing.
- Place in oven 15-20 minutes.
Navigating this new world that connects people through technology while leaving us disconnected as a working mom, high school science teacher has been no less than challenging. As a high school teacher, I thought I know what to do to stay connected and transparent with my children. I do this for a living. However, I find myself losing at this as I am drowning in the sea of social media and the race to nowhere.
My 13 year old and I LOVE FOOD. We love to eat, buy, cook all types of food. I don’t know if I nurtured this in her, or we both, just had this passion for it. She has a killer palate. She can smell and taste things in food, that sometimes, I can’t even figure out. My 16 year old is also into food and culture. She savors the history behind cuisine and culture.
So, how do I stay connected and grounded with my kids, using technology as a tool and food as a muse? So here we are… OOH-MOM-ME. The name says it all! You will experience foods that are cooked using local farm ingredients and from cultures all over the world jam packed with flavor. Umami (ooh-mom-me) itself is one of the unique tastes that we experience. The recipes will be pretty simple and easy, because that will allow us to enjoy the foods prepared while not overwhelming us.
Living in NY has allowed me to join a CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) and access to many local farms and purveyors helping us as a family to understand the seasonality of produce and the value of organically farmed ingredients.
We want to share our experiences as a family with food, farms, fitness, fellowship and fun with you. Just as our food is, our posts will also be organic. It’ll be what the day brings us. It may be a post by us individually or collaboratively. It may include the history(political, cultural, etc.) behind a certain food that we prepare. It may just be photos of foods we happened upon that given that day that gave us joy. Join us on this joyful culinary journey. Stay connected. Stay kind.