Tag Archive for: Pepper/Chile

Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles Ready for Salt

Fresh Mint Taste All Year

Lime and mint are not usually thought of together (if at all) in combination with pickles, but they should be! The lime-mint flavors work together with the cucumbers to make something much more than the sum of their parts – bright, refreshing, and absolutely addictively delicious. 

Even after a year in the freezer the mint tastes fresh-picked. 

Similar to our much-beloved Cilantro Freezer Pickles, this is a very simple and fast recipe that doesn’t need canning or heat and will handle any amount of surplus cucumbers – from a few up to way too many! 

Each recipe makes about 4 pints, so you can expand accordingly.

Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles
Prep Time
15 mins

Another freezer pickle recipe that keeps the fresh-picked flavors long after the season is gone. 

Quick, easy, and addictively delicious, the lime and mint work with the cucumber to create something amazing. 

Course: Appetizer
Keyword: freezer pickles
  • 2 1/2 lbs pickling cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs pickling salt Kosher salt works and tastes great
  • 1/2 cup mild onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small sweet pepper chopped
  • 1 lime zest grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves minced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar organic cane sugar gives a more rounded flavor
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar red wine or cider gives different flavors
  1. Wash and thinly slice cucumbers – do not peel, then thinly slice onions.

    Toss cucumbers and onions in a large bowl with salt, mixing well to evenly distribute the salt. Let stand at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours, then drain excess liquid but do not rinse.

    Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, mix well and pour over vegetables, stirring well to mix. Refrigerate for 8 – 10 hours or overnight. 

    Pack the vegetables and brine in freezer-proof rigid containers and freeze. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion so the jars don’t break.

    When packing the vegetables, make sure the brine completely covers them to prevent freezer burn and ensure the best flavors.

    Freeze for a minimum of 2 weeks to allow the flavors to mature and mingle.

    To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

We use a Cuisinart or similar kitchen appliance to slice the vegetables – reducing our prep time to a few minutes. 

Make the pickles according to the recipe, then experiment and use different ingredients to suit your tastes or the occasion. Try sweet onions, more pepper, lime, or mint for a more intense flavor. Different sugars have a different effect on the final flavor – try palm sugar, turbinado, or even a little brown sugar to the mix. Same with the vinegar – find which one you like best! 

Making Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles

Start by slicing the vegetables… 

Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles Ready for Salt
Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles Ready for Salt

…then salt them and let sit for a couple of hours. Don’t worry if you get busy and they sit all day – they’ll be just as tasty!

Salting Freezer Pickles
Salting Freezer Pickles

The salt draws out the natural juices, creating a brine to preserve the flavors.

After sitting, drain off the brine but do not rinse

Combine the sweet pepper slices and remaining ingredients into a separate bowl, mix well, then pour over the brined vegetables and refrigerate overnight. 

Brined Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles
Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles ready for the jar

The next day, pack the vegetables into a freezer-proof container or bag. We like to use pint canning jars – just the perfect size for a family picnic or BBQ. If the gathering is larger, we take two. 

Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles in Jars
Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles in Jars

When packing the jars or containers, just make sure to leave enough room for expansion so they don’t break or split the containers. Cover the vegetables with the pickling solution for the best flavor and to prevent freezer burn of exposed vegetables. 

Freeze for at least 2 weeks for the flavors to mingle and mature before serving. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve cold. 

Honey Pickled Jalapenos with Garlic

Pickled jalapeños and garlic have been favorites of ours for a couple of decades. Long enough that we don’t remember exactly when we first started liking them, or where we came across them, but we just know we’ve enjoyed making them for a really long time! Our original recipe was on a well-worn scrap of newspaper clipping and made a lightly sweet Polish brine with garlic and we added the jalapeños after trying the plain garlic.

The Joy of Pickling recently made its way into our lives and we discovered this variation on the theme – using honey instead of sugar for the sweetness and adding an unusual spice mixture to kick things up a notch. We think this is fabulous!

If you are not a pickled garlic lover; or a pickled jalapeño aficionado this might take a little getting used to, but trust us it is delicious and well worth trying. The vast majority of people that we’ve sampled this to have loved it, even if they aren’t all that into chunks of garlic and hot peppers. The pickling mellows the heat and punch from the garlic and jalapeños, while the light sweetness brings some nice counter balance to the boldness. The spices bring traditional pickle background flavors into the mix, leaving most with a look of intrigue on their faces after tasting them.

We love these served on a multi-grain cracker,  a whole clove and jalapeño ring side by side. Sometimes a thin slice of aged Irish cheddar cheese mixes things up.

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe – Jalapeños, Coriander and Garlic!

Honey Pickled Jalapeños with Garlic
This lightly sweet-spicy pickle recipe will have you wanting to grow more jalapeños next year!
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • 3 lbs fresh garlic cloves
  • 5 lbs fresh jalapeños cut into rings and de-seeded - red, green or a mix of colors
  • 3 quarts cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbs pickling salt - kosher salt works well
  • 1/2 cup Mixed Pickling Spices
For the Pickling Spices
  • 1 four inch cinnamon stick broken into small pieces
  • 4 whole bay leaves torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbs whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tbs whole allspice berries
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  1. Add 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns to each pint jar.
  2. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup garlic cloves to each jar, depending on how much garlic you want.
  3. Add enough water to water bath canning pot to submerse the pint jars and heat to a boil.
  4. Add the vinegar, honey and salt to a non-reactive saucepan or pot (stainless works well) and bring to a boil.
  5. Tie the Mixed Pickling Spices into a spice bag or square of cheesecloth. Add to the pot with the vinegar, honey and salt to steep.
  6. Once the pickling solution and spices are at a boil, add the jalapeño rings and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to keep at a simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove spice bag and divide jalapeño rings evenly among pint jars.
  8. Add hot pickling solution to each jar, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Close jars with two piece canning rings and new lids.
  9. Process the jars in the boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes, making sure there is space between each jar for hot water to circulate.
  10. After 10 minutes, remove and allow to cool down, listening for the "pop" of the canning lids sealing. Double check once cool to make sure all the lids sealed.
  11. Store the jars in a cool, dry and preferably dark place for 3 weeks for the pickling process to finish. After opening jars, store in refrigerator and use within 2 weeks of opening.
Recipe Notes

Once people taste these, they will go fast so don't hesitate to make a large batch!


Honey Pickled Jalapenos with Garlic

Honey Pickled Jalapenos with Garlic

We start with fresh jalapeños and garlic cloves. If you don’t know how to peel lots of garlic very quickly and easily – just watch our short video Peel Garlic in 10 Seconds and you’ll be set!

Honey Pickled Jalapenos Spices

Honey Pickled Jalapenos Spices

Next is to mix up the Mixed Pickling Spices for some great background flavors to round things out.

Pickling Spices in Bag

Pickling Spices in Bag

The whole spices are enclosed in a spice bag…

Spices in pickling solution

Spices in pickling solution

…and added to the pickling solution that is heating up to a boil.

Adding jalapeños to hot brine

Adding jalapeños to hot brine

Once the solution is at a boil, the jalapeños are added…

Simmering jalapeños

Simmering jalapeños

…and brought back to a simmer for a couple of minutes.

Adding jalapeños to garlic

Adding jalapeños to garlic

The hot peppers are poured over the waiting garlic in the pint jars.

Topping up with hot brine

Topping up with hot brine

The jars are waiting to be topped up with hot brine.

Ready for canning

Ready for canning

Ready for the hot water bath canning!

Finished canning

Finished canning

After canning, the jars need to pickle for about 3 – 4 weeks for the magic to happen, then it’s time to enjoy!

Plated Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts were not my friends when I was a kid. They always showed up unexpectedly, unannounced and taking up way too much space on the dinner plate with their hateful ultimatum – “No leaving the table until your plate is clean.” The worst part was the soggy, slightly slimy texture combined with the sulfurous, earthy, somewhat metallic taste from steaming.

Fast forward 30 odd years and after learning to cook, garden and eat healthy and tasty foods I’ve started to warm up to Brussels sprouts a bit more. I’m not having them twice a week or anything, but I’ve learned how to cook them a couple of ways that make them surprisingly tasty. This recipe is the first one that I tried where I really liked them, the other is Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Dijon Dressing which is completely unexpected but thoroughly delicious. That is a more sophisticated approach, this is rustic, simple and hugely satisfying. I’ve used this recipe to re-introduce others to an entirely different Brussels sprout than we all knew and hated as kids.

Take the time to properly roast the Brussels sprouts – in a cast-iron deep skillet is the absolute best way as the even heat caramelizes the sprouts, making them nutty, rich and very flavorful. Roasting opens up the flavors that are otherwise locked away and missed.

Here’s what you could grow in your garden for this recipe –

Classic Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Slow pan-roasting brings out the rich, nutty flavors of fresh Brussels sprouts. Combined with sweet pepper, onion and sausage, this will make a very satisfying one-course meal or a hearty side dish. Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a one-course meal.
Servings: 6
  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts halved
  • 1 pound fresh sausage - Italian Polish or Sicilian, sliced
  • 2 medium onions diced large
  • 2 large bell peppers - preferably red or yellow diced
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat cast iron skillet over low to medium heat, add halved Brussels sprouts, making sure they are all cut side down. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Check every few minutes by slightly lifting a sprout to check the progress of the caramelization, about 15 - 20 minutes. Add a drizzle of olive oil if sprouts start to stick to pan.
  2. Once the Brussels sprouts have started to caramelize, add the sausage and stir to cook - about 5 minutes.
  3. When the sausage is beginning to brown, add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Stir to cook evenly, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and stir to coat vegetables. Add salt and ground pepper to taste.
  5. Serve hot.
Recipe Notes

A good caramelization will have some dark spots on the Brussels sprouts, but don't worry - it adds to the flavor!

Pan Roasting Brussels Sprouts

Pan Roasting Brussels Sprouts

The hardest part of this dish is caramelizing the Brussels sprouts – which isn’t that difficult, just requiring a bit of patience. Allow time to let them slowly brown. Here’s what the caramelizing looks like… no they aren’t burned, but you don’t want to go much darker than this! The slow caramelizing adds an unexpected nuttiness and depth of flavor. 

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts-Closeup

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Closeup

A closer view of what they look like when almost done. They will be slightly firm but not crunchy, yet a long way from limp and slimy!

Plated Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Plated Roasted Brussels Sprouts

On to the plate and ready for a feast!

Homemade Fermented Chile Paste

Fermented chile paste is one of my favorite toppings or condiments: I use it on eggs, sandwiches, in soups, stews and of course stir-frys. Most of the chile pastes found in Asian markets will be fermented to some degree, with those made in America less so. Fermenting your own puts you in the driver’s seat, as you get to choose what flavors go into the process and how hot or mild the result is. After you’ve made a batch or two, you’ll reach for your ‘special sauce’ before anything else!

We’ve just made a different type of fermented chile paste and wanted to share the process with you. This is completely different than our other chile fermentation recipe – Fermented Pepper Sauce. This method is still a lacto-fermentation, but instead of depending on the natural lactobacillus bacteria on the chiles, it uses organic whole milk yogurt to jump-start the fermentation process. What we’ve found is that this method really adds to the complexity and roundness of the flavors while decreasing the heat considerably. This is so delicious that a small dollop goes well on top of real vanilla ice cream!

This is a very quick recipe – our fermented chile paste was finished in just about 4 – 5 days, instead of a couple of weeks to a month for the more traditional lacto-fermentation. We hardly saw any bubbling in the air pockets, with none on top. Because of the yogurt culture providing the fermentation engine, we didn’t need to cover the chile mixture with water and then strain it out later.

The chiles we used were heirloom Anaheim and Serrano chiles, with only about 10% being Serranos. I used the Anaheims for the mildness and well-rounded flavors, with the Serranos, providing a different flavor dimension and some good heat. I just cut the stems off of the Anaheims, but seeded, de-veined and de-stemmed the Serranos and the initial mixture was still pretty shockingly hot! The heat was an immediate, front-of-the-tongue heat which is typical for Serranos. The initial odor was unmistakably sharp fresh chiles and garlic, but after one day it smoothed out and had a very pleasant odor. After two days it started to smell very mellow with sauerkraut overtones and the chile/garlic combination fading. When it was finished the two odors were pretty well balanced, with the flavor being remarkably smooth, rich and long lasting. The heat had really mellowed, to a very moderate background that never intruded or was uncomfortable, only adding to the experience.

Note – to peel garlic painlessly, watch our short video Peel Garlic in 10 Seconds!

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe –  Chiles and Lemongrass!

Homemade Fermented Chile Paste
A very quick and unusual fermentation that uses yogurt to start the fermentation. Absolutely delicious, the chiles heat is greatly moderated by the fermenting process, adding complexity and a great depth of flavor.
  • 1/4 cup organic whole milk yogurt you want as many live cultures as possible!
  • 1 - 3 Tbsp natural salt such as Redmond RealSalt or Himalayan salt
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic or for more garlic flavor - use the whole head
  • 2 - 3 quarts fresh chiles any type you prefer
  • 1/2 gallon canning jar for the fermentation
  • 1 quart jar for storage
  • 1 - 2 oz piece of ginger
  • Fresh lemongrass stalks - chopped - use the bottom parts that are more tender
  • 1 - 2 Tsp Organic sugar
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
  1. Make sure the fermentation jar is extremely clean - wash with very hot soapy water and rinse very well.
  2. Wash, de-stem the chiles, removing seeds and veins if you want. Remove any bad spots. The seeds and veins contain the capsaicin, or heat. Milder chiles won't add much heat, but hotter ones will. I usually remove the seeds and stems from the really hot chiles for a better flavor that more people can enjoy.
  3. Peel garlic cloves.
  4. Add chiles, garlic and ginger or lemongrass pieces to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped into a paste. Use your judgement as to how fine of a paste to form. Stop and scrape the bowl down to make sure everything is chopped well. If the mixture gets thick and won't move in the bowl, add 1/4 cup water to make it looser.
  5. Add salt - if processor is full, add 3 Tbsp, if over half full, add 2 Tbsp and if half full, add 1 Tbsp.
  6. Add yogurt and pulse again to mix in.
  7. Transfer the paste to the 1/2 gallon jar for fermenting. Replace the screw lid loosely, to keep insects out but allow pressure build up to vent.
  8. Place the jar where you can observe it daily while it ferments, but not in the refrigerator yet.
  9. Daily, remove the lid, stir, smell and taste the mixture. You will see some bubbles and possibly some mold forming. White mold is good - do not be worried with white mold! Any other color is cause for concern - usually due to jar not being extremely clean or chiles not thoroughly washed. Stir any white mold into mixture.
  10. Store in refrigerator to slow down fermentation and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

When the flavors are to your liking, it is done. If left alone, the fermentation will continue for a month or more, so don't feel you have to wait on it.
Make sure that you have at least one full inch of headspace between the top of the chile paste and the lid, otherwise it can bubble over and make a mess.

Ripe Chiles for Fermented Chile Paste

Ripe Chiles for Fermented Chile Paste

We started with fully ripe heirloom Anaheim and Serrano chiles – the Anaheims for flavor with the Serranos providing a nice heat.

Removing Seeds and Veins from Chiles

Removing Seeds and Veins from Chiles

The next step was to remove the ‘heat’ from the Serrano chiles by removing the veins and seeds. These contain the capsaicin which is a yellow oil in the seeds and along the veins.

Deseeding Chiles

Deseeding Chiles

A butter knife worked well to slip into the chile and remove seeds and veins all at once. Note the disposable gloves to protect my hands now and eyes later!

Chile Paste Ready for Fermenting

Chile Paste Ready for Fermenting

After the chiles and garlic were chopped up in the food processor, the yogurt and salt were added, then pulsed to mix in well. Be careful when pushing the chile mixture down to keep your face away from the opening, as it can be quite pungent, depending on your chile selection!

Transferring Chile Paste to Jar

Transferring Chile Paste to Jar

After the yogurt and salt are added, the chile mixture is transferred to the fermenting jar. We started with the quart jar, but it was too full so we transferred to a half gallon to give it enough space.

Fermented Chile Paste

Fermented Chile Paste

After about 5 days, the fermented chile paste was ready to go. It started to mellow in the aroma after the 2nd day, and by the 4th it had a sauerkraut odor with undertones of chile – surprisingly delicious! We transferred the paste back into a quart jar to store in the refrigerator.

Homemade Fermented Chile Paste

Homemade Fermented Chile Paste

The final product glamour shot!

Argentine Beef Roast

Peceto Asado con Tallerines (Argentine Beef Roast with Fettuccine)

 Argentina is world-famous for the beef they raise on the open grassland plains of the Pampas. It isn’t surprising to see how creative they are with using beef in so many different ways, much like the Italians have finely crafted the myriad uses of pork in their cuisine.

To expand my cuisine beyond the beloved Mexican and Central American dishes that I’ve grown up with, I wanted to try something a little different but delicious. This beef roast is the first result of our experimentation, and it turned out as succulent and mouthwatering as the photos show. There was a breadth and depth to the flavors that was hard to describe – the roast was tender, juicy and had a number of flavor combinations that kept hitting the tongue, then the tomato sauce balanced the roast out beautifully.

We used a large roast to give us some for an easy, creative dinner or two during the week. Scroll past the recipe for more photos and commentary!

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe – Tomato, Onion, Bell Pepper and Rosemary!

Peceto Asado con Tallarines (Argentine Beef Roast with Fettuccine)
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 45 mins
This unusual but delicious Argentine roasted beef dish is served with "tuco" - a traditional tomato sauce over tallarines, similar to handmade fettuccine. The marinade and mesquite charcoal roasting gives it an unbelievable depth of flavor.
Servings: 8
Author: Maria Teresa Endara Aliaga Vierci
  • 1 Beef roast about 4 lbs
  • 1 Head of garlic peeled and crushed or diced
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs fresh rosemary finely diced
  • 1/2 Cup red wine or water
  • 8 Cups cooked fettuccine linguine or spaghetti
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon and orange
For the Tuco (Tomato sauce)
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion chopped
  • 1 Bell pepper - yellow or red preferred chopped
  • 2 Large tomatoes chopped or 1 can of chopped tomato puree
  • 1 Cup well-seasoned beef broth
  • 2 Dried bay leaves
  • 2 Tsp Mexican oregano
  • Sea salt to taste
Marinating the beef
  1. Trim any excess fat from the roast.
  2. In a mortar, mash the garlic into a paste, then lightly crush the rosemary leaves. Mix with the oil, salt and pepper forming a paste. Rub into the roast; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. 2 - 3 hours before roasting, remove plastic wrap, place in bowl and pour lemon and orange juice over roast.
  1. It is best to roast over mesquite charcoal for the absolute best flavor, but oven roasting will still be very tasty.
  2. Heat covered charcoal grill to around 325°F and roast over the coals for 10 - 15 minutes each side to sear and seal the juices in. After 30 minutes, place roast in a shallow roasting pan on a pizza stone to finish roasting over an indirect heat. Turn every 20 minutes until tender.
  3. If roasting in oven, start with roast in shallow pan and turn and bast every 20 minutes.
  4. Once roast is tender, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes then slice thinly across the grain.
Prepare the Tuco
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onions until soft, add the bell pepper and saute until just beginning to soften.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered until they release their juices, stirring consistently as the juices evaporate a bit.
  4. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, Mexican oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until slightly thickened and season to taste with salt.
  6. Set aside to serve with noodles.
  1. Arrange warm noodles on the plate, ladle a generous helping of tuco on the noodles and layer with 3 or more slices of roast on top.
  2. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary if desired.
Recipe Notes

This is a great way to cook a large portion of roast for a scrumptious Sunday dinner to have the basis of several outstanding meals during the week.


Argentine Beef Roast

Here is what dinner started with. The beef is locally grown, semi-grassfed from a neighbor. I call it semi-grassfed as we simply don’t have enough grass in central Arizona on smaller acreage to completely feed a large animal like a beef cow. We do know exactly how this beef was raised and the processor is local as well. This beef traveled less than 20 miles from hoof to plate!


Argentine Beef Roast

After just over an hour, this is the beauty that emerged from our Kamado, a Japanese charcoal smoker/cooker. The deep red is from the mesquite smoke, and the taste test that I cut off is apparent. Delicious!


Argentine Tuco Sauce

The tuco sauce close-up. It was a different experience making a non-Italian tomato sauce! It was rich, flavorful and a perfect counter to the intense flavors of the roasted beef.


Argentine Beef Roast

Just after plating, the first glamor shot!


Spinach Sesame and Ginger Salad

Here’s our adaptation of several classic Asian wilted spinach dishes, usually served either before or alongside the main meal. This is easy to make, downright delicious but with an unusual twist in the flavors that will make it memorable for your guests. Enjoy the flush of spinach, because it is a short-lived season!

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe –  Spinach, Chiles and Sesame seeds!

Spinach Salad with Sesame and Ginger
Spinach can be very productive, leaving folks wondering what to do with all of those greens. This Asian- inspired wilted spinach salad uses a pound at a time and is delicious, combining the rich, sweet fresh spinach with the rice vinegar, ginger, pepper flakes and toasted sesame flavors.
Servings: 4
  • 1 pound fresh spinach rinsed well, lightly steamed and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar preferably raw
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds toasted
  1. Make the dressing ahead of time by combining the sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, hot pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well with a wire whisk, taste and adjust seasonings to suit your preference. Set aside to allow flavors to mingle, at least a half hour.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds in a small heavy pan, like cast iron, over medium heat. Stir constantly until they release their aroma and start to slightly darken. Remove, pour into a cool bowl and stir until cooled down to stop toasting, about 1 - 2 minutes.
  3. To wilt the spinach, wash in a sink full of water thoroughly to remove any residual grit or dirt, shake once or twice and add to a deep, heavy saute pan that has been heating over medium heat and cover until just wilted, about 1 - 2 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat to high and let the water evaporate while stirring with tongs, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove spinach using tongs to squeeze out any excess liquid and place into a large serving bowl. Refrigerate until cool.
  4. Once cool pour dressing over spinach and toss several times to mix flavors well, then sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the top.

Szechuan Buttons in hand

Taste one of these little bright yellow jewels and you’ll immediately discover why they’ve gained a loyal following and a number of equally colorful names. They initially give a strong burst of citrus-like tang, quickly followed by a curious, tingly jolt of electricity sensation that spreads from your tongue to fill your whole mouth that ends in a numb feeling. This all repeats itself for about 15 minutes.

They have become very popular with restaurants that use the buds finely diced in fresh salads, with sliced chiles and lime as a condiment, lightly pickled or candied with desserts. Here is a unique, complex and attention-grabbing sorbet that will intrigue and delight your friends or a dinner party!

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe –  Chile and Szechuan Buttons!

Szechuan Button and Mango Sorbet
This attention-grabbing "fizzy" sorbet makes a very unique tongue-tingling dessert or perhaps the ultimate between-course palate cleanser. Sure to bring the smiles and questions when your guests first taste it!
Servings: 4
Author: James Wong
  • 3 fresh mangoes peeled, pits removed and sliced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 cup of superfine sugar Use regular sugar if you can't find superfine - powdered sugar has cornstarch in it
  • 1 small red chile finely chopped Remove seeds if you are sensitive to heat, or to try for the first time
  • 9 small Szechuan buttons finely diced for the sorbet 3 diced for the salt coating and a few extra (quartered or halved) to use as a garnish in each dish
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. In a food processor, blitz the mangoes, lime zest and juice and superfine sugar to a smooth puree.
  2. Pour into a freezer safe container, stir in the chopped chile and Szechuan buttons and put into freezer.
  3. After 1 hour, stir the mixture with a fork to loosen and fluff. Do this every hour until fully frozen. The aim is to create an icy, fluffy slush instead of a frozen block.
  4. Once frozen, wet the rim of a Martini glass or small dessert dish with lime then dip the rim into a mixture of sea salt and diced Szechuan buttons. Scoop a small portion into the glass or dish.
  5. Serve immediately with a garnish of halved or quartered Szchuan buttons and a ring or two of sliced chile.
Recipe Notes

The chile should add intrigue and a dimension of flavor, not stand on it's own heat. Start conservatively, then add as flavor is needed.
The overall flavor should be one of sweet, then fruity, then slightly sour, then the chile flavor (not heat) and "buzz" of the Szechuan buttons should arrive together, raising eyebrows!

Adapted from Homegrown Revolution

Oaxacan Poblano Chicken

Pechugas in Salsa de Poblano Gratinadas

This Mexican poblano chicken dish from the Oaxacan region is another one of our family’s favorite dishes, partially because it is easy to make, is absolutely delicious and makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day or so. The flavors combine the mild richness of the roasted poblano chiles with the smooth creaminess of the cream and cheese in typical Oaxacan style. Add into this the smoky, roasted and seasoned chicken and you’ve got a memorable dish! We usually serve this on a bed of Mexican rice with a salad on the side. It never fails to impress our guests, with most asking for the recipe or for a second serving.

You can make this ahead of time, either in stages or in full to be served when it is convenient for your schedule. The sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and the chicken can be roasted the day before, so all that is needed is to add the sauce to the chicken and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes or until everything is hot. This is best when roasted on the grill outside for that incomparable smoky flavor, but is very good when done entirely inside with the chicken browned in a heavy bottomed pot first.

Oaxacan Chicken in Poblano Sauce


1 lb. chicken parts cut up – can use breasts or thighs
3 – 5 large poblano chiles
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 cup half and half
1/4 lb. grated Monterey Jack cheese
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Seasoning for the chicken

1 Tbs. ground cumin
2 Tsp. ground coriander
1 Tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
1 Tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 Tsp. sea salt

Mix the chicken seasonings well and then sprinkle onto chicken pieces, covering moderately. Grill on a medium heat for 5 – 7 minutes a side, to cook about 1/2 way or more. Remove from grill.

Grill onion and poblano peppers for 7 – 10 minutes or until starting to soften. Remove from grill and remove the stem, seeds and membranes from the peppers, then dice into medium sized pieces. Alternately, sauté in a heavy bottomed pot for 7 -10 minutes after cutting up peppers.

Puree pepper and onion mixture in a blender with half and half. The texture can be smooth or slightly chunky, depending on your preference. Pour poblano sauce into a heavy pot, and then add chicken pieces one at a time, coating them well with the sauce.

Either bake in preheated oven at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes or until sauce is bubbly, or simmer on stovetop. Once sauce is bubbling, turn off heat and add grated cheese. Let sit for 3 – 5 minutes to melt cheese, then serve hot.

Serves 4 – 6

We did a photo essay for you to see how easy it is!

Poblano PeppersStarting with fresh Poblano peppers, we roasted them for a few minutes to soften them up, then removed the seeds, stems and membranes.

Poblano Peppers and OnionThen we sauteed them for a few minutes to mingle their flavors.

Poblano Peppers MixtureAfter they were ready, they went into the blender with some half and half and were pureed to a chunky texture. You can make it as smooth or chunky as you like.

Poblano SauceThe poblano sauce was added back to the pot…

Roasted ChickenThen the roasted chicken pieces were ready to be added.

Oaxan Poblano ChickenAfter adding the chicken pieces, the sauce was simmered for about 20 minutes until it was hot and bubbly, then the Monterey Jack cheese was added and melted with the heat off.

Oaxacan Poblano ChickenServed on a bed of Mexican rice, it was both beautiful and delicious!

Roasted Garlic and Onion for Antipasto

With the garden in full production at this time of year, there is usually an over-abundance of fresh vegetables, especially tomatoes, basil and parsley. Of course, the first thought is a pasta sauce, but after the first few gallons have been made the magic fades a bit.

What else is there to create that is reasonably quick and stunningly delicious? With that we bring you a trio of antipasto recipes. These are perfect for light grazing through an evening with friends, or for just the two of you on the back deck watching a summer evening fade into twilight.

We will start with the simplest one first. It has been called a caponata spread, but is closer to a tapenade. This has been one of our go-to recipes for more than a decade, and came from a local wood-fired restaurant that has long since closed its doors. This is simple and quick to make and keeps well.

All of them are addictive, so double the amount you make for friends and you might have some left to enjoy the next day!

Zuma’s Caponata Spread

We will often use this as a base or starting point and substitute what is fresh at the moment. Adding green Spanish olives adds a nice flavor, as does adding one anchovy to move it more into the tapenade category. If we are pressed for time, we omit the onion and substitute 1/4 cup fresh garlic for the roasted.

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes
  • 1 large roasted onion
  • 2 heads of roasted garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse to a slightly chunky consistency.
  2. Store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours for flavors to blend. Serve with toasted bread or crackers.

Serves 4 – 6 as appetizers, 2 – 3 as antipasto

Classic Tapanade from Saveur Magazine

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • 1 tsp. chopped, rinsed, salt-packed capers
  • 1/2 cup chopped, pitted olives
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
  1. Crush garlic and anchovy filet with a mortar and pestle, then mix in capers, olives, and parsley.
  2. Stir in olive oil, add lemon juice, and combine well with a fork.
  3. Alternatively, add garlic and anchovy to food processor and pulse till blended, then add in capers, olives and parsley. Pulse to chop well while drizzling in olive oil, then add lemon juice and mix well.

Serves 4 – 6 as appetizers, 2 – 3 as antipasto

Sicilian Caponata

This is an adaptation of one of the oldest, most widely travelled recipes from the Mediterranean region, with several cultures contributing to the flavors and preparation. If you use fresh-from-the-garden eggplant you might not need to do the salting step, as this is used to remove bitterness.

  • 2 eggplants (about 2 lbs.), cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 anchovy filet, chopped
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes (about 1 lb.), cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 12 pitted green olives coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Put eggplant into a colander set over a large bowl; toss with 1 tbsp. salt. Top with a plate weighted down with several large cans; let drain for 1 hour. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the eggplant and cook until golden brown, 7–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a bowl. Repeat with oil and remaining eggplant.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining oil, onions, and anchovies; cook until soft, 14–15 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and celery and increase heat to medium; cook until tomatoes release their juices, 5–6 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste; cook until thickened, 3–4 minutes.
  6. Add cooked eggplant, raisins, pine nuts, capers, olives, roasted peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until hot.
  7. Transfer to a plate; let cool slightly. Top with basil and parsley.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 – 6 as appetizers, 2 – 3 as antipasto

Swiss chard Italian style

Chard will always be there for you. Like a reliable friend, it is one of the greatest, and often least appreciated, of all the gifts from your local farmer (or garden).

Chard’s long, thick stalks have wide, glossy green leaves that may be smooth or curly, depending on the variety. The stalk comes in many colors, from white to green to brilliant red, yellow, and pink. At many farmers markets you’ll see the flashy Ruby Red and Bright Lights varieties. They are glamorous and hard to resist, but the old-fashioned varieties with white stems and green leaves are even tastier.

Not only is chard giving, it’s forgiving too. It’s much more heat-resistant than spinach, grows well under most weather and soil conditions, and is disease resistant and bug resistant too. After harvesting, the inner leaves come back quickly, so you’ll see chard at farmers markets from early June clear through Thanksgiving. Because it’s always there, you might take it for granted, but, as with a good friend, you shouldn’t.

Chard is as close to perfect as a vegetable can get—a low-calorie, high-nutrition green with a mildly sweet, clean taste. It’s also a fast food. Tender young chard leaves can be eaten raw, adding a beet-like flavor to salads and sandwiches. Larger stalks and leaves can be blanched in boiling water, or sauteed up in a matter of minutes, quick and easy. Then toss the cooked chard into pasta with olive oil and garlic, add to omelets and frittatas, or use instead of spinach in your favorite recipe.

Chard stalks and leaves are delicious, and there is no reason to discard the stems as many American recipes instruct. French or Italian recipes, on the other hand, often tell you to use just the stems and reserve the leaves for another purpose. That “other purpose” was revealed by the great food writer Richard Olney who wrote in Simple French Food (1977) that “the green leafy parts . . . are usually fed to the rabbits and the ducks.” I’m sure they make a fine treat for rabbits and ducks, but I recommend the obvious – eat the stems, leaves, and all!

Swiss chard Italian Style from Farm Fresh Now!

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard (2 or 3 bunches), rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt and hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, or 2 Tb butter and 2 Tb olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Place the chard in a large stockpot with plenty of water still clinging to it and set on medium-high heat. When it begins to sizzle, stir and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chard is wilted but still has texture and the leaves have turned dark green, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chard to the skillet after squeezing out some of the liquid. Cook, stirring, until the chard has wilted and the garlic is cooked, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a warmed platter and drizzle with the remaining olive oil or dot with butter and serve.

Serves 4 as a main course.

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local farmer or grow it yourself. To locate the nearest farmers’ market or farm CSA near you, go to “Local Harvest” online.

Secrets of a Seasonal Cook
Article © Terra Brockman
Photo © Cara Cummings

Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Fermented Pepper Sauce

Preserving that overly abundant harvest has been one of the major challenges that gardening and agriculture has always had. In today’s world we are much more familiar with the processes of canning, drying and freezing as acceptable methods of preserving our garden’s harvest for the winter season and longer. These methods have their own set of challenges, though. Canning requires time, experience and knowledge to be successful. Freezing is pretty simple, but has its own set of needs to ensure the garden bounty isn’t lost to freezer burn or premature thawing. Drying is also simple, but benefits from modern drying equipment that can be expensive as an initial purchase.

What if there was another way, a method of preserving the harvest that is not only simple, non-intensive for both labor and equipment and was proven safe? One that is location and temperature independent, doesn’t care if you forget the exact timing and still produces an absolutely delicious product? There is! That method is fermentation. It has been proven safe over several thousand years, with at least that many different approaches and many more recipes. Almost every culture across history has contributed something to the art of fermentation.

Fermenting vegetables is an extremely simple, effective and tasty way to start experimenting and gaining knowledge, taste and experience. In addition to being easy and quick it is also highly nutritious and beneficial to your health.

Some folks are hesitant or outright afraid of trying fermentation for fear of accidentally growing the “wrong” bacteria and sickening or even killing themselves or their families. This is completely understandable in today’s world of anti-microbial soaps, detergents and wipes.

At least in the world of raw vegetables, this fear is unfounded. “As far as I know, there has never been a documented case of food-borne illness from fermented vegetables. Risky is not a word I would use to describe vegetable fermentation. It is one of the oldest and safest technologies we have.” This is from Fred Breidt, a USDA microbiologist specializing in vegetable fermentation.

In fact, fermenting commercially available vegetables will kill any pathogens that we’ve seen in the news as contributing to food-borne illnesses, as they simply cannot survive in the lactic acid environments of fermentation!

This is going to be a slightly different recipe format than we usually do. We will give you a foundational approach to fermenting any vegetables, and then give a basic recipe for a sweet and hot fermented pepper sauce or paste. The beauty of these recipes is that they are entirely scalable. Do you have an extra quart of hot chiles, a handful of sweet peppers and some garlic or onion? Great, we can work with that! Or do you have a couple of 5 gallon buckets of hot chiles and 3 more of sweet peppers, more onions than you know what to do with and you’re worried about them all going bad? No worries, we can work with that as well – all from the same recipe! The flavors from each recipe will be different, but equally delicious and nutritious.

There is a new book on fermentation on the market, and it is most excellent. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz is his newest exploration of this ancient form of preserving foods. His tagline on the book reads, “An in-depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world.” The basic concepts of fermenting come right out of his book, and they are easy!
Fermenting Vegetables

Vegetable Fermentation Made Easy

  1. Chop or grate vegetables.
  2. Lightly salt the chopped veggies (add more as necessary for taste) and pound or squeeze until moist; alternatively, soak the veggies in a brine solution for a few hours.
  3. Pack the vegetables into a jar or other vessel, tightly, so that they are forced below the liquid. Add water, if necessary.
  4. Wait, taste frequently, and enjoy!

It doesn’t matter if you have one or a dozen veggies, the above recipe works. Add spices, herbs or edible flowers and experiment. You will be surprised at just how tasty almost everything comes out.

Now that we have the basics down, let’s look at how to handle that bumper crop of hot chiles and sweet peppers. These, along with tomatoes, are one of the most expensive vegetables to buy in the store, but taste so much better out of your garden. It is an absolute crying shame to let any of these go to waste!

Let’s look first at a hot fermented chile sauce, much like Sri Ra Cha or “Rooster Sauce” as it’s called after the rooster on the bottle. The only ingredient ratio to keep in mind is the chile to garlic. Don’t go crazy on the garlic, as it gains pungency as it ferments and can throw off the overall flavor.

A note on the salt – use anything but Iodized salt, as this will cloud the color of the brine and can leave a metallic aftertaste.

Homemade Fermented Sri Ra Cha Sauce

  • 1 Lb Ripe red chiles – Jalapeno, Serrano, Cayenne, Beaver Dam, or Concho
  • 2 Cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tsp Real Salt, kosher salt or pickling salt
  • 2 Tbs Palm sugar or 1 Tbs light brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: 1/4 Cup fish sauce in place of vinegar. Use Vietnamese for a stronger flavor or Thai for a milder one.
  • Optional: Tapioca starch for thickening
  1. Remove the stems from the chiles, leaving the green “cap” where the stem meets the chile. It adds a unique flavor during fermentation.
  2. Chop the chiles and garlic lightly, using a food processor if needed until mixture is largely chunky. Do not process too much, just minimally.
  3. Add chile mixture to a half-gallon Mason jar or other non-metal container. Sprinkle salt in while packing chiles. Pack down with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add just enough water to submerge mixture and cover with a dish towel secured by the ring.
  4. Ferment for a month, more or less as taste dictates. Taste about every week to see when it is “done” for your tastes. You will see how the flavor changes with time. Keep chile mixture submerged and remove any mold that forms on top by lifting it out with a spoon, fork or spatula.
  5. When the fermentation is finished, liquefy in a blender or food processor. Strain out the seeds and pulp with a cheese-making cloth and let hang for a few hours or squeeze to get all the liquid out. Discard the pulp and seeds. Heat the liquid on low heat, adding the sugar and vinegar or fish sauce and stirring them in.
  6. Once the sugar, vinegar or fish sauce are melted in you can lower the heat and reduce the sauce to the consistency you like or use a little tapioca starch to thicken it, much like using corn starch. Tapioca will add just a touch of sweetness, won’t be bitter and is GMO free. Let cool and bottle.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Will keep for 6 months or more, but you’ll eat it long before then!

Recipe notes: Wait until the chiles are fully ripe and red, as they will have the most complex flavor profile and yield the tastiest sauce.

Use the general ratio listed to scale up or down to suit your particular needs at the time.

Now let’s look at a larger batch with more ingredients and a completely different flavor.

Sweet and Spicy Fermented Pepper Sauce

  • 3 Lbs Ripe red chiles, much the same as above
  • 1 Lb Ripe sweet bell peppers – Jupiter, Melrose, or Lipstick 
  • 1/2 Lb Onion
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 1/2 Cups Palm sugar or 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 – 5 Tbs Real Salt, kosher salt or pickling salt
  • 1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar or fish sauce for additional flavor
  1. The procedure is much the same as for the above recipe. Chop the chiles, sweet peppers, garlic and onion.
  2. Submerse in a suitable container, pack down with a wooden spoon and cover with water. If using a large, open container it may help to use a plate on the top weighted down with one or two heavy-duty freezer Zip-lock bags filled with a brine solution of 3 Tbs salt to 1/2 gallon water. This way if the bags do spring a leak, you don’t dilute the brine of the fermentation. This also allows the bubbles to get past the plate and bags without building up pressure.
  3. Ferment for a month, tasting weekly.
  4. Liquefy in a blender, strain out the pulp and seeds.
  5. Heat on low and add sugar and vinegar or fish sauce.
  6. Thicken if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

Now you have the basic foundation of how to make some incredibly delicious chile or sweet fermented pepper sauce. You can go from mild to shockingly hot and experiment with different spices and amounts of complementary vegetables to add their flavors. You will quickly become something of a hero to your family and friends once they taste your unique sauces!

Chile Coloradito Sauce

This is an incredibly versatile chile sauce with loads of flavor and just a touch of heat. It is my adaptation of the incomparable Mole Coloradito Oaxaqueno from Susanna Trilling in her “Seasons of My Heart” cookbook that we’ve featured before. (Mole is pronounced “Mole-lay”!)

This makes a sauce that is 95% of her Mole, but I prefer to make a very large batch as it is a project to do and doubling of the recipe doesn’t take much more time to make. Then you have this cache of amazing flavor that spices up any dish with no extra time but lets all of the flavor and work shine through. It is a wonderful basis for enchiladas, nachos, stews, soups, sloppy Joe’s, burritos or even spooned over eggs in the morning. I like to add about half tomato sauce by volume to make a great sauce that is smooth and mellow with the taste of the chiles but none of the bite.

Colorado means “red” in Spanish, usually referring to a deep brick type of red, so coloradito is “little red”. We’ll give you the recipe first, then walk you though the preparation in photos so you can see the stages and progression. These chiles can easily be grown in your garden for most of North America, or at a well-stocked Mexican grocer. For the Mexican chocolate, Ibarra is a well-known brand that is available almost everywhere. If you really want to take the flavor to the next level, look at Taza Chocolate. It is stone ground in the traditional Mexican village tradition and has a flavor that is absolutely to die for, not to mention being fair trade and traceable to the source. You can see all about how your batch was made by entering the batch number into their website!

Homemade Chile Coloradito Sauce

  • 18 Ancho chiles
  • 21 Guajillo chiles
  • 25 Pasilla Bajio/Chilaca chiles
  • 10 Concho chiles
  • 1 Chipotle chile en adobo
  • 5 Black peppercorns, whole
  • 2 Cloves, whole
  • 1 Star anise, whole
  • 1 Allspice, whole
  • 1 Piece Mexican cinnamon, about 1 inch long
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin, whole
  • 1/4 Tsp Coriander, whole
  • 1 Head garlic, cloves separated
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 Lb ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 Tsp Mexican oregano, dried (Can substitute Marjoram if needed)
  • 1 Plantain, ripe
  • 1 Tbs raisins
  • 5 Almonds, whole and unpeeled
  • 1/2 Cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Bars Mexican chocolate – 6 oz total
  • 3 Tbs Coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 Qt homemade chicken stock
  • Salt to taste

There are 3 steps to this recipe: processing the chiles, processing the spices and processing the tomatoes, onions, plantains and seasonings.

Some cooks will stem and seed the chiles while still dry, toasting the pieces. Others will toast the chiles whole, then soak them to soften the skins and remove the stems and seeds.

  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a dry comal, griddle or a cast-iron frying pan over low heat and toast the chiles on both sides for about 5 minutes. Toast the Anchos a bit slower and on a lower heat because of their thicker skins. Toasting them blisters and loosens the skins and gives off a rich chile aroma. It may be best to toast them in smaller batches so the pan or comal is not crowded. You need room to move and turn the chiles in the pan.
  2. Remove the chiles, place them in a large bowl with the hot water. Cover or weight the bowl with a plate to keep the chiles submerged. Soak for about 20 minutes to fully soften the dried skins. If chiles have been stemmed and seeded, puree in a blender using as little of the chile water as possible to make a thick paste, usually about a cup. If chiles have not been stemmed and seeded, do this first, then puree in blender. It is best to do this in small batches to not overload and overheat the blender, as the chile puree is quite thick. Depending on your blender, you may have a smooth paste at this point, or you may have some small pieces of skin. If skin pieces are present, pass the puree through a food mill or sieve to remove the skin pieces. Set aside.
  3. After processing the chiles, heat the dry comal, griddle or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat and toast the peppercorns, cloves, allspice, cinnamon stick, cumin and coriander until they release their aroma. Stir the spices constantly to prevent burning and to monitor the toasting process. Set the spices aside.
  4. Grill the garlic and onion on the dry frying pan, turning often until they become translucent. They may stick a bit, but keep turning. Puree the spices, onion and garlic with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Set aside.
  5. Heat the cast-iron frying pan to medium and cook the tomatoes and oregano with no oil until the condense, usually about 10 – 15 minutes. They will give off their juices, then start to condense as the juices evaporate. Once condensed, set aside.
  6. Heat 2 Tbs of the oil over a medium heat in a cast-iron frypan and fry the plantain until brown, about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from the pan, add raisins and fry until plump, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside with plantain. Fry the almonds until light brown, about 4 minutes. If needed add a little additional oil, but the amount should decrease with each ingredient until the almonds are almost being dry-fried.
  7. Puree the plantain, raisins and almonds in a blender with 1 1/2 cups chicken stock until smooth.
  8. Heat frying pan over low heat, add 1 Tsp of oil and gently fry the sesame seeds until just turning brown, about 6 – 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove, cool and grind in a spice grinder or food processor.
  9. In a heavy stockpot, at least 6 quart capacity, heat 1 Tsp of oil until almost smoking on medium-high heat. Add chile puree and cook, stirring constantly. It will splatter, but keep stirring until heated through. Once heated, lower heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When chile puree starts to thicken add tomato mixture, lower heat to low and cook another 15 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking or burning. Then add onion and spice mixture and stir well. Add pureed plantain and sesame mixture and stir well. Cook a further 10 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from sticking.
  10. If you are making a larger batch and freezing some, add 2 cups of chicken stock, stir in well then add the chocolate and stir constantly. Once the chocolate has dissolved, add the salt, stir in well. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and let cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. It will be a thick sauce, ready for freezing in jars. Let cool, then ladle into mason jars leaving an inch gap at the top. Will keep in the freezer for up to a year.
  11. If you are making the batch to use fresh, add 5 cups of chicken stock to thin the sauce, then add the chocolate, stirring constantly. Once the chocolate has dissolved, add the salt. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and let it cook down for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should coat the back of a spoon, but not be much thicker when done.

Makes about 8 servings.

Recipe Tip! It doesn’t take much longer to make double the recipe and freeze for an easy, delicious dish later!

This may sound complicated or a lot of work, so we will walk you through the process and show you what each step looks like. It is a good day’s worth of work, but it can be broken up into a couple of days if you don’t have the time to make it all in one day. Once you taste the results, you will immediately see why it is worth the effort to make a large batch!

In the first photo, we are toasting two of the different chiles and dry frying the onion and garlic in another pan. We have learned to save a lot of time by combining a couple of steps at once. The Ancho chiles are in the back with the Pasilla Bajio or Chilacas in front.

Roasting Chiles

Roasting Chiles and Frying Onions

These are the chiles after toasting, soaking and being stemmed and seeded. Most of the work happens right here, to get to this stage. After this everything is roasting and toasting, then using a blender to puree everything into a sauce. To give a sense of scale, this bowl is over 18 inches across!

Soaked, Seeded and Stemmed Chiles

Into the blender with the chiles! We have a Vita-Mix blender that is a real blessing with big projects like this. It stands up to the thick sauce without overheating, but we still need to process all of the chiles in batches. We usually fill the blender about 1/3 full with chiles and add just enough soaking water to make a thick paste. Please notice the gloves, I use them when working with chiles for extended periods of time to keep me from itching my eyes with a chile-infused finger!

Pureeing the Chiles

It is easy to see why the name of “colorado” is applied to this sauce – look at that beautiful rich brick red color! My mouth was watering for most of the time after we pureed the chiles as the kitchen was filled with their aroma.

Finished Pureeing

There is not too much volume lost from the soaking stage to the pureed stage. This is the same bowl after we’ve finished pureeing all of the chiles.

Lots of Chile Sauce

Next up is toasting and grinding the spices and seasonings. We used a smaller cast-iron pan to toast the spices and release their aromas.

Toasting Spices

A molcajete is what we use simply because we have one. It is great for grinding spices and really working them to release their flavors and aromas. A food processor or blender can do much the same with less effort.

Grinding Spices

A few minutes later, here is what the ground spices look like, ready to be mixed into the chile mixture. At this point we’ve also pureed the onion and garlic and mixed it into the chile sauce.

Ground Spices

Now it’s time to mix it all together! This photo helps to show the scale of everything, as the whisk is almost a foot long and I’ve got my hand completely wrapped around it to work all of the purees and spices together.

Mixing Everything Together

After everything is mixed together and cooked at a slow simmer, we put it up in jars to freeze for later. We use pints, as this gives a generous amount of sauce without being too much after a couple of days. We leave about an inch or little more of space at the top to allow for expansion in the freezer.

Jar of Chile Sauce

All done except the clean-up! This particular batch made 17 pints of scrumptious chile sauce, with just a bit left over for the next morning’s eggs. This will give us almost a year’s worth of chile sauce.

Almost Finished

A close-up of the color and texture of the finished product. Well worth the work!

A Taste of Chile Heaven

Asparagus with Tomato Pesto Dressing

Asparagus adds a creamy foundation to the rich, flavorful and slightly spicy tomato pesto sauce in this unusual side dish. It is easy to make and adds taste and presence next to a hearty frittata or fresh spring dinner.

To cut the amount of time needed, make the pesto ahead of time. The flavor and heat can be adjusted by adding more chipotle and garlic to the pesto sauce. Make extra, as this is a hit once people taste the mixing of flavors!

Asparagus with Tomato Pesto Dressing

  • 1 Lb fresh asparagus
  • 1 Qt water
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/4 Lb Sun-dried tomatoes (not marinated)
  • 1 Chipotle pepper
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup Olive oil
  1. Cut woody ends from asparagus. Bring water to a boil with salt.
  2. When water is boiling, take some to cover tomatoes and Chipotle pepper in an inch of boiling water; set aside and let soak until soft, about 10 – 20 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes and pepper soak, add asparagus to pot and boil for 2 minutes to blanch.
  4. Drain and plunge into cold water to stop cooking, then drain.
  5. Drain tomatoes and pepper, put into food processor with 1/2 cup olive oil and garlic. Puree until well minced. Blend in additional oil to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Arrange asparagus spears on plate; pour pesto over top. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe Tip! If using pliable sun-dried tomatoes and Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, only soak in boiling water for 2 – 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

I grew up eating this green chile stew, or as we simply called it – green chile. Mention green chile in most places in the Southwest, and people will understand that you are talking about a bowl of stew, made with green chiles, herbs, sesonings and usually pork. We would make a huge batch of it in the fall, roasting, peeling, seeding and chopping upwards of 50 pounds of the Hatch New Mexican green chiles on the first day. The next day we would make the recipe in huge kettles on the stove to serve at Thanksgiving, Christmas and celebrations at the end of the year. What we didn’t eat immediately we would freeze for the coming year. Thanksgiving just wasn’t really complete without a bowl of green chile on the table, to be ladled over the turkey, mashed potatoes or in a bowl on the side to be savored all by itself. Christmas was much the same. That green chile was something to be looked forward to each time we took it out of the freezer for that night’s dinner.

We learned the foundation of this recipe from an old family friend from a small town in the state of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico. She grew up poor, so her family grew and raised almost all of their own food, including chiles that were used in almost all of their cooking. The flour and oil is used to make a roux, or thickening sauce that gives the dish a nutty flavor as a backdrop for the chiles and meat to take center stage. It takes a bit of time to make, so make a lot to freeze for later. It doesn’t take any extra time to make more, especially if you aren’t roasting, peeling, seeding and chopping the chiles yourself. You can order them directly from companies such as Biad Chile Company and get them delivered to your door, or go to your local farmer’s market where there will probably be a propane powered chile roaster spinning away, creating fresh roasted chiles right before your eyes.

This recipe will give you highly tasty, mild green chile. You can spice it up with hotter green chiles, or with some varieties of hot red chiles as you like. Green chile is ubiquitous in the Southwest, every family has their own take or twist on the basics, so no two are alike. In Santa Fe, you can go from one restaurant to another directly across the street and the tastes will be noticeably different, but delicious.

Here’s where the story takes a little jag. Last year we raised Navajo Churro sheep for the first time. After we got them back in little white packages, we tried them in this recipe, as we had run out of pork. It turned out to be one the best tasting green chiles that I had ever eaten. The Churro has just the right flavoring that pairs beautifully with the chiles to make an outstanding dish. Home or locally raised pork is also excellent, as it has much more flavor than commercially raised supermarket pork.

Serve with a garnish of chopped cilantro and a swirl of sour cream if you want to dress it up a bit. Warm tortillas are a great accompaniment. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Old Time Green Chile Stew

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oil – olive, coconut or vegetable
  • 2 – 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 – 6 cups water
  • 2 – 3 lbs Navajo churro lamb or home raised pork cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5 lbs Hatch mild green chiles, roasted, peeled and diced
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbs fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs whole cumin seed, roasted and freshly ground
  • 1 Tsp whole coriander seed, roasted and freshly ground
  • 1 Tbs Mexican oregano, lightly toasted and freshly ground
  • 1 Lb fresh tomatoes or 1 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 – 3 medium potatoes, diced (optional)
  1. Before starting, have onions, lamb/pork, green chiles and 2 cups water prepared and ready at hand.
  2. In a heavy stock pot, preferably cast iron, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is warm, add flour and brown to make a roux. Stir constantly with a spatula, reaching all parts of the bottom of the pan to keep flour from burning. The mixture will bubble and foam as it starts to brown, then settle into a smooth consistency. The color will change from white to an old copper penny color and the odor will go from flour and oil to a roasted aroma. Be careful not to burn the flour, as you will need to start over. If in doubt, stop browning at a slightly lighter color.
  3. To stop the browning process, add the onions and 2 cups water. It will hiss and steam as you add them, stir mixture well to cool roux and brown the onions. When onions have started to brown, add lamb/pork and brown.
  4. Add chiles and remainder of water, stirring well. While chiles start to simmer, roast cumin and coriander in small skillet over medium heat until they release their toasted aroma and add Mexican oregano at end to lightly toast. Grind them in mortar and pestle or food processer.
  5. Add herb mixture to chiles, along with garlic, salt and black pepper.
  6. Stir mixture well, reduce heat to a low simmer and check on every half hour or so until meat is tender and flavor has mingled well.
  7. If desired, tomatoes and potatoes can be added at start of simmering for a different flavor profile.

Makes plenty for a large dinner and enough to freeze 6 – 8 quarts.

Recipe Tip! This is a very mild “heat” with great flavor, but can be modified by using hotter chiles to suit your spice tolerance.

Herbed Dried Tomatoes

Here’s a recipe that will take a little preparation, but you will be thanking me for it later! Make a lot more of these dried tomatoes than you think that you will ever need, as once folks catch on to just how incredibly tasty these little jewels are, you will run out. You might want to hide some just for yourself!

These make beautifully presented, incredibly thoughtful gifts for the chef or serious home cook in your life. You cannot buy the flavor of these herbed tomatoes, anywhere, at any price. These will take a bit of time, but doesn’t require much hands-on time to make.

First, the tomatoes. Only heirloom tomatoes can really be considered, as the flavor is what you are after. The beauty of this process is that almost any tomato can be used, as the drying intensifies the flavors already present. Obviously, a paste tomato will give you a more substantial result. Good ones to look for are the plum and pear sizes with meaty walls, few seeds and a ton of flavor. If you don’t have these already growing in your garden, plan to plant some next year and look at your local farmer’s market. You will need a lot of fresh tomatoes, as they lose a lot of weight during drying. Plan on about 3 times the fresh volume as what you will get dried.

Drying them is the easy part. Wash them, slice and place on cookie sheets to dry. The oven is a great choice, as most gas fired ovens with a pilot light stay at around 90F or so. A consistently warm, sunny location is also good. If drying outside, cover with cheesecloth to prevent flies from snacking on your treats. Let them dry to a leather-like stage, then collect and start the marinating.

There are several different directions you can go with the herbs. A traditional approach is to use basil, oregano and garlic. A French approach would include lavender buds, Herbes de Provence with garlic. The strong punch of Mexican oregano accompanied by some smoked Jalapeno chiles, cumin and marjoram would be out of this world as well. Be creative, look at some herb combinations you enjoy and do some experimenting. The results will most likely be quite tasty!

We will start with the most basic recipe and then give you some alternatives to try. Use as you would sun-dried tomatoes – in soups, sauces, stews, bruschetta, pizza, spreads, salads or anywhere else the flavors would work well.

Herb Marinated Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 Cups dried tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 Tsp pickling salt
  • 2 Large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
  1. If tomatoes are crispy dry, put into 2 cups boiling water for 5 minutes to soften, then drain. If tomatoes are leather dry and still slightly pliable, you don’t need to soften them.
  2. Add herbs, salt and vinegar to bowl and mix or toss well. You want to have all of the herbs well mixed before adding the tomatoes.
  3. Pack tomatoes and herb mixture into a 12 ounce to 1 pint jar, being sure to coat the tomatoes well with the herb mixture. Leave a small space at top of jar. Add olive oil to top and cap jar.
  4. Store in a cool, dry, dark place. Once opened and for longer storage, keep in refrigerator.

Use these following recipes as the herb ingredients for the basic recipe above.

Herbes de Provence Marinated Dried Tomatoes

  • 2 – 3 Tbs Herbes de Provence
  • 3 Large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mexican Herbed Marinated Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 Tbs Mexican oregano, dried
  • 1 Tsp Sweet marjoram, dried
  • 1 Tsp Chipotle chile, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs Whole cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 Tsp Whole coriander seed, toasted and ground
  • 3 – 4 Large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Italian Herbed Marinated Dried Tomatoes

  • 2 Tsp Fresh Greek oregano
  • 1 Tsp Sweet marjoram
  • 1 Tsp Summer Savory
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Marseilles basil, chopped
  • 2 Large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Recipe Tip! Pickling salt is -simply put- fine, pure granulated salt. Grocery stores label it “canning and pickling salt”, health food stores call it “sea salt”. It is not table salt, which contains iodine and several other stabilizers and anti-caking agents that can ruin your pickles appearance.

Wheat and Lentil Soup

Catania is an old city on the south-east coast of Sicily, fronting the Ionian Sea. During the Renaissance, Catania was Sicily’s most important cultural, artistic, and political hub due in part to its major seaport. In 1434 the first university in Sicily was founded and today it is one of the main economic centers of the island and an important hub of technology and industry.

Cantine del Cugno Mezzano, located on the Via Museo Biscari is one of the chic restaurants in the old downtown that are reviving the ancient farm cuisines and elevating them to fine dining status. What is notable is that the flavors need no “freshening” or “elevating”, only the surroundings and atmosphere is needed to create the fine dining experience. The old recipes and locally sourced farm-grown ingredients are what make the flavors so memorable. The chef drives out to the surrounding countryside every weekend and goes from farm to farm on a well-established routine buying the foundations for the next week’s dishes.

This is a substantial and deeply satisfying, yet not heavy winter soup that has sustained farm families and farmhands for many generations. It is eaten during the cooler weather in Sicily on the farms, but is in demand year round in the restaurants. Get the best quality sausage possible, as it is the foundation of the flavors here. The smoked sweet and bittersweet paprika will add an intriguing depth of flavor to the soup, with the oregano backing them up. Another option to broaden the flavor profile is to use a home made beef stock instead of the water in the lentils, or split it in half. This freezes well to provide a delicious backup when time is short or plans change during the week.

Add some thick slices of fresh artisan peasant bread with butter and a good beer for a taste of what our ancestors ate after a long workday in the fields!

Zuppa Di Grano e Lenticchie

  • 1 Cup Wheat berries
  • 1 Cup Lentils
  • 6 Cups water
  • 3 Oz Italian sausage, diced
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thickly
  • 5 Oz Swiss chard or Kale leaves, stems removed, rinsed and coarsly chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Optional seasonings- 1/8 Tsp each of smoked sweet and bittersweet paprika, 1/2 Tsp oregano
  • Dollop of sour cream
  1. In a small heavy bottomed pot cover the wheat berries with plenty of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and reserve the cooking water.
  2. Using a cast-iron pot or flame proof clay pot, add lentils and cover with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat so that the lentils are just above a simmer until they just start to turn tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While lentils are simmering, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and onion and sautee for 5-7 minutes, until the onion just turns golden. Lower the heat, add the celery and carrots and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard or Kale, stir in and cook until dark green and just wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add wheat berries and sausage and vegetable mixture and stir well. Season with salt, pepper and optional seasonings if using. Add enough wheat berry cooking water to cover slightly and bring back to a boil, immediately reduce heat to a bare simmer and heat soup through, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add small dollop of sour cream if desired

Makes 6 servings

"Seasons of My Heart" Cookbook

Oaxan Sopa de Tomate con Albóndigas

One of my favorite Mexican cookbooks is titled Seasons of My Heart, by Susana Trilling.  Susana was a chef and owner of a restaurant in New York City and also owned a very successful catering business.  She left all of this to pursue her ethnic roots in Mexico around Oaxaca, sharing the food, culture and traditions of the cooking of the region.  She wrote this cookbook to showcase the native foods that are not well known outside the region.  Seasons of My Hearthas become hard to find but is well worth pursuing once you do find it.

Today I’m going to share a recipe called Albóndigas, or meatball soup.  Many people are familiar with Albóndigas as a clear broth with a couple of meatballs in it as an appetizer or first course.  This particular soup is more rural in nature, with the broth enriched by the onions and tomato puree.  Many people are are amazed to find that this is “Mexican food”, as it doesn’t have the characteristic emphasis on chiles and heat that most Americans are accustomed to seeing in Mexican food.  This is one of those perfect hearty winter soups that has an abundance of rich and savory flavors.  Make extra, as this soup keeps exceptionally well and will prove to be very popular.

Oaxan Sopa de Tomate con Albóndigas

For the meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mild chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the soup:

  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 medium white onions, finely chopped
  • One large leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cups thick tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic chives
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef with the pepper, salt, cumin and chili powder.
  2. Shape the mixture into tiny meatballs about the size of black cherries.
  3. In a heavy 4 quart stockpot, heat the oil over medium to high heat and brown the meat balls on all sides, for about 2 minutes, in small batches without crowding them.
  4. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. If there is extra oil in the stock pot, remove it, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
  6. Fry the onions and leek until they’re soft over medium heat, 4 to 6 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and season with the pepper and bay leaves.
  8. And the beef broth, tomato puree, and meatballs.
  9. Lower the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Add the salt, parsley and chives and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  11. Serve with garlic toast.

During the winter months, or cold weather, this is the type of soup that is very easy to make when you’re cooking out of your freezer with ingredients that you have prepared beforehand.  Making beef broth or beef stock is somewhat time consuming, but does not require constant attention and can be made in large batches, saving time later on.  Likewise, making tomato puree from extra tomatoes when your garden is in the height of production gives you a rich, fresh tomato taste in the dead of winter.

Please give this soup a try, and let us know what you think!

Here is another great recipe that takes advantage of the abundance of fresh vegetables out there now. This is an easy, foundational salsa recipe that is extremely tasty just as it is, but also lends itself very well to experimentation with whatever fresh vegetables you have available. Everything is roasted to bring out the fullness of the flavors, and to help them mingle better. I’ve been able to do an acceptable substitute in the winter with fresh frozen chiles from our garden, and canned Italian plum tomatoes!

This is one of those salsas that just grabs you by the taste buds and gets your attention. No matter if it is mild or hot, you keep coming back for “one more bite”, because it just tastes so good. When having guests over, a batch rarely lasts through the evening, when it’s at the height of its warm, rich goodness. Best cooked outside, this lends itself beautifully to doing fresh quesadillas, queso fundido, burgers or all three in succession on the grill, along with plenty of cold beer and good friends. Watching the late summer sun going down after a hot day and enjoying the salsa along with other great food is one of the memories that will be brought up many times.

I like using several kinds of chiles, some mild, medium and hot to bring more depth of flavor to my salsas. I will start picking the mild ones,  fewer of the medium, and less still of the hotter ones. This builds a base of flavor first, then heat. Don’t worry if it looks like you’re making tomato soup when you start roasting the tomatoes, everything will turn out just fine…

Roasted Fresh Garden Salsa

2 Lbs fresh tomatoes-diced.  Plum tomatoes are best, but use what is fresh- a couple of different kinds will give more depth of flavor! Dicing will help remove some of the excess juice.

3-4 Ripe red bell peppers– diced

10-15 Various Chiles to taste for heat- de-seeded, de-veined and diced

3-4 Ears fresh sweet or roasting corn– cut from the cob. About 1-2 Cups

5-6 Cloves garlic- sliced in 1/8 inch slices

1-2 Cups cooked Black beans (optional)

1 Tsp whole Cumin

1/2 Tsp whole Coriander

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tsp salt

1/2 Tsp fresh ground black pepper

Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

You’ll need a couple of large, heavy, shallow pans for roasting- preferable cast iron, as it retains the heat well and is easy to keep at the best temperature for roasting vegetables. The grill or outdoor stove is the best place to do the cooking, as the heat stays outside, and you get to enjoy the late afternoon! A couple of large bowls to hold the roasted vegetables and a large food processor or blender will be needed after everything is roasted.

Heat the pans to a medium heat, add the tomatoes to one pan, the bell peppers and corn  to another, and if you have a third pan- the Chiles to that one. Let them roast until their skins start to turn dark. The skins should be a little black in spots and starting to loosen from the fruit. This can take up to a half hour depending on the heat of your grill or stovetop. Stir and turn with a wooden spatula occasionally. You will see some sticking, especially with the tomatoes- this is ok. When the Chile skins are starting to turn dark, add the garlic to that pan. Remove the veggies when they are fully roasted and have dark skins with a few black spots on them. The corn should have a dark yellow color to it. Put them all together into a large bowl and cover.

Toast the cumin and coriander in a small heavy pan over medium heat for 2-5 minutes, until they release their aromas. You will see the seeds start to darken and release their aromas- move the pan off of the heat for a second or two, then return to the heat. Continue this until the rich toasted aroma tells you they’re ready. Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to a coarse ground consistency.

Add the vegetables to the food processor in batches if needed and process with a chopping blade until a chunky consistency is reached. Do not over process to a smooth or fine consistency- you will lose flavor. Repeat until all the vegetables are processed, and return to a large serving bowl. Add ground spices, Olive Oil, salt and ground black pepper. Add splash of Balsamic Vinegar and mix well. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Serve warm with chips, or in and on top of fresh hot quesedillas or accompanying queso fundido with chips.

Chicken Maque Choux is one of the most wonderful, rich and flavorful chicken dishes there is. This has been one of our favorites for years, and is absolutely best cooked at the end of summer, when the corn is rich and ripe with plenty of other fresh vegetables available to round out the chicken and sausage. Fresh vegetables are essential for the complementary flavors, but you can do this with frozen and canned ingredients in the winter. This is one of the reasons to freeze and can your own produce, to be able to capture the taste of late summer in the middle of winter…

“Maque choux” is a Cajun word meaning a dish smothered with fresh corn and tomatoes. This is a stew dish in consistency and needs some liquid in the bottom of the bowls. Provide soup spoons and plenty of fresh bread, as the liquid in the bowls is delicious!

This is the traditional recipe, using the entire chicken, but one can use breasts or thighs if needed. We use Olive oil to cook in, and cast iron as it holds the heat better and adds more flavor, I believe. This is one recipe where the freshest ingredients will really shine. Fresh, local chicken will make this a dish that everyone will remember.

The sausage is optional, as it does add to the richness of the dish. For a lighter dish, use just the chicken. Who cooks Cajun in a lighter way though? Seriously, though, the chicken by itself is very memorable!

Chicken and Sausage Maque Choux

1/4 Cup Vegetable oil or Olive Oil

2 Small fryers, cut up (Can cut into bite sized pieces if desired)

1/2 Pound hot Cajun or Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices (Optional)

4 Cups fresh corn cut off the cob, with cob liquid reserved (substitute 16 Oz frozen sweet corn if needed)

2 Tbs fresh heavy cream

3 Cups chopped onion

1 Cup chopped green pepper

2 large Beefsteak tomatoes, coarsely chopped (substitute Italian canned plum tomatoes if needed)

1/4 Tsp dried Thyme

1/4 Tsp dried Basil (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil)

1 Tbs finely minced fresh Parsley

2 fresh Thyme sprigs

1/2 Tsp cayenne, or to taste

3 Tsp salt

1 Tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

2-3 Tbs milk, if needed

Heat oil in a heavy 8-10 Qt pot or kettle over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil, turning often to brown evenly. When chicken is just starting to brown, add sausage if using, turning often. Reduce heat to low once sausage has started to cook and chicken is almost browned. Add onion and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Add corn, corn liquid and cream, mixing thoroughly.  Add green pepper, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Lower heat until mixture is just barely simmering, cook for 30-45 minutes. Check progress about every 15 minutes. Chicken and sausage should be very tender, chicken will be almost falling off bones. If dish is too soupy, uncover pot for last 15 minutes. If it is becoming a little too dry, add milk as needed.

Serve hot with fresh bread in soup or gumbo bowls. Make a full recipe, as everyone will go back for more, and it gets better the next day.

Today we have a new recipe that will work just about anywhere. I’ve used it when entertaining at home, at a friend’s house when cooking a shared dinner party and even when camping off road in our Land Rover! It lends itself to being cooked outside, which keeps the house cooler, and somehow increases the flavor…

It takes a bit of time, as this is a slow pan roast recipe, but is easy and you can do other prep or cooking while this is roasting. Total cooking time is around 30-45 minutes. Plan extra, as the flavor from the slow roasting is tremendous, and people will go back for more. That’s good, as this is real and healthy food! This is a perfect counterpart to barbecued chicken or burgers on a warm Spring evening. If you increase the vegetables and add warm fresh bread, this can be a light and healthy dinner in itself.

The eggplant must be fresh, as it can be bitter otherwise. Fresh means picked that day. If fresh is not available, leave it out. If you want an extra flavor, don’t peel the eggplant. This is the perfect showcase for fresh grown, heirloom ingredients, as the flavors will really shine. The ingredients are roasted in this order to bring out their flavors, as well as mingle them with the others. It is worth the time to do it in order!

Mediterranean Pan Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4-6

12 oz potatoes, cut into 1/2  inch cubes with skin on  (Red potatoes are preferred)

2 bell peppers- any color, cut into 1/2 inch squares

1 medium red onion, diced into 1/2 inch squares

1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 squares (Only use fresh eggplant to avoid bitterness)

3 or 4 cloves garlic, sliced

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp fresh chives

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

A large cast iron pan is best, but a heavy bottomed pan that retains heat well will also work.

Heat pan on medium heat, until thoroughly warm. A pan that is not heated all the way through will cause food to stick. Whisk balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, basil, oregano, chives and 1/2 tsp rosemary together and set aside.

Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to pan, coat pan well and add potatoes, coating with oil in pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally until they start to soften. Add onion and bell peppers, along with half of the rosemary and roast for 10 minutes, turning as well. Add eggplant and garlic, roasting for 5 minutes. Drizzle herb/oil/vinegar mixture over vegetables, stir well to coat and continue roasting until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more. Serve hot or let cool and store in refrigerator for next day to let the flavors set up and mingle.

Here are a couple of recipes that use fresh herbs- that you should soon have growing in your garden!

The first is the classic Basil Pesto. Make extra, freeze in small amounts for use later. We just finished using the last batch in a dinner that tasted like the height of summer. The second is a basic, classic tomato based pasta sauce that is not only easy to make, but lends itself to endless variations using what is fresh and on hand at the time.

You can easily have a fresh, incredibly tasty dinner on the table in 30 minutes with either of these recipes!

Basil Pesto Sauce

2 Cups fresh basil leaves, washed

3 cloves fresh garlic, mild flavored

2 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

1/2 Cup fresh grated aged Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Makes about 1 cup.

Place all ingredients except grated cheese in food processor and puree until smooth, usually about 1-2 minutes. Add in grated cheese, pulse till mixed well.

Add to soups for a bright and fresh flavor, use as a sandwich spread or add to hot freshly cooked pasta for heavenly pesto pasta.

As basil production increases, make large batches to freeze into small single serving containers for use in the winter when you want a taste of summer. Most people think of pine nuts as the only nut to use, but experiment with other nuts including almonds and sunflower seeds for different flavor combinations. Use different basils as well, for the different flavors that they will bring.

Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

1 Medium red onion, minced

1/2 Cup dry white wine

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

3 Medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 Tsp sugar

1/2 Tsp salt

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Cup fresh basil, chopped

Slow cook onion in wine over low heat in heavy bottomed sauce pan for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is reduced to a few tablespoons.

Add pepper flakes, tomatoes, olive oil, sugar, salt, Balsamic vinegar, and tomato paste. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened.

Add basil, then remove from heat. Let sit for a couple of minutes to infuse basil flavor into sauce, then serve over fresh hot pasta.

Makes about 3 cups. Can be easily frozen for a quick, healthy and tasty dinner.

You can easily add fresh carrot thinly sliced, fresh oregano, different types of basil, fresh fennel sliced thinly, or whatever sounds good at the time. Experiment with different flavor combinations, use what is fresh and available at the time for new and great tastes.

Connecticut Field Pumpkin

Here’s 3 great heirloom pumpkin recipes that we have used and enjoyed. Too often people think of pumpkin in a strictly Halloween or pumpkin pie way, when there are so many other unique and wonderfully tasty ways to enjoy it. Pumpkin is not only a fall or winter vegetable, but can be frozen or stored in a cold cellar environment for several months, in addition to the traditional canning. Please try these, enjoy and tell us what you think!

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe –  Pumpkin, Leeks and Thyme!

Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle Chile
This Southwestern recipe is a favorite of mine, as it is so unexpected yet delicious that everyone comes back for more. Vary the amount of chipotle, as a little gives a seductive smoky flavor and a little more adds some heat. Pie pumpkins will give a sweeter taste, but any heirloom pumpkin will give a rich, deep flavor once it is roasted. Any firm winter squash, such as acorn or butternut can also be used in addition or substitution for the pumpkin. You won’t believe how wonderful the flavor of fresh roasted pumpkin is! Do not use canned pumpkin, it will give the soup a canned flavor. Freeze extra soup in small quantities.
Servings: 10
  • 3 Lbs pumpkin
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 Leeks white parts only-finely sliced
  • 2 large shallots minced
  • 5 scallions finely sliced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh ginger minced
  • 1 Tbs pureed chipotle en adobo
  • 8 cups rich chicken stock- can use 4 cups stock and 4 of water for lighter flavor
  • 3 Tbs fresh thyme leaves or 1 Tbs dried
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream to taste
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Cut pumpkin in half, scrape out and save seeds, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes on heavy cookie sheet or roasting pan. Roast in oven at 400F for 20-30 minutes. If skin is very tough, add 1/4 cup of water to pan while roasting.
  2. Saute leeks, shallots and scallions in butter in a large heavy pot for 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, ginger and chipotle en adobo, cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir in the pumpkin, stock and thyme.
  5. Slow simmer for 45 minutes, until pumpkin is very soft.
  6. Puree in small batches in blender or food processor and return to pot.
  7. Add cream, taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed.

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe – Pumpkin, Onions, Chile, Cumin, Chives!

Warm Pumpkin Salsa
This is served on top of a flan or baked custard dessert, but can be used with many dishes as a counterpoint or accompaniment. Sweet, yet savory and a little spicy, this is another unusual use of pumpkin that wows friends and family. Everyone raves about this warm salsa, the time of year it is served and comes back for more. I even think it's pretty good over some real vanilla bean ice cream! Make a trial batch to see how the flavor evolves, then make extra when preparing for friends and family. It will go quickly!
Servings: 4
  • 2/3 cup small diced fresh pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup small diced tart apple- Granny Smith etc.
  • 2 medium red onions diced small
  • 1 1/3 Tbs coconut or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/4 Tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp ground red chile
  • 1/4 Tsp fresh ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2-3 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tsp minced red jalapeno chile- can use green jalapeno
  • 1 Tbs chopped chives
  • 2 Tbs roasted/salted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the pumpkin, apple and onion in canola oil in a heavy pan over medium heat until onion is slightly browned.
  2. Deglaze the pan with Marsala wine.
  3. Add spices, orange juice and brown sugar, cook over low heat until most of liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar, reduce slightly.
  5. Remove from heat, add jalapenos, chives and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed.

Here’s what could come out of your garden for this recipe – Pumpkin, Onions and Sage!

Pumpkin Soup with Sage
Simple yet rich in flavor, savory, hearty and deeply satisfying this pumpkin soup will do justice as an introduction to the Christmas meal. With the addition of meat such as turkey or ham, preferably smoked, this becomes a one dish main course that teams wonderfully with hot homemade biscuits.
Servings: 6
  • 1 small pumpkin- about 5 lbs.
  • 4 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 18 fresh sage leaves and 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 9 shallots halved lengthwise
  1. Quarter, seed and peel pumpkin, rub with olive oil and roast on baking sheet in 350F oven for 30 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool.
  2. In a heavy stock pot, melt 4 Tbs butter, then brown onions and garlic over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until onions are soft.
  3. Add pumpkin to mixture, continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and slow simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Puree soup in food processor or blender until just smooth.
  5. Return to pot, thinning with water if too thick. Keep soup warm on lowest flame and heat diffuser if needed.
  6. Heat vegetable oil and fry sage leaves until just crisp and drain on paper towels.
  7. Add to soup and keep warm.
  8. Drain oil, melt remaining 2 Tbs butter over medium heat and cook shallots until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and distribute 3 sage leaves and 3 shallot halves into each bowl.

Freezer Pickles – Easy, Simple, yet Delicious

This is a recipe that Cindy has used for several years and is always devoured at picnics. A lot of people ask for the recipe because the flavor is so outstanding! By freezing instead of boiling the brine a lot of unique flavors come out, as well as the fresh cilantro. It is very easy to do in small or large batches. We have used cucumbers and German Beer radishes, but just about any hard skinned vegetable can be used.

Cilantro Freezer Pickles
Prep Time
15 mins

Quick, easy, and absolutely delicious - these pickles will be the hit of your picnic, potluck, or dinner party! Freezing instead of boiling brings out flavors lost to the heat, as well as being the only way we've found of keeping the fresh summer cilantro flavor into the winter. 

Course: Appetizer
Keyword: freezer pickles
Servings: 4 Pints
  • 2 lbs. cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 2 cups sweet onions thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs pickling salt Kosher salt works and tastes great
  • 1 whole red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin freshly ground has better flavor
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped - homegrown tastes best
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  1. Wash and thinly slice cucumbers - do not peel, then thinly slice onions. There should be about 7 cups.

  2. Toss cucumbers and onions in a large bowl with salt, mixing well to evenly distribute the salt. Let stand at room temperature for 2 - 3 hours, then drain excess liquid but do not rinse.

  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, mix well and pour over vegetables, stirring well to mix. Refrigerate for 8 - 10 hours or overnight. 

  4. Pack the vegetables and brine in freezer-proof rigid containers and freeze. We like to use pint jars - they are the perfect size for a picnic or family BBQ. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion so the jars don't break. 

    When packing the vegetables, make sure the brine completely covers them to prevent freezer burn and ensure the best flavors. 

  5. Freeze for a minimum of 2 weeks to allow the flavors to mature and mingle. 

    To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and enjoy! 

    Be prepared to make an immediate, larger second batch!

Recipe Notes

Use a Cuisinart or other kitchen appliance to slice the vegetables and reduce your prep time to a few minutes! 

We've successfully used this recipe with large radishes, cucumbers of all kinds, and yellow beets. Almost any sturdy vegetable - root or otherwise - will pickle beautifully with this recipe. 

Making Cilantro Freezer Pickles

Thinly slice your vegetables – we use a Cuisinart or other type of kitchen slicing appliance – making this a 2-minute process! The photos are of two different recipes we did – one with white onions and the other with red ones.

Sliced Cilantro Freezer Pickles

Sliced Cilantro Freezer Pickles


Once your vegetables are sliced, brine them by adding salt to the vegetables and stirring them thoroughly to mix the salt in well. Let sit for a couple of hours – the exact time isn’t important, so don’t worry if it’s 3 hours, they will taste great! Strain out excess moisture from the vegetables, but don’t rinse – you need the salt for flavor and the pickling process.

Next, start the pickling process by mixing the herbs, sugar, and vinegar in a separate bowl, then pour over the brined vegetables. This starts the pickling process.

Pickling Cilantro Freezer Pickles

Pickling Cilantro Freezer Pickles


After refrigerating them overnight, pack your newly-pickled vegetables into jars or freezer-proof containers. We use pint-sized Mason jars, which are just enough for a family picnic or supper or a BBQ. If there is a larger crowd, we’ll take two.

Packed Cilantro Freezer Pickles

Packed Cilantro Freezer Pickles


Leave enough room for the pickles to expand without breaking the jars – about 1 inch, and make sure to cover the vegetables with brine for the best flavor and to prevent freezer burn.

Let the flavors mature and mingle for at least 2 weeks before serving. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve cold.

Rosa Bianca Eggplant

I’ve never liked eggplant. The taste was bitter but past that, remarkably bland with a similar texture. Not that exciting.

So I decided to grow some this year.  This is something I recommend against to my customers- “Grow what you like to eat”  is what I advise.

My reasons for growing something that I don’t like are simple;  I also don’t like supermarket tomatoes, yet  love the ones that I grow.  I wanted to try one eggplant to see if it was different than what I had tasted before. It’s the supermarket vs. homegrown argument on a different level.  Supermarket tomatoes are merely tasteless, whereas eggplant is unpleasant to me.

The first eggplant of the season was ready yesterday. A medium gorgeously purple beauty, surprisingly light in weight. I pulled the cookbooks out to see what made sense to try that would showcase the flavor of the eggplant and didn’t require the oven on for an hour, or at all. Marcella Hazan came to the rescue once again. She is an incredible chef and writer of the lesser known Italian cooking that most of us have never experienced. You  get the recipe, and the reasons for the actions taken in the cooking and why to not shortcut the steps. Flavors are described in detail and reasons behind the techniques are given, something I’ve rarely seen. The stories behind each recipe are compelling as well, something I love from the heirloom seeds.

The recipe I tried is Eggplant Sauce with Bell Pepper, Tomato and Basil. I’ll give it to you at the end. The freshly sliced eggplant was not bitter, but had a slightly sweet flavor that compounded the smell of the fresh eggplant. I salted it according to the directions, which made it sweeter. I chose this recipe as it used more fresh ingredients from our garden. I’ve got some wonderfulGenovese Basil that has an incredible aroma and holds up in cooking. I don’t have the bell peppers or tomatoes yet, so will try it again when another eggplant is ripe.

The overall character is complex and slightly spicy with many individual flavors that come through, yet is in harmony as no single flavor overpowers another. Italian flavor at it’s finest! The flavors are not overbearing, as most common American Italian cooking has become, but are lively and pleasing. This is a lighter dish, perfect for summer cooking, and can be done outside on a grill if one is experienced at outdoor cooking, not just barbecuing. This is a dish I would prep ahead of time to do trail side at the end of a long day exploring the backcountry of Arizona or the Southwest. It’s not hard, but attention and patience are needed to bring the flavors out! The small investment of time is well worth it.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 lbs eggplant


1 ripe bell pepper (yellow is best, but make sure it’s ripe)

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves sliced very thin

1/8 Tsp crushed red pepper or to taste

2 Tbs Italian flat leaf parsley- whole leaves, not chopped

1/3 Cup thinly sliced onion

1 Cup ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped. Canned Italian tomatoes will work.

1/3 Cup dry white wine

6 small basil leaves or 4 large ones, torn not cut into small pieces

6 green olives in brine, quartered

1 1/2 Tbs capers

1 Lb box dry pasta, penne is good choice

Slice eggplant in half. If seeds are dark, or if there a lot of seeds, scoop seeds out. Cut eggplant into 1 inch squares, put into colander rinse in cold water. Salt and let set for 45 minutes. This brings out the bitter liquid if there is any. Rinse again afterwards.

Split bell pepper in half, scoop out seeds and pith, then peel skin with swivel peeler. This removes the bitterness in the skin once cooked. Cut into thin strips.

Warm 3 Tbs olive oil in 10 inch skillet, then add garlic and chili pepper. Increase heat to medium, no more. Stir often just until garlic scent rises, no more.

Add whole parsley leaves. Careful, they will pop and sputter for a couple of seconds. Stir a couple of times, add onion and turn heat to low. Cook slowly until onion is soft. This increases the flavor by cooking slowly, and the garlic flavor is not entirely lost.

Add pepper strips, some salt and cook until pepper starts to be tender. Stir occasionally. You should have some liquid starting to build in the bottom of the pan.

Add eggplant, tomatoes, wine, basil, olives and capers. Stir several times to mix well. Slowly simmer with lid on for 40 minutes, watching liquid level. It should slowly decrease, and have almost no liquid at the end. Add a small amount if it looks dry. Stir occasionally during the simmer. Crack lid if too much liquid is remaining about 15 minutes before the end, or when you put the pasta water on.

Time cooking the pasta so its done just before the sauce, about 7-10 minutes. Toss pasta with sauce,  adding 1 more Tbs olive oil and serve hot. Cheese is really not needed, but you can add a small amount of pecorino if you want. Don’t drown the delicate sauce in cheese!

Enjoy and let me know what you think! Please leave a comment!

 Restaurant-Style Zuppa Toscana

Based on a popular restaurant starter soup.


  • 1 (16 ounce) package smoked sausage
  • 2 potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups kale – washed, dried, and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chicken soup base
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Place sausage links onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until
    done. Cut links in half lengthwise, then cut at an angle into 1/2-inch
  3. Place onions and bacon slices in a large saucepan and cook over medium
    heat until onions are almost clear. Remove bacon and crumble. Set
    aside. Note- You can saute the kale at this step for extra richness in its flavor!
  4. Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1 minute. Add chicken
    soup base, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes. Note- This is where I prefer to add my kale! Russian kale will take the simmer without losing its texture and flavor.
  5. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.

Stir-Fried Kale and Broccoli Florets

Good for an unusual side dish. Can be used for a light fall lunch or dinner starter.


  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 chile pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in thin strips
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Stir in garlic and chile pepper; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in broccoli; cook 1 minute. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in lime juice, and season with salt to taste. Toss well.

Pork Tenderloin with Steamed Kale

Amazing showcase of pork and kale. For extra flavor, marinate the tenderloin for a couple of hours, up to overnight.


  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small bowl , whisk olive oil with lime juice. Season with cilantro, garlic salt, and peppercorns. 
  2. Brush the pork tenderloin with three tablespoons of the lime dressing. Wrap in aluminum foil, and place on in a large baking dish. Roast in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.  Note- can be slow grilled on indirect heat on a BBQ if the weather is too hot or you want a smoky flavor!
  3. While the tenderloin is cooking, place kale in a steamer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. You can saute the kale now for a more intense flavor.
  4. Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Serve on top of the kale. Whisk the remaining dressing, and drizzle over pork and kale. Make sure to serve the kale under and on the side of the pork, don’t just use it as a garnish! It adds a depth of flavor to the pork.

There is some starters for what to do with kale. There are a lot of great bean/sausage/kale recipes that will keep you warm this fall and winter. Please let me know what you think,  and share your experiences.

Happy eating!