Monday, December 30, 2013

Italian Greens & Beans

Spending a week back in Youngstown and being in the off-season at Nalls means I've gotten to spend a lot of time back in the kitchen, and what is cooking in my kitchen has been LOTS of Italian food.  As I've said before, neither of us have a lick of Italian in us, but growing up where we did, you essentially become Mediterranean by association.  So one of my hometown favorites I got to eat over the holidays was Italian Greens & Beans.  And while I was eating it, an epiphany, a delicious epiphany...there's no reason I can't make this on my own, AND this would make a perfect Crop Share recipe for all the greens we get.  BINGO!  So over this dreary weekend, I whipped up a batch of this loveliness, and this will definitely be going into heavy rotation any time we get greens in the Crop Share.  Traditionally this is made with escarole, but any greens will do.  So if you're burnt out on Kale Chips or flummoxed by collards, this is an easy, quick, versatile, and nutrient packed dish that's sure to please!

Italian Greens & Beans

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, diced
7 cups greens (I used a mix of spinach, baby chard and baby bok choy, but you can also use escarole, kale, collards, or Swiss chard, just remove larger leaves from the stems)
1/2 cup red wine (I used a pinot noir.  Avoid any sweet reds)
19 oz cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
3/4 cup marinara sauce
Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
Dash or two of red pepper flakes, optional

In a large skillet, heat oil over high medium high heat.  Add in garlic and onion and saute until translucent.  Add in greens, and you may have to add them in batches to allow them to wilt down to make room for the rest.  Cook until greens are fully wilted.  Add in wine, and simmer for an additional minute or two.  Stir in beans and marinara, and then add your salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Stir to fully combine, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Taste sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary.

This is great as a side dish, or toss it with some pasta for a vegetarian main dish.  Or throw in some chicken or shrimp for added protein.  We ate ours as a side, and then the leftovers got re-heated in a skillet with some leftover shrimp from shrimp cocktail, and then we tossed it with some gluten-free pasta.

Vegan Creamy Dill Dip

Rarely do I snack on chips (now chocolate chips, that's another story), and if they're at a party I tend to pass them by.  Unless...there's dip.  I could eat onion chip dip by the spoonful, right out of the container and only feel a twinge of shame.  Just a twinge.  So when I married the Mister and his dairy allergy, store bought chip dips were right out.  Ah, but I could still dip away at parties!  Until I had to go gluten free, and that glorious onion dip was now on the no list.  Really, gluten, you have no business in my chip dip!  So while we were back in Ohio over the holidays, I concocted this little number that was so addictive, my Mama, my Gram and I sat around eating it while everyone else ate their dessert on Christmas.  My recipe calls for the use of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Tofutti Sour Supreme (both can be found at the Giant), and while as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of all things sour cream and cream cheese I give these two thumbs up, if you prefer to not use the faux stuff, you can absolutely use regular cream cheese and sour cream.  Lighten it up with reduced fat sour cream and Neufchatel (a third less fat than regular cream cheese), just beware with the reduced fat sour cream you'll have more water content so you may need to add a little less sour cream to help maintain the dip consistency.

Vegan Creamy Dill Dip

16 oz Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
10 oz Tofutti Sour Supreme
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 bundle green onions, ends trimmed, and diced down to white part
3 Tbsp dill (fresh or dried, either will work)
pinch salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

In a medium sized bowl, whip together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and creamy.  Fold in remaining ingredients and stir until fully combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving to allow flavors to mingle and for dip to firm up.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Great to make a day in advance, as the longer this dip sits, the better it tastes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Crop Share Family!

I'm sitting here back in Ohio with 1 hour to go till my family's Christmas Eve dinner kicks off.  The rest of the Nalls crew has wrapped up for 2013 and are headed home to their families.  All is as it should be today.

There's no way to think about the holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate or don't celebrate, and not have your thoughts turn to family.  Some of us may be be celebrating this season with some empty seats at our tables, and some of us may have had to make room for more.  Either way, these are the times to hold the folks we love close, whether they are related to us by blood or are friends who are more like family than our own relatives.  Memories, traditions and love are what make these times so special.  It's how we honor those who used to occupy those empty seats, and it's how we give those intangible gifts to those who've we've made room for around the table.

So while I get misty eyed and think about my family, those that are here, and those that are the dearly departed, I wonder, what are the traditions and memories of the rest of the Crop Share family?  Since so many of them undoubtedly center around food, I'd love to know what are those special recipes that just always bring back a flood of memories?  Send your recipes, ramblings, musings, what have you to and I'll share them here.

Seeing as I'm from a city that is almost exclusively Greek, Italian, Irish and Slovak, those 4 ethnicities influence how we all eat and celebrate.  And though neither my family nor the Mister's family has a lick of Italian in them, it's just not Christmas in Youngstown until someone makes Italian Wedding Soup.

Heaven in a bowl!

Usually it's one of our family friends who actually is Italian, but this year, my mother-in-law got a hold of her best friend's recipe (who is Italian and has a large family to impress with her cooking) and she made a big batch of Wedding Soup that was egg, dairy & gluten free (I now have the recipe, so look for that soon on here)!  My mother-in-law is a goddess!  And last night my parents were busy whipping up a batch of their homemade stuffing that is now proudly also dairy, egg and gluten-free.  Both families have added an extra seat at their table over the past 3 years, and both have just gone above and beyond to accommodate the Mister's and my crazy food allergies.  So while our families' respective holidays look a tad different than they used to, we can all agree they just keep getting better and better, new traditions are made, and our bonds of love grow stronger.

So from our Nalls Produce family, we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and much joy in the New Year!  We'll hope to see you all back the first weekend in January for the start of our Deep Winter Crop Share.  Until then, I leave you with this little gem...

When I go to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, I go ALL out!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gettin' Sauced: Homemade Cran-Applesauce

After last week's medley of fantastic baking apples, and with the hoard that was growing in my fruit bowl, I knew another batch of homemade applesauce was needed, stat!  In the last Crop Share spoiler e-mail I mentioned I was drooling over the idea of a cranberry applesauce, and tonight I finally had the chance to bring that drool-worthy dream to life.  And oh honey is it goooooooooood!  Next time I may opt to add a generous splash of vanilla, just because, but it doesn't even need it.  Cran-Applesauce, you are perfect...just the way you are.

Homemade Cran-Applesauce


8-9 apples, peeled, cored and cubed (assorted varieties work best, I had 5 Pink Lady and 4 Rome apples -- which I just learned, originated in my home state of Ohio...O-H-)
1 heaping cup of fresh cranberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup water (mine was more on the 3/4 side as I knew the Rome's weren't going to be overly juicy)
1/4 cup local honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a Dutch oven add in cubed apples, cranberries, water, and honey.  Give it a few stirs to evenly coat everything and then cover the pot and place it into the oven at 350 for about an hour.  You'll want to check it a few times and stir it just to make sure the apples and cranberries on the bottom aren't scorching.

After an hour has passed, give it a check and if they're looking nice and saucy, remove from oven and give it a good whisk just to break up some of the larger chunks and make sure that all of the cranberries have burst.  Taste and adjust with additional honey if you need it (mine was the perfect combo of sweet and tart with no addition needed).

Serve warm or allow to cool before placing in an air tight jar for use over the next few days.  My batch made a whole quart plus about 3/4 of a pint.

Penne With Spicy Greens & Sausage

Do you see a theme this week?  Sausage & greens!  Ha!  I don't know what it is, but hot Italian turkey sausage and some form of greens are a magical combination in my book.  So last night when I got home from a chilly day at work (and learned that yes, I have holes in both of my boots, ergh!) all I wanted was a big plate of carbs and heat.  So out came the rest of last week's kale, the McCauley's Pepper Relish (original, mild and hot available in store), and some turkey sausage and dinner was born.  Is this pretty much like the Spaghetti with Broccoli, Sausage & Hot Peppers?  Yes.  But why stop a good thing?  And, in fact, the Mister and I like this even better than the version with broccoli, so much so that he's requested it again once we get this week's collard greens.  So whether you're using up the kale from last week, plowing through the collards from this week, or you've got spinach or swiss chard on hand, this dish works fantastic with any leafy green.  And the more greens the better!  You want the dish to be mostly greens, with the crumbled turkey sausage in second, and then with the penne coming in third.  Or forget the pasta and stuff this filling into two halves of some acorn squash, for even more veggie madness!

Penne With Spicy Greens & Sausage

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
5 hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
Half a bundle of collards, kale or swiss chard, or a full bundle of spinach, rinsed and rough chopped
1/4 reduced sodium chicken stock or dry white wine
1 Tbsp (heaping - or less for not as much heat) McCauley's Roasted Pepper Relish (in store!)
12 oz penne pasta, cooked to package directions (I use Bio-Nature brand for gluten free and it's not gummy at all!  LOVE!)

Cook pasta per package directions and meanwhile...

In a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add in turkey sausage, casing removed and crumble as much as possible.  You'll need to break the bits up with your saute spoon as it cooks.  Cook until meat is browned and cooked through.  Stir in pepper relish (can use less to reduce the heat), and cook to heat through, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Deglaze pan with chicken stock or white wine and stir to scrape any browned bit off of the bottom of the pan.  Stir in chopped greens -- you may have to add them in batches and let them simmer down before adding more so you have enough room for everyone.  Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until greens are fully wilted.  Remove from heat, add in pasta and toss to evenly coat.  Finish with an extra glug of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking, and toss again before serving.

Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Turkey Sausage

That Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup is hands-down my go-to soup.  But a few weeks ago, I decided to mix it up a bit and try it with sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes.  The result was a delicious and comforting taste of Fall that I swear kept getting better as we ate our way through the leftovers.  So this is the perfect make ahead soup as it really does get better the longer everything has to marinate in its own loveliness.  And since kale and collards are pretty interchangeable, you'll be able to use up this week's sweet potatoes, collards and yellow onion in one dish!  Just what all of this cold weather calls for...HOT SOUP!

Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Turkey Sausage

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
6 links turkey sausage (hot or sweet depending on your heat preference), casings removed and meat crumbled
2 - 32 oz containers of reduced sodium chicken stock
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
1 bundle collard greens or kale, leaves stripped from stalks and roughly chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.  Add in turkey sausage and stir to continue to crumble.  Increase heat and cook until sausage is cooked through and browned.  Deglaze pan with a bit of the chicken stock and stir to get any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Add in the rest of your stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat but still keep liquid at a vigorous simmer and add in your sweet potatoes.  Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add in chopped greens.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes and then remove pot from heat to allow soup to finish setting up and cool slightly.  Taste broth and season with additional salt & pepper, if needed.

Friday, December 6, 2013

We're Sprouting Up At Union Market DC!

We're excited to announce that starting this weekend, we'll be sprouting up at Union Market DC as their pop-up Christmas tree vendor for the month of December!  We'll be there Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas offering a gorgeous selection of fresh cut, East Coast sourced, Fraser Fir trees.  So, if you're in the District stop by and say "hi" to our crew!  

Haven't been to Union Market yet?  Then as foodies, it's a pilgrimage you NEED to make.  I finally made it up there this week when we went to deliver all the paperwork and make it official, and man did I have food A.D.D. the minute I walked in.  The teas from Pearl Fine Teas are exquisite, the blonde chocolates at Co Co. Sala are like caramelly-chocolately nibs of deliciousness, and be warned, if you even walk near Salt & Sundry you will want to max out your credit card.  And don't even get me started on the soul-killing pain of knowing that I can't eat any of the fusion delights at Takorean.  Curse you gluten-hating immune system!!!  Oh and if you're a fan of the dairy that we carry (ooo, a rhyme!) from Trickling Springs Creamery, then hold onto your hat because they have a permanent stall...AND...they make milkshakes!  *gasp*  So, to say I'm peeing-my-pants excited that Nalls gets to be a part of all of this for the month of December is a vast understatement.  Feel free to send me super-sized Depends, I need them!

Plus, this is sort of a return to our roots, because way back when our owner, Cary, was carting veggies into the city to sell as wholesale, he was selling at the original Union Market.  It looks a lot different than it used to (but then again, so do we!), but the building you see above that houses the revamped market was the original produce wholesale building.  So we've come full circle, and we're excited to celebrate our return to some old stomping grounds!  We're baaaaaaaaack!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Getting 'Snippy: Baked Parsnip Fries

I'm slightly obsessed with French fries and turning random vegetables into types of fries.  So last year when I received parsnips for the very first time I thought...let's make this into a fry!  Best idea ever!  Parsnips are pretty interchangeable with potatoes, so they work incredibly well as fries, plus they have that little parsnip umph that gives it something a potato can't.  So if this is your first encounter with parsnips...put a fry on it!

Baked Parsnip Fries

2-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into French fry pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
Garlic powder, Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste (Sprinkle on about 1 Tbsp of fresh rosemary for a fragrant kick!)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss parsnips in olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings to evenly coat.  Spread evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.  Turn parsnips to allow to brown on all sides and roast for an additional 10 minutes or until they look nice and golden brown.

Serve with a sriracha mayo dipping sauce (mayo, garlic powder and sriracha all mixed up to taste), or get your hands on some Black Truffle Salt from Spice & Tea Exchange in Old Town and combine that with some mayo, a titch of olive oil and rosemary for a sinfully decadent dip.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

When it comes to squash, The Mister is highly skeptical.  It's probably due to one memorable in a not-so-good-way faux alfredo sauce that used pureed squash rather than any cream or cheese.  In theory it should have been delicious, in reality the only way we could eat it was to slather it with hot sauce.  Yes, it was that gross.  So I've had to slowly win him back over to the world of squash.  And the one dish that finally did it was Maple Roasted Acorn Squash.  The sugar in the maple syrup and the natural sugars in the squash meld together and caramelize to essentially candy the squash, and it is DE-LISH!  You don't even need to skin the squash as it gets nice and soft.  I made this as a side dish to some baked chicken, and it was so good, I sliced up another acorn squash so we'd have plenty of leftovers!  So put down the pancakes and pick up the acorn squash, as maple syrup has a new BFF!

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, halved, seeds scooped out and sliced into 1/2" wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Pinch or two coarse ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss acorn squash in olive oil and maple syrup, spread evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle pepper evenly over top.  Roast for 20-30 minutes until squash is soft and is starting to turn golden brown.

Serve as a side dish to fish or poultry, or toss with a fresh kale salad (massage that kale!!) with a light vinaigrette and some pomegranate seeds.

Feelin' Apple-Saucy!

So if you're like me, you just now polished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.  And now I feel like all I should exist on is lettuce, air and water.  That container of chocolate frosting probably didn't help matters, but hey, it's also my birthday week (in fact, it's my birthday today, the big 3-2!) so it was necessary.  So with the double dip of fruit in this week's share, I think it calls for some sort of homemade applesauce.  We have a great base recipe for Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce that is sweetened with only the natural sweetness of the apples and 1/4 cup of local honey.  No other added sugar and the only other ingredients are water and cinnamon.  Four ingredient magic!  So I'm thinking of doing a little saucy experimentation and using the mixture of baking apples this week for some blended flavor applesauce.  We're also getting tangelos, so maybe I'll throw in some nutmeg, ground clove and some tangelo peel and the juice of 1 (I'll reduce the amount of honey to probably an 1/8 cup) to make a Citrus Spiced Applesauce.  But I keep eyeing the cranberries in the store, so I'm also thinking of tossing a handful to maybe a 1/2 cup of cranberries into the mix, holding the cinnamon and making a Cran-Applesauce!  So many possibilities!

Who's up for the challenge of concocting a fun applesauce blend?  If you come up with your own based off of our original recipe, e-mail your recipe our way to and we'll feature it here!

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce