Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

20121108-090257.jpgFarm fresh sweet potatoes from our NC farmers!

Our Produce Box local veggie delivery service is ending soon (just for the winter), so I’ll be ordering a stock up box of sweet potatoes to take me through the holidays. This will be a LOT of sweet potatoes! This recipe makes good use of them, along with chorizo sausage from Mae Farm and Swiss chard (you could also use kale). We even made these ahead, wrapped them in foil and took them tailgating with us (if you do this, I recommend making these as burritoes instead–easier to eat). You could substitute the chorizo for soyrizo or just leave it out and you would have a great vegetarian meal.

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Quesadillas (makes 4)

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a fork
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 c. Swiss chard (about 1 bunch), trimmed and chopped
  • 1 lb. chorizo sausage
  • 1/2 c. black beans (cooked or canned–not dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast sweet potatoes in oven for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (you can do this the night before).
  2. Remove potato skins, transfer potato flesh to a small bowl and mash until smooth.
  3. While potato is cooking, crumble the chorizo into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown. Use the back of a wooden fork to break up any large pieces. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  4. Reserve 3 tbsp. of drippings and discard the rest. Heat reserved drippings over medium low heat and add onion. Saute onion until caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in Swiss chard and sausage and continue to cook until greens are wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Combine black beans and paprika in a small bowl.
  7. Divide sweet potato, sausage mixture and beans evenly onto 1/2 of each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold empty half over the filled half.
  8. Put quesadillas on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and brush tops with olive oil.
  9. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Serve with salsa and a green salad!

Pumpkin Pasta

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Pumpkin is everywhere right now. In coffee, on bagels, baked in cookies, whipped into mousse, roasted, stewed and frozen. Try to avoid it. I dare you. Rather than run away from the squash invasion, I’ve embraced pumpkin and its similar fall vegetables butternut squash and acorn squash.

This pasta is coated with a thick, savory sauce that has the texture of a creamy pasta sauce without all the fat. Perfect for a chilly, fall night when you crave something as rich as mac and cheese, but still need to lace up your running shoes and move forward. This recipe is based on one for Creamy Pumpkin Pasta by A Bird and a Bean, but it reduces the fat content, ups the pumpkin and reduces the amount of meat without sacrificing flavor. Think of this as a foodie version of a cozy fleece jacket–warm, comforting and satisfying. We used a wonderful, smoked, lean Canadian bacon from Mae Farm, and this added a tremendous amount of flavor with very little meat (saving fat and $$$). If you don’t have Swiss chard, you can easily replace it with chopped, fresh spinach or another mild green.

Embrace pumpkins and fall greens this fall!

Pumpkin Pasta (makes 4 servings)

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 small, sweet onion, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces smoked Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth (or 1 can)
  • 1/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, black pepper
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 lb. ceccerece pasta (or similar shaped pasta like macaroni)
  1. Heat water for pasta in a large stock pot.
  2. While water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes or until onion softens. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped Canadian bacon and cook until warmed through–about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove vegetables and meat from the pan.
  5. Add the stock and whisk to deglaze the pan, bringing up all the brown bits (they have lots of flavor).
  6. Whisk in the almond milk, pumpkin, sour cream, nutmeg, pepper and sage, and whisk well.
  7. Add the onion mixture back to the sauce and the chard, and keep warm over low heat.
  8. Cook the pasta according to directions and drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  9. Add the cooked pasta and cheese to the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta well with sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta water to thin. Pasta sauce should coat and stick to the pasta.
  10. Serve immediately.

Food Safety and the Fall Garden

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Many of us know how to put a plant in the ground and give it some basic TLC to get it growing. But how do we make sure that the gardens we plant yield safe food that will not unintentionally make us sick? And what can we do to make sure children working with us are safe? The North Carolina organization, Advocates for Health in Action have a new web-based resource to address those issues. While it is primarily designed for people starting community gardens, I found plenty of tips for my own home garden!

Here is the link to the booklet.

Are you planting a fall garden? Ours will go in this weekend and we are planting kale, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage and maybe some broccoli. Here in North Carolina, I can plant these greens and have fresh greens all winter long! As long as you don’t pull up the plant roots, you can cut the greens you need and the plant will continue to produce all winter. It was an incredibly successful yield for us!

What are you planting in your fall garden? Happy (and safe) fall gardening!

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Eggs

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Is there a culinary Easy Button? I mean, one that doesn’t involve pizza delivery? Because some nights, I just want things to be easy. If I have to defrost or measure, it’s too much work. Do you have those nights? I’m guessing it’s not just me. This recipe is becoming one of my “go to” meals for those nights. You only need one pan, a cutting board, a knife, a spoon and a spatula. And the whole dish cooks in about 20 minutes. What’s not to love?

Adding to the love, the Swiss chard in our garden is going berzerk. Swiss chard is super easy to grow, pretty to look at with its multicolored stems and it keeps growing even after you cut it. Did I mention it’s a super food? Yep, it sure is. It’s a miracle plant, I tell you. If you have a little patch of soil or a raised bed, I highly recommend growing these greens.

A note about fungi. This recipe uses mushrooms, which I know are a controversial vegetable (or fungus?). Regardless, people either love them or hate them. I personally love them, Ellie hates them. If you have haters in your family, just substitute something else for the mushrooms. Red bell peppers would be good, especially if they are roasted. Or even white beans. Go crazy!

Eggs cooked in a nest of chard and mushrooms--easy and healthy!

Eggs cooked in a nest of chard and mushrooms–easy and healthy!

One thing you should not skimp on with this recipe are the eggs. Eggs are a centerpiece in this dish, so use the best, freshest eggs possible. You can cook the eggs to your preference, but I like the yolks runny–they become magic with the greens. This is one good place to use those $4.00/dozen farm eggs because you will really taste the difference.

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Eggs (serves 2)

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, rinsed well to remove any sand
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Trim the stems off the Swiss chard and dice into similar sizes to the onion. Add chopped stems to the onion.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and chard stems. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft and stems have started to soften. Stir well. Season to taste.
  3. Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 2 minute, stirring well to keep vegetables from getting too brown.
  4. Chop the Swiss chard leaves and add to the pan. Keep turning the greens with the other vegetables until the greens are coated with olive oil and juices. Saute until the greens are wilted. Reduce heat to medium/low
  5. Take your spoon and flatten the greens and veggies. Make four depressions in the greens.
  6. Crack one egg into each depression. Season top with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes, until eggs are opaque and set, but yolks are still runny.
  7. Remove from heat and use a spatula to divide the pan of greens in half. Lift greens carefully with eggs intact and plate.
  8. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

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Quesadillas have come a long way, baby. Back in the day (the 80s for me), restaurants that served quesadillas to us suburban folk stuck pretty much with overly salty cheese and maybe chicken. I thought they were the most boring of all Tex-Mex foods. Really though, they are a genius way to make the most of little bits of leftovers, and the flavor combinations are pretty much endless. This recipe is based on one from Sugar Dish Me (HERE is the original recipe) and we really like it. It has a great combination of flavors and is very high in good-for-you veggies.

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We used a very large, leftover sweet potato, some Swiss chard from our garden, leftover black beans and some chorizo sausage from Mae Farm. You can top your quesadillas with whatever you like. We are using our homemade tomato salsa and some unflavored Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

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You could go vegan with this by leaving off the meat, cheese and sour cream and it would still be awesome.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas (serves 4)

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 large or 2 small organic sweet potatoes, roasted
  • 1 lb. bulk hormone free chorizo sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 bunch organic Swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cup of cooked (or canned) organic black beans
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 jar homemade (or store bought) salsa (optional)
  • 1 small container of unflavored Greek yogurt (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and bulk sausage. Brown sausage and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Remove all but 2 tbsp. of the fat from the pan. Return pan to heat and add onions and Swiss chard. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until onion is starting to brown and chard is wilted. Remove from heat.
  4. Chop the chipotle peppers and set aside.
  5. Mash sweet potato flesh until smooth and set aside.
  6. Spread sweet potato puree on half of each tortilla.
  7. Top sweet potato with about 1/2 cup of cooked sausage.
  8. Top sausage with onion/chard mixture.
  9. Top onions with black beans and peppers.
  10. Top the beans with shredded cheese.
  11. Fold the empty side of the tortilla over the filled side to make a half circle. Press down a bit to make it all stick together.
  12. Put filled tortillas onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  13. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut each quesadilla into 2-3 triangles. Plate and serve with your choice of condiments!

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