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Anchovies? Yes, anchovies. I found this recipe in my new favorite cookbook High Flavor, Low Labor. When I first saw anchovies on the ingredient list, I turned the page and just kept looking. I’ve never tried anchovies, they just always seemed like they would be gross. However, J.M. Hirsh convinced me otherwise. And he was right! They melt into the greens and all that’s left is a great meaty flavor that goes perfectly with kale. Now I have to find something to do with the rest of the anchovies.

1 large bunch of kale

olive oil

3 oil packed anchovies

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

grated zest of 1 lemon

parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Wash and roughly chop or tear the kale (bite size pieces). Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan or deep skillet over medium high heat. When hot add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute until the anchovies break down and form a paste (this takes just a few minutes).

Add the kale (and a little water – about a 1/4 cup), cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook about 8 minutes or until the kale is tender and all the water is about gone.

Add the lemon zest and parmesan cheese, taste for salt and pepper. Serve over small pasta or  smashed potatoes.

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Pesto Chicken

This recipe is adapted from what might be my new favorite cookbook. It’s called High Flavor, Low Labor by J.M. Hirsch. It’s full of mouth-watering recipes that were created for those time crunched weekday meals, but don’t mistake this for your typical “quick and easy” cookbook. You won’t find any processed foods in these recipes, he makes good use of super flavorful “real” ingredients, and some unique techniques to make super yummy meals a reality for the weekday dinner. This particular recipe simply requires some planning ahead.

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 1 full breast  – 2 halves)

about 1/2 cup flour

2-3 Tablespoons butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil

In a food processor, combine the garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, vinegar, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until well combined (but not completely smooth).

Transfer about half of the pesto to a glass baking dish. Cover the remaining pesto and refrigerate until ready to use.

One at a time, lay each chicken breast on the counter and carefully slice across the center horizontally to create 2 thin halves (you want them to be about 1/4 inch thick – if not then place them between sheets of plastic wrap and whack’em with a heavy skillet until they are about 1/4 inch thick).

Place the chicken in the baking dish with the pesto, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.

When you’re ready to make dinner, place the flour in a wide shallow bowl (or on a plate). Lightly dredge each piece of pesto chicken through the flour, lightly coating both sides.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, combine the butter and olive oil, and heat until sizzling.  Fry the chicken a few pieces at a time until lightly browned on both sides.

I chose to serve this yummy pesto chicken on top of a salad dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. YUM!

It is also really good over pasta that has been mixed with some of the leftover pesto.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

This was a tasty and super easy vegetarian meal. It’s one of those stews that is even better the second day!  This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison.

olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 gloves of garlic, minced

2 pinches of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 can diced tomatoes (or about 1 cup or so peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)

3 cups cooked chickpeas

2 bunches of spinach, tough stems removed

In a wide saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, rosemary, and half the parsley.  Saute for 5-8 minutes, lowering the temperature to about medium heat.  Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and season with sea salt and ground black pepper, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and place all the spinach on top, put the lid back on and let the spinach steam for 3-5 minutes until wilted.  Easy!

I served this dish over brown rice.

Gluten Free Drop Biscuits

If you do need to avoid gluten, these are the best gluten free biscuits I’ve had! Super yummy! This recipe is adapted from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together.

Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or your hands until small pea-sized crumbs form. Add milk and gently but quickly stir together with a fork. Using a large spoon, scoop out biscuits onto parchment paper covered cookie sheets. This should make about 6-8 biscuits.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Gluten-Free products are popping up all over the grocery store these days.  From cookies, crackers, and breads, to frozen dinners and canned soups, this is definitely a fast growing market, and a fast growing diet trend.  However, there are actually very few of us that need gluten free foods. Gluten is found in any food containing wheat, rye or barley, and you might be surprised at how many foods contain wheat. It is hidden in almost every processed food out there.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1% of the worlds population (about 3 million Americans) and only a small percentage of these people have been diagnosed. There really are no typically symptoms of celiac disease, this is one of the reasons why so many people are undiagnosed. Symptoms can include anything from an inability to concentrate, blurred vision, dementia, anemia, bone pain and tremors to various gastrointestinal symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, etc). The symptoms can also range in severity, some people even having no symptoms. If you have celiac, and you eat gluten, you actually destroy parts of your GI tract. Eliminating gluten from your diet is the only treatment for celiac.  Some people also have what’s called gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten intolerance. This basically means that they don’t have the autoimmune disorder, but do get symptoms (typically GI type symptoms) when they eat foods containing gluten. The most common symptoms include bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, constipation, and or diarrhea.  There is some evidence that a gluten free diet may help with some other medical issues, such as autism, but research is still inconclusive.

The downside to most processed gluten free foods is that they are typically higher in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, and lower in fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to their whole wheat counterparts.

The only way to find out if you have celiac is to get a blood test, they will test for specific antibodies and then to confirm they will typically take a tissue biopsy of part of the intestines. Right now there isn’t a really good test for gluten intolerance, typically an elimination diet is done to determine intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.

If you suspect you might have celiac – contact your doctor before taking gluten out of your diet, it will effect the blood test.

If you suspect you might have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, contact a dietitian that has experience with either celiac, food allergies, and or food sensitivities and intolerances.

Garlicky Lima Beans

This is a quick and tasty way to make those fresh lima beans (or butter beans) that you’ve been finding at the farmer’s market for the past few weeks.  Simple recipes like this allow you to really taste how wonderfully fresh the produce from the farmer’s market is.

2-3 cups fresh lima beans (also called butter beans)
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

    In a large pot add the lima beans, garlic and bay leaf and fill with water till it covers the beans by about 1 inch, add about 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Bring the beans to a boil and cover, lowering the heat to a simmer. Let the beans cook about 20 minutes (you can add a little water if it cooks off to quickly).  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and another drizzle of olive oil.

    I also added some local Sungold tomatoes for a touch of sweetness.

    End of The Summer Spaghetti

    This recipe sums up late summer vegetables here in North Carolina. The flavors all fit so well together, even though I forgot a few ingredients. It was so good, I think I’m going to make it again next week!  It is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.

    1 1/2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced to 1/2 inch thick (about 1 big eggplant)

    2 bell peppers (yellow, orange, or red, or a mix)

    olive oil

    1 onion, diced

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1/3 cup chopped parsley

    2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

    1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped

    1/4 cup Sicilian olives, chopped

    3 tablespoons capers

    1 tablespoon dried oregano

    sea salt and ground pepper

    1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

    Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano for grating

    Preheat the broiler and brush a sheet pan lightly with olive oil, arrange the eggplant on it and brush the tops with more oil. Broil on both sides until browned, about 15 minutes per side. Remove and cut into strips.  Lightly oil the peppers, then broil, skin side up, until blistered. Stack them on top of one another and cover with a bowl or plate to steam for 15 minutes. Peel of the skin and dice.

    Heat about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and parsley. Saute over medium high heat until the onions and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the eggplant, tomatoes, olive, capers, oregano and about 1/2 cup water or juice from the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 30 minutes.

    In the meantime cook the spaghetti. When it’s all done, top the pasta with the vegetables and grated cheese. Yum! I served this with some roasted asparagus (yes it’s local – I was just as surprised as you are).