Yes, You Can Eat Carrot Tops

We’ve been eating a lot of carrots from the CSA recently. And they always come with the tops on. So I’ve started using them as I would any herb-a-licious green. Just make sure to wash the sand and soil out of them before you move them to your cutting board. Like spinach and other greens, they can pick up a great deal of grit.

Check out this Carrot Greens and Mushrooms pasta toss.

Cook some pasta (I used gluten-free fettuccine noodles) according to the package directions

In a saute pan add:
1/2 C olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 bunch carrot greens, rough chopped
8 oz mushrooms, I used beech mushrooms this time and broke up the colony by hand rather than slicing them
3+ cloves garlic, diced
*optional– add some sliced, precooked chicken sausage

Saute for about 8 minutes on medium high. The onions should be cooked through and the mushrooms should be juicy. The carrot greens will wilt considerably.

Drain hot pasta and toss. Add in

salt and pepper to taste
a little reserved starchy pasta water to thin sauce

Serve vegan as is or add a little grated parm.

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Pasta with Baby Greens and Mushrooms

Greenhouses are producing wonderful greens all over the south and two of our favorite things are sprouting: arugula and spinach! I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the truffle-infused oil I got over the holidays.

Pasta, I used gluten free spaghetti, but any shape will do

1 bunch baby spinach
1 bunch aruluga
1 pint mushrooms
3+ cloves garlic
1/3 C olive oil or flavored olive oil, I used truffle infused oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.
Saute mushrooms in oil with minced garlic. Saute on medium-low heat to avoid burning the garlic. While mushrooms are cooking through, rough chop spinach and arugula. Make sure it was well washed as spinach is often grown in sandy soil.

Drain pasta and toss with hot mushrooms and oil. Remove from heat. Toss in greens and allow to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with more olive oil if desired.

Our Favorite Curry

This curry is so easy. The coconut milk is creamy and delicious. It keeps the chicken moist without letting the veggies lose their crunch. This meal is ready in minutes.

1 lb chicken thighs
8 oz mushrooms
8 oz carrots
4 oz sliced water chestnuts
3+ cloves garlic, minced
1 large avocado, cubed
14 oz coconut milk
1 TB sesame oil
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
cayenne to taste

Cut chicken and veggies into bite sized pieces. Heat wok on medium high. Add EVERYTHING but avocado pieces. Cook and stir occasionally, gently for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Stir in avocado before serving. Serve over rice.

Mushroom and Arugula Quesadillas

As a gluten-free girl, I don’t get to use my panini press very often. I decided to take it out again because it is AWESOME and has tons of uses other than sandwich making. Also, the gluten-free tortillas you can easily find in the freezer section at most natural grocers kind of taste like card board. Grill marks really improve things! If you don’t have a panini press, an indoor grill pan or you outdoor grill are awesome for this.

4, 12 inch tortillas
8 slices havarti cheese
1 bunch arugula, washed and chopped
1 bunch beech mushrooms, separated
1 lb cooked bacon or prosciutto

Olive oil for grilling

Grill mushrooms with oil until grill marks form. I leave the beech mushrooms in clumps so they are easier to grill. Divide filling ingredients equally among tortillas. Put the cheese on the bottom layer for easy melting and to seal the tortilla.

Fold and press between hot panini grill. Cheese will melt in about 4 minutes on a panini press. Grill 3 minutes per side on a grill or grill pan.

Cabbage Rolls

I ordered red cabbage from the CSA and got green. Hooray seasonal availability! Green cabbage usually gets turned into slaw or salad, but cabbage rolls are hot and tangy! These can be stuffed in a variety of ways for meat eaters or vegans.

Prep the cabbage:

In your large 8qt stock pot, boil salted water. Peel cabbage, separating the largest leaves. You’ll need the 8 largest ones for this dish. Save the heart for another tasty dish.

Wash the cabbage leaves well to remove any sand. Plunge the leaves into the boiling water for about 3 minutes until they are soft enough to fold. Shock in cold water to stop cooking and cool them enough to handle.

Meat filling:

1 Cup brown rice
1/2 lb loose sausage (we have a great local pork breakfast sausage that is well seasoned, but any of your favorite will do)
2/3 Cup carrots, chopped in food processor
1/2 Cup mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced, about 1 Cup
2 TB olive oil

Saute everything together, breaking up sausage into a fine crumble and coating rice in fat. Just as meat is browning, add 2 Cups water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 40 minutes, until rice is cooked through.

Tangy Tomato Sauce:

28 oz strained tomatoes

1/4 Cup red wine vinegar

2 TB sugar

salt and pepper

Simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved and fully incorporated.

For vegan filling:    Sub vegan sausage, lentils, chopped mushrooms, or a combination for the sausage. Season with 1 tsp each sage, thyme, and rosemary. Sub vegetable broth for the water.

Scoop 1/8 of the stuffing mixture into one cabbage leaf. Fold edges over and roll like a tortilla. Tuck the roll tight. Fill all cabbage leaves.

Rolls waiting to be sauced

Scoop 1 Cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish. Place the rolls snugly together. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Rice Noodles in Miso Broth

Hooray! I visited the Asian market today! In the produce section, they sell fresh rice noodles. These are soft and raw and cook in just a few minutes, just like fresh Italian pasta.

2 liters filtered water
3 TB red miso paste
1 lb fresh rice noodles
6 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
6 oz carrot, julienne
1 bunch spring onions, sliced into thin rounds
2 TB ponzu sauce

optional: 1 lb thin sliced beef, shredded cooked chicken or pork, tofu cubes, peeled shrimp

Place water and miso over a high burner to bring to a soft boil. Add in carrots, mushrooms, and meat/tofu. Stir gently to prevent protein from sticking. When broth begins to boil again, add fresh rice noodles. Simmer for 4-6 until rice noodles are cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in ponzu sauce and onion. Serve immediately.

For added nutrition, you can add in additional vegetables. These veggie suggestions are grouped by cooking time.

Add any of these vegetables with the carrots and mushrooms: shredded red or green cabbage, baby corn, thin sliced Thai eggplant, Asian long beans

These vegetables should be added with the spring onions before serving: mung bean sprouts, shredded napa cabbage, shredded bok choy

Fluffy Grass Fed Beefy Meatballs

This is what I made myself for my most recent birthday. While we do love certain restaurants, I didn’t want to risk disappointment on my special ME holiday. So my darling one brought me several pounds of locally farmed grass fed beef as a birthday gift. Here is how to make some beautifully fluffy meat balls, sans gluten!

Served with polenta and marinara

Add these wonderful ingredients to your stand mixer with the balloon whisk attached:

1.5 lbs grass fed ground sirloin
4 oz mushrooms, minced in the food processor
1 yellow onion, minced in the food processor
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt (we like salt, you don’t have to like salt this much)
1 TB fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced in the food processor
3 eggs
1/2 Cup rice flour

Whip it! Start on your lowest setting and work up to medium speed for about 1 full minute to ensure everything is well incorporated. At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture to cook up later, like if you had company coming the following day.

To cook:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put a thin layer of your favorite tomato sauce in a shallow baking dish. This will keep the meatballs from sticking.

Roll the meat mixture into large balls. I like mine about the size of racket balls. This recipe will make about 20-25 meatballs that size. I always make plenty when I make them so we can freeze them and re-heat them later for a fast meal.

Place them on the tray, not touching. They won’t expand so you need not separate them much. Bake for 25-30 minutes until juices run clear. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

***Cooks Tip: This makes a rowdy meat loaf!

Lazy Asian Pasta Toss

Sometimes, there is just no energy to cook. Between holiday entertaining, while studying for final exams, or just because it’s a busy day. Get some quality pre-made sauces and seasonings for these times.

2 Cups cut up cooked chicken (grab a rotisserie bird and shred, use left overs from a home roast, or quickly broil some yourself.)
14 oz can bamboo shoots
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 Cup carrots, in sticks
8 oz mung bean sprouts
1/3 Cup hoisin sauce
3 TB garlic chili paste
3 TB soy sauce
2 TB sesame oil

1 lb gluten free pasta, cooked and drained

Set pasta to boil.

Heat wok with sesame oil. Toss in mushrooms and carrots. Stir fry until crisp tender. Add bamboo and cooked chicken. Toss in hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and chili paste. Heat through.

Drain pasta. Toss with meat and veggies to coat thoroughly with sauce. Add mung bean sprouts. Stir gently to incorporate. Serve immediately.

**Switch to tempeh for an awesome veggie dish!

Green Bean Casserole – The REAL Deal

Another real food recipe to help those who still eat out of cans and boxes. Here are plenty of make-ahead tips to get this casserole rolling well in advance.

2 lbs fresh or frozen green beans
8 oz mushrooms of your choice rough chopped
2+ cloves of garlic
2 TB butter
2 TB brown rice flour
1 1/2 Cups milk
1/2 Cup turkey or veggie stock
salt and pepper
Fried Onions (see below)

Green Bean casserole has 3 parts: beans, mushroom cream, and fried onions. You can prep each of these parts separately and store them until ready to assemble OR you can make the casserole in advance and freeze it.

For the beans: Clean and string them if using fresh. Blanch them in boiling salted water for 3 minutes to intensify their color. Shock them in an ice bath. Drain in your salad spinner and store until the big day. Frozen beans are easier– just leave them in the freezer.

For the mushroom cream:

Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle rice flour over and whisk. Cook to a light brown roux. Slowly whisk in broth. Slowly whisk in milk 1/4 cup at a time until cream has reached desired thickness. Some like the sauce a little thicker or thinner. Adjust the level of milk according to your taste.

This can be stored in a mason jar for weeks in the freezer. Thaw completely before assembling casserole.

For Fried Onions:

1 large yellow onion
1/2 Cup rice flour + 1 TB cajun seasoning blend
oil for frying

Slice onion into thin rings. Dredge in seasoned flour and fry in hot oil, about 350 degrees F. Drain well. Fry in small batches. Fried onions should be made the same day for optimum crispness.

To assemble casserole:

Stir the green beans with the mushroom cream and half of the fried onions. Turn into a casserole pan. Top with the remaining fried onions.

At this point, you can bake straight away uncovered OR you can cover the casserole dish and freeze it for up to 2 weeks. Make sure you use a thermal shock proof casserole dish if you use this method.

Since you are probably baking this with the turkey, in whatever crowded space you can find, cooking times will depend on the temp you have set for your turkey. In a 375 degree F oven, the casserole will be hot and bubbly in about 30 minutes.

Cooks Tip: Sometimes I sprinkle a little fresh grated parmesan cheese on before baking. It gives a very nice and even browning. It’s also salty. I love salty.

Gluten Free Traditional Stuffing

I use the drippings from our roasting turkey to give this stuffing a flavorful burst of tradition. The best thing about this stuffing is that it takes only a few minutes and can be prepped several days in advance.

Up to 5 days ahead prep these veggies and store in the fridge.

4 large carrots, diced
1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, any variety, rough chopped
8 oz walnuts, rough chopped
2 TB dried sage
1 TB black pepper
1 TB thyme

Prep bread crumbs well in advance. The best option is to save heels of gluten free breads you buy throughout the previous month. Cube the bread bits and store in a gallon size freezer bag. You want 8-10 cups total. You can also use gluten free corn bread. Bread crumbs store in the freezer for about 2 months.

When you are ready to assemble the stuffing, add 3 TB butter or turkey drippings to a heavy stock pot or large dutch oven. Heat over medium-high. Toss in the prepped bag of veggies and herbs. Saute for 7 minutes until onions are soft and the vegetables have sweated out some of their moisture. Heating the dry herbs with the fat will disperse the flavor and help it develop fully.

While veggies are softening, drain off 2 cups of fluid from your turkey roasting pan. Set aside for finishing stuffing.

Toss in the prepared bread crumbs and cubes. Drizzle in turkey drippings as needed for moisture. Cover stuffing and transfer to the oven to keep warm until serving. If you’ll be keeping the stuffing in the oven for more than 20 minutes, add an additional 1/4 Cup of turkey drippings to maintain moisture.

*For vegetarian stuffing, use veggie stock in place of turkey drippings. For vegan stuffing, use a quality butter substitute and vegan bread cubes.

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