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

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!   

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! 

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.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup with Guanciale and Celery Salad Topping

First featured on Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter
Recipe and photos by Amanda Callahan of Callywood Farms, Edited and words by Ellie Sharp

Ready for another super easy, super versatile and super delicious recipe? Keep on reading! I love roasted turnips: the cooking process brings out the sweetness of this misunderstood root veggie and makes them approachable for those who shy away. That said, turnips do tend to have a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” reputation, so I wanted to make something that would be appealing to fans and could-be fans alike. Soup seemed a natural place to start with its cozy vibe well-suited for our current cold temperatures.

But, how could I make unconvinced turnip eaters more interested? Enter the ever-popular garden darlings: potatoes and carrots. By pureeing and blending the turnips with these beloved add-ins, you get the best of both worlds: full, rich flavor without the pronounced turnip twang. Win!

If you’re still unsure, let me give you a little firm-but-polite nudge. Put your support-the-farmers-money-where-your-mouth-is, step outside your comfort zone and bring a variety of vegetables and meat cuts into your home. Buy the turnips, grab and cure the pork jowl and let’s get these overlooked items onto your plate! 

Pro tip: Save all your resulting veggie peelings to make stock. Keep a freezer bag in your freezer and add onion, carrot and celery peelings/ends until it’s full. Mushroom stems, some potato peelings and herbs stems are other great additions, but steer clear of brassica items (cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.). Once the bag is full, add to a large pot or stock pot with leftover bones, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer on low for three to four hours (or longer if you wish). Add water as needed to keep ingredients covered while they cook. Strain and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
2 turnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large onion or several small, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, leaves removed and saved, cut into large chunks
2 heads of garlic
1 handful of roasting blend of fresh herbs, chopped (or more to taste)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 slices guanciale or thick-cut bacon, sliced into lardons (small strips or cubes)
6 cups stock
½ lemon, juiced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. On a large rimmed sheet pan, layer all the vegetables in a single layer, using two pans if you must (you won’t get the charred edges with an overcrowded pan). Drizzle with oil, season aggressively with salt, pepper, and herbs. Toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until charred in spots, flipping and rotating pan halfway through cooking time.
  3. While the vegetables cook, mince the celery leaves and place in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and cracked black pepper. Mix thoroughly, set aside.
  4. In a large soup pot set over medium heat, crisp the jowl or bacon pieces. Remove from heat, set aside. Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. 
  5. When the vegetables are done, place in a high-power blender with 2 cups of stock and puree until smooth. Alternatively, put vegetables and stock into the soup pot and use an immersion blender to puree.
  6. Pour the puree into the soup pot and set to low heat. Add the rest of the stock and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

To serve: ladle soup into bowls. Top each with crispy guanciale or bacon pieces and a scoop of the celery leaf salad. I also was thinking a chili oil would perk it up nicely as well. Enjoy!

Substitutions: The vegetables are pretty interchangeable here. Try rutabaga, squash — whatever you’ve got in the fridge that needs to be used. If you’re vegetarian/vegan, replace the pork with chickpeas roasted in a hot oven until crispy and browned.