Pork and Ricotta Meatballs

I’ve been making this recipe for years. The results are a tender, delicious meatball with endless possibilities. Serve them over spaghetti with tomato sauce, glazed in jam for an appetizer, or simply with a side of Romesco as I have here. I used ground pork, but you can use any meat you like including ground chicken as in the original recipe. I would imagine that already spiced up breakfast sausage would also be delicious, just reduce the seasonings! In the summertime, I swap the rosemary for basil — use what speaks to you and the seasons. You really can’t go wrong. My family prefers straight up meatballs without the bread, but you can certainly add in breadcrumbs if desired.

Ricotta Meatballs 

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 stalks of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tspn. salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

DIrections:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. In a small saute pan, saute the onion until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Set aside to cool down. 
  3. Set up a sheet pan and line with a silpat mat, parchment paper or tin foil. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, cheese, rosemary, cooled onion/garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined. 
  5. Form the mixture into meatballs and arrange on the sheetpan. 
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes. Turning the meatballs and pan about 15 minutes in. They should get nice and brown spots. 

Pictured here with a romesco sauce, one of my favorites, find it here

Roasted Beet and Garlic “Pesto” Pasta

Pesto is a stretch to apply here, but the technique is similar by replacing the basil with beets!

My family and I have been making and enjoying a version of this recipe for several years. I grew up not knowing or tasting beets because my dad strongly dislikes them. When I was an adult and tasted them for the first time, I thought I’d gone to heaven:  an earthy, sweet root vegetable  — yumm! Beets are for sure my spirit vegetable! I was always looking for new ways to cook them. When I had kids, well, let’s just say beets can be tough for some people. I came up with this approachable recipe and it is now lovingly called “Pink Pasta” at my house. Each year when we pull the beets out of the garden I can count on my kids to start chanting for, “Pink Pasta!” Hope y’all enjoy it too! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 small bunches of beets or 1 large bunch (aiming for 1.5 lbs of the roots)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • ¼ cup ricotta, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper, crushed red pepper
  • Arugula or other micro/greens, for serving
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked

Directions: 

1 – Preheat the oven to 400. Roast beets and garlic. Trim the greens and roots off the beets. Place on top of a large piece of foil, drizzle with oil, wrap up with foil and place in the oven for about an hour. A knife should pierce through them without any resistance when they’re done. Remove and let cool. 

2 – With the garlic, trim the top of the garlic cloves off. Place whole head of garlic on a small piece of foil, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and wrap up in foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and let it cool. Note about picture: I was out of foil and just roasted in a small pan!
3 – Toast your almonds. Set aside to cool. 
4 – Once beets are cool enough to handle, you should be able to slip the skin right off by lightly rubbing and removing the peel. Chunk the beets up into smaller pieces with a knife and place in food processor. 
5 – Remove each garlic bulb from the skin. You can do this with a knife/fork by picking them out or give the whole thing a squeeze so that the roasted garlic pulp comes out straight into the food processor. 

6 – Add toasted almonds, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup ricotta, and season with salt and pepper. Turn it on and process it into a creamy sauce for a few minutes, scraping down the sides to ensure consistency. 
7 – Place into a large bowl. When pasta is ready, place hot pasta on top of the beetpesto  and toss to combine! You may reserve some hot pasta cooking liquid and add this to the bowl to create an even more luxurious sauce. 
8 – To serve, place a scoop of pasta on your plate/bowl, top with another scoop or ricotta, arugula greens, and crushed red pepper, if that’s your thing. 


Spring Green Shakshuka



Spring Green Shakshuka
This first appeared in the Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter, edited by Ellie Sharp

Traditional shakshuka is a spiced tomato-based egg dish that originates in Israel where it is served for breakfast. In the United States it is more popular in the evening and is a perfect eggs-for-dinner-kinda-meal. Since tomatoes aren’t yet in season locally, I created an alternative by highlighting fresh greens. A bed of local spring ingredients really showcases the beauty of goose eggs. And, wow, the goose eggs are truly spectacular. Chicken and duck eggs are great, too, and can be used in place of goose eggs. You can easily swap the base of spring greens with whatever you have on hand: sub in kale and spinach for the Swiss chard and escarole; use asparagus instead of Brussels sprouts. Do try to include escarole if you can! If you haven’t tried it, this dish is a perfect intro for you as its nuttiness really comes through. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB butter
  • 3 to 4 small leeks or 1 bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup of Brussels sprouts, quartered 
  • 1 small bag of baby Swiss chard, chopped
  • ½ head of escarole, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Goose eggs (2-4 depending on the size of your pan)
  • Goat cheese
  • Pea shoots dressed in vinegar (optional but highly recommended)


Directions:
 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Select a large, oven-safe sauté pan. 
3. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the leeks and Brussels sprouts, sautéing until they start to soften. Add the chopped greens and minced garlic and cook just until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Be careful to not to cook too much here as everything will go into the oven soon. 
4. Using a spatula, create “dents” in the greens into which you will crack the eggs. I used 3 goose eggs, so I made three nice dents/craters in the greens. Crack eggs into place. Season each egg with salt and pepper. 
5. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes depending on how well done you want your eggs. If you like your eggs easy, start checking at 15 minutes for their firmness. If using chicken eggs, start checking around 6 minutes. You can gently shake the pan to see how set the egg whites are. 
6. When ready, remove from the  oven and top with crumbled goat cheese. Add pea shoots in the center (microgreens make an excellent substitute) and drizzle everything with a few splashes of a nice herbal/finishing vinegar. You know you have that weird one in the back of your pantry and this is a great time to use it!   

Roasted Baby Hakurei Turnips with their Greens

This article was first featured in the Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter

Baby Hakurei turnips are in full force right now. They are easy to grow and have a shorter window to maturity than a traditional turnip, making them an appealing crop for fall, winter, and spring. They are great as a cover crop, helping loosen and prepare beds for summer crops and recover after them.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t like turnips!” Then you might try these. The roots are smaller, sweeter, and less turnip-y than the average purple topped traditional ones. Because of their shorter growing window, the greens reap the same benefit and are not as bitter and bug infested either!

Roasting the roots, enhances the natural sweetness and worked with the slightly bitter greens, they are truly delicious. This makes an excellent side for supper or a great little farmers lunch. Either way, you should try this super-simple way to introduce tender baby turnips and greens into your repertoire!

Ingredients:
2 bunches of baby Hakurei turnips with their greens
2 TB neutral oil
Salt and pepper
½ small onion, sliced or chopped
2 slices thick cut bacon, jowl or fatback chopped into small pieces
1 TB apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Directions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

2. Remove the greens from the roots. Wash roots to remove any dirt and slice greens into ribbons and wash. 

3. Cut turnips in half or fourths if large. On a baking sheet, toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside. 

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon/fatback and render until crispy. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Reduce heat to low, add greens to the skillet, stirring until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Taste and add more seasonings, as needed. 

5. Serve the roasted turnips over the greens!    

Spanakopita Quiche

Originally appeared in the Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter, Edited by Ellie Sharp

The bounty of spring brings to mind eggs, greens, and dairy! I know everybody is making quiche and frittata these days, but I wanted to introduce something that’s a little different: spanakopita-inspired quiche! This rich and savory dish brings Greek flavors to your table any time of day, and takes full advantage of local ingredients. You will need to purchase a few items from the store, but it’s more than worth it!

If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough before, you can find it in the freezer section next to puff pastry and pie dough shells. Make sure to thaw it the night before so it’s ready to go when you are ready to cook. Phyllo dough can be finicky: it dries out quickly and the super-thin sheets make it a blessing and a curse — difficult to work with but a joy to eat. For this recipe, it doesn’t need to be perfect, and tearing will add to the rustic plating, but do make sure you take the time to prep your ingredients and work space so that you can twork quickly once you unwrap the dough.

A note about equipment. I used a 10-inch springform pan so that I could remove the “collar” or side of the pan for a pretty presentation. This is totally not necessary and this recipe will work in a regular 9 inch pie pan! However, if you do use a 10-inch springform pan, I do recommend adding 2 more eggs (for a total of 6 eggs) as it’s a bit bigger and fills out nicer. I made the recipe both ways with equal success. 

Ingredients

  • ½ package of phyllo dough
  • 4 TB. butter, melted
  • 1 TB butter or cooking oil of choice
  • 1 package of large scallions/spring onions, diced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb greens – I used a combination of swiss chard and spinach to mix it up
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • S & P
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped herbs – dill, parsley, oregano, chives are all good choices
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Defrost phyllo dough in the fridge the night before. Take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while you start prepping the quiche filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400. 
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter/heat oil and add onions. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Start adding greens in batches, stirring to wilt and incorporate. Continue adding until all greens are cooked down, reserving one small handful of spinach leaves for the top. 
  5. While this happens, you can whisk eggs in a bowl with the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
  6. When all greens have wilted down, season the skillet with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. Turn the heat off, taste and adjust seasonings. 
  7. Set up your phyllo dough station. Unwrap phyllo dough and set next to melted butter with a brush. Using your preferred quiche pan, brush the insides with melted butter. Start by removing one phyllo sheet and covering the bottom of the pan. Brush lightly with butter. Place another sheet down in the other direction to cover the bottom thoroughly and brush with butter. Now, work on draping the sheets of dough over the pan. Brush each lightly with butter, and continue draping the sheets of dough to cover the sides and bottom of the pan while creating a large overhang on the outside of the pan. If you need to walk away or notice your phyllo dough drying out very quickly, you can cover it with a very lightly damp dish towel that will help! I used roughly 15-20 sheets of phyllo dough. I still had some leftover that I wrapped up for another use. 
  8. Next, spread the greens over the dough, spreading out in an equal layer. Top with whisked eggs/milk. Finally, top with crumbled feta cheese.
  9. Fold the hanging dough on top of the quiche. You may have to crinkle it a bit to make sure you can visually see the greens in the center. Drizzle remaining butter all over the top of the phyllo.
  10. Bake the quiche at 400 for about 35 minutes until the dough is browned and crunchy and the eggs are set (if it jiggles in the center, the eggs may need another minute or two)! 

Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Gnocchi

This was first featured on the Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter in October 2021.

Recipe and pictures by Amanda Callahan, Edited by Ellie Sharp

I’m a big fan of “sheet pan” meals — those glorious, easy-peasy all-in-one dishes perfect for quick and healthy dinners. They are incredibly versatile and (mostly) require minimal attention. Think of them as an ideal “clean out the fridge” technique great for pairing local ingredients you often don’t know what to do with: combine proteins, veggies, and starches however you feel moved. I love putting fresh greens on the top toward the end of cooking, too, like in this recipe! 

My friend recently passed along a huge sweet potato from his garden, and I had a bunch of radicchio that I honestly didn’t have a plan for but was excited to use. I thought both would pair well with sausage and debated how to proceed. I was leaning towards a soup, but then remembered I had a couple packages of cauliflower gnocchi in the freezer, and I LOVE roasted gnocchi. Whether it’s frozen cauliflower gnocchi or the shelf stable potato based gnocchi, if you haven’t tried roasting it, you’re missing out my friends! Gnocchi is traditionally boiled like pasta, but when roasted the edges become brown and toasty taking on a nutty flavor that is perfection when paired with fall flavors like sweet potatoes and sage. 

Try this easy sheet pan meal this week and make sure to snap a pic and tag us on social media! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced 
  • 1 onion, sliced 
  • 2 packages of cauliflower gnocchi (10 oz each), frozen, or 1 package of potato gnocchi (16 oz.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (about 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper)
  • About 10 sage leaves, chiffonade (sliced thinly)
  • 2 stalks of rosemary, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 bunch of local radicchio, sliced into ribbons or substitute kale
  • Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Use two sheet pans (pictured here is just one, however, my sheet pans are full sized and most people have half sized, so use two for better browning of ingredients) and cover each with a Silpat mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil. 
  3. Place sweet potatoes, onion, and gnocchi onto the pans. Drizzle everything with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, garlic, and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Toss everything to combine. Spread out evenly. Break up the sausage with your hands and nestle small pieces of the sausage among the potatoes and gnocchi. 
  4. Place it in the oven for 25 minutes. The sweet potatoes and gnocchi should be beginning to brown. 
  5. In a small bowl, toss the radicchio with the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Remove pans from the oven. Toss all the ingredients on the sheet pans. Scatter radicchio on top. Place back in the oven and cook for an additional five minutes until the radicchio starts to crisp on the edges. 
  7. Remove and serve with cheese and crushed red pepper, if desired.