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. 


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. 

Asian Style Bowls

This recipe first appeared on the CAFE newsletter in April 2020

Recipe and words by Amanda Callahan, edited by Ellie Sharp

The “bowl” has become one of the easiest, tastiest and most versatile ways to get a satisfying dinner on the table. You can customize a bowl menu to your family’s taste — Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean — and the combinations within each profile are endless. I try to prepare everything in one pan for easy cleanup. And, if you plan ahead and chop ingredients ahead of time, this meal is usually ready in about 30 minutes. Provided here is my Here’s a super-simple take on an Asian-style bowl. 

First, start with a protein base. I like to use ground pork (pictured), but any ground meat will work well. Chicken and turkey are lovely! If you don’t have ground meat, use finely chopped or sliced chicken breast. I haven’t tried meat substitutes like crumbled soy, “scrambled” tofu or Beyond beef products, but I imagine even they would soak up the delicious Asian flavored sauce, too.

Asian greens are superb AND in season right now — perfect for this dish! Varieties like mizuna, and bok choy are ideal, but feel free to experiment with what you like or want to try. Kale is a good option as is a 50/50 mix of spinach and dandelion greens. Endive, mustard and arugula will all be delicious, too. If you prefer to stick with an old favorite, you can use classic cabbage.

A final note on seasonings: this is a great chance to use that bottle of Asian sauce or seasoning you bought for that one recipe that one time and is now hiding in the back of the fridge or pantry. Mirin, hoisin, and miso would all be exquisite. This recipe is just a template for basic Asian flavors using standard pantry ingredients. But go wild and experiment with what you’ve got! I have a bottle of pickle wine (!?!?). It definitely makes it into my Asian bowls.

I just can’t get enough of the amazing local mushrooms currently available and those are the next essential ingredient in my bowls. Any mushroom will do! Don’t like mushrooms? You can use a umami, flavor packed substitution such as frozen shelled edamame or cook broccoli, green beans, or asparagus over high heat with soy sauce until crisped on the edges. In the summertime, eggplant is my favorite to include. 

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 TB high heat tolerant oil, divided (examples: coconut, avocado, canola)
  • 1 small onion, minced (scallions are a great substitute but don’t need to cook as long!)
  • 1 rounded TB grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 lb ground meat or meat substitute
  • 3 TB good quality soy sauce or tamari* see note at the bottom
  • 1 tspn. Asian chili paste or sriracha (more if you like it spicy!)
  • 2 TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tspn. Honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tspn. sesame oil
  • 12 oz. oyster or shiitake mushrooms, sliced (or any fresh mushrooms you like)
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • Splash of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 large bunch of greens (such as bok choy, pictured)
  • Salt and pepper
  • For serving: rice or cauliflower rice, ½ cup kimchi, sriracha, sesame seeds, scallions

Directions:

  1. Over medium high heat, melt 1TB oil and add the onion and ginger. Saute for about two minutes. Add the meat. Break up the meat and disperse among onions. When the meat is almost done and there’s a bit of pink left, add ⅔ of your minced garlic. Incorporate well. 
  2. Turn heat down to low and add soy, chili paste, vinegar and maple syrup. Combine well and cook for a few minutes. Add the sesame oil and turn off the heat. Dump meat mixture into a separate bowl and keep warm. 
  3. Using the same pan, heat 2 TB oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms release their juices. The mushrooms will soak up all the oil. If needed, and the pan gets too dry and mushrooms start to burn, you can add more oil. After about six to eight minutes, the mushrooms should start to look juicy. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and reserved ⅓ minced garlic. Cook for another minute or two. Taste for seasoning (I needed to add a pinch of salt and pepper). Move mushrooms to a small bowl and keep warm.
  4. Heat another 1 TB oil in a pan over medium high heat and add greens. Cook over high heat to slightly wilt and brown around the edges. Lightly salt and pepper. Add mushrooms back in and heat back up. Turn heat off. Taste for seasonings again and adjust to taste. 
  5. To serve, divide the rice, meat and veggies into bowls and top with kimchi, extra sriracha and sesame seeds. 

* I use a super high quality mushroom flavored soy sauce that is found in Asian grocery stores. The best local grocery substitute will be tamari. However, if all you have is soy sauce, you may find you need to use more with a bit more sweetener, too. You might also find that your meat won’t be dark and sticky like mine pictured. If you like that texture/flavor profile, you might find that adding some hoisin sauce will do that trick as well! 

Saag Paneer-Inspired Greens and Feta

Saag Paneer-Inspired Greens and Feta 

This first appeared in the CAFE newsletter, published in May 2021
Words and photos by Amanda Callahan of Callywood Farms, edited by Ellie Sharp

Back when I was in graduate school at the University of Denver, my apartment was just around the corner from this little Indian place. As a born and bred Southern girl, I had never experienced Indian food but after one dinner there I was hooked. I spent a lot of money at that little Indian place, and I vowed to learn how to make my favorites at home. Armed with the Internet and books, I started ordering spices online and referring back to my remembered tastes of the restaurant to re-create dishes.

Once we moved to South Carolina, I had to adapt recipes to our garden and native species: I make a mean masala with crowder peas in place of the usual chickpeas, and my family enjoys many delicious vegetables in curry sauces with okra and beets being some of our favorites. But when “Sweet Tea” at Saint Basil Farm (now Growing Green Farms) asked if I’d ever made “saag” from wild spinach or lamb’s quarter I answered, “You know, I haven’t!”, and I knew that was a challenge I needed to meet as saag paneer is a personal favorite. Saag paneer is a classic Indian dish. It starts with puree of greens in a spiced sauce to which fried cubes of fresh paneer cheese, which is a mild farmer’s cheese, are added at the end of cooking. The greens and the creamy cheese are reminiscent of creamed spinach in American cuisine, but complex and vibrant with the Indian spice profile.

One of the more recent, approachable Indian cookbooks is “Indian-ish” by Priya Krishna and it is a fabulous cookbook if you’re looking for easy, adaptable Indian-ish recipes. Paneer is very hard to come by in the rural US. I often make it from scratch or buy it in bulk from one of my favorite restaurants up in Greenville, SWAD. However, Priya suggests using feta cheese thus making this dish easy to recreate with a local ingredient list!

And so I set out to adapt Priya’s already adapted version of the dish to include local greens. Priya uses only spinach in her recipe, but traditionally saag is often cooked with bitter greens, usually mustard greens with spinach and I have even seen some old-school Indian recipes that use kale, radish and turnip greens. I suspect saag would do excellent with a handful of dandelion greens from your yard too.It also makes a truly excellent dish with the lamb’s quarter offered on CAFÉ. 

I invite you to step outside the box with this local take on a classic Indian dish! 

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or oil of choice (such as vegetable, avocado, coconut, etc), divided 
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb braising greens mix (kale, turnip greens, Brussel sprout greens, etc.)
  • 2 packages lamb’s quarter, spinach or radish greens
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 small hot pepper, chopped, or ground cayenne to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese, drained from brine to dry out a bit, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional, but is a great Indian pantry spice if you plan to cook Indian food!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Directions:

  1. Over medium heat, warm the ghee (or oil) in a large pan. Once warm, add the coriander and cardamom and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until the seeds start to brown. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute more. 

2. Add the greens in batches, wilting down and adding more as you make room. Once all is added, cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime juice, green chile, and salt. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend into a chunky paste. Return the spinach mixture to the same pan and set it over low heat. (If you have an immersion blender, blend in the pan.) Stir in 1/2 cup water, then gently fold in the feta, being careful not to break up the cubes. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes more to soften the feta slightly and allow it to soak up some of the spinach sauce.

4. While the feta cooks work on the ghee-spice mixture. In a small pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee (or oil) for 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds. As soon as the cumin seeds start to sputter and brown, about 1 minute max, remove the pan from the heat (cumin seeds will burn quickly, so keep your eye on it!). Immediately add the asafetida (if using) and chili powder.

5. Pour all of the ghee (or oil) mixture into the spinach and feta once that is done cooking and mix.   

Thai Pork Larb

Thai Pork Larb
Recipe and photos by Amanda Callahan of Callywood Farms, words co-written and edited by Ellie Sharp, first appeared in the CAFE newsletter
Inspired by: NYTimes and here

If you’ve been to a Thai restaurant, chances are you’ve seen this iconic dish on the menu — and for good reason! It combines the best of sweet and savory elements with textures that run the gamut from soft to crunchy. At its core, larb is a Laos-based meat salad that is then spiked with all sorts of ingredients making it a cinch to prepare — and to customize to your preferences. I used pork, but you can also incorporate beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, or even mushrooms. Add-ins are flexible too, such as lime juice, cilantro, peanuts, chile peppers, fish sauce and other condiments. The more variety you add, the more the resulting flavors will mingle and meld into a truly palate-pleasing experience.

For me, the distinguishing characteristics of larb are the combination of lime juice, fish sauce, and ground toasted rice. The toasted, ground rice can be difficult to make without the right tools – a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder will do. If not, skip the step! It won’t be as authentic of an experience, but will still produce a tasty dish! 

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion or 3 shallots, divided per instructions below
  • Hot water – between ½ cup – 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons jasmine, basmati or long grain white rice 
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 pound of local ground pork, chicken, beef (you could even try tofu or mushrooms for my plant based peeps!)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes, juiced)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper or fresh chilis, sliced, quantity to taste
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

For serving

  • Butterhead lettuce, outer/large leaves removed for cups
  • Radishes, chopped
  • Pickled jalapeños/peppers and the onions 

Instructions
1. With the onion/shallots – you want half of it sliced for pickles and the other half finely minced to cook with the meat. Prep as so.  

2. For the pickles: put the sliced half of the onion in a large bowl. Add the red wine vinegar and salt, and cover with hot water. Set aside. 

3. For the larb: place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the rice, swirling to coat it with oil and allow to toast. It should only take a few minutes for the rice to take on a golden, almost brown hue. Remove and grind using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. You’re aiming for a textured powder-like consistency. Be careful not to over do it with the coffee grinder. Set aside.

4. In the same pan, add the oil. Once it is heated, add the remaining diced onion. Sauté for a few minutes to soften, add the garlic, sauté another minute until fragrant, and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Add additional heat, if desired, with crushed red pepper or fresh chilis. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

5. To a small bowl, add the lime juice, fish sauce, and honey. Stir to combine. 

6. Set up with lettuce cups and toppings.

7. When the meat has cooled a bit, pour the reserved lime juice/fish sauce on top, combine with chopped cilantro and taste to adjust seasonings. Add more salt, pepper, or heat as needed!

8. Scoop large spoonfuls of larb into lettuce cups, top with pickled onions, radish or other toppings you desire. Serve with steamed rice if you’d like.