Tag Archives | spinach

Cajun Purple Hull Pea Soup With Shrimp

I love the fresh flavor of purple hull peas! Did you know that they are the  younger, sexier version of black-eyed peas? Purple hull peas will dry and become black-eyed peas if they’re left on the vine. Black-eyed peas are good too. They’re just well, older and wiser. I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy this Southern legume when it’s young and fresh!
cajun purple hull pea soup closeup
Oh and here’s another fun fact about legumes. Did you know that they put nitrogen back into the soil?  By planting legumes as a cover crop, our local farmers are putting nitrogen into the soil naturally– no commercial fertilizers needed! As a city girl who’s learning about this local food and farming stuff along with my Local Box, I find that fascinating.
This Cajun Purple Hull Pea Soup With Shrimp is a great way to celebrate the frigid temps we’ve had the past few days. (Did I just say ‘celebrate the frigid temps’?) Well, we can celebrate Cajun-style cooking for Mardi Gras, anyway.
This soup is spicy! If you prefer a less spicy version, you can substitute  paprika for the cayenne pepper.
1/2 large onion, minced
1-2 celery stalks and leaves, finely sliced
2 hot peppers (like jalapenos,) minced (use 1/4 c. bell pepper for no spice)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 t. dried thyme
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. cayenne pepper or paprika
32 oz. organic chicken stock
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 c. water
2-3 c. fresh purple hull peas
1 bunch fresh spinach (or other green), washed, chopped
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 lb. wild caught shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper or paprika
Hot sauce, if desired
1. In a large saucepan, sautee onion, pepper, and celery in 2 T. oil until soft.  Add minced garlic and sautee for about 20 more seconds.
2. Add chicken stock, tomato sauce, water, spices, salt, and purple hull peas to the saucepan (or combine with onion mixture in a slow cooker.) Simmer for 45 min.-1 hr. on med/low heat, or until peas are cooked.
4. Add chopped spinach and lime juice during last 10 minutes of cooking.
5. While soup is simmering, heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet. When it’s hot, add shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes and turn over. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper. (You can also broil or bake the shrimp if you prefer.)
6. Add cooked shrimp to soup just before serving. Season with hot sauce to taste.



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Get Keen with Local Leafy Greens

We are up to our elbows in green goodness here at Greenling DFW, and we couldn’t be happier! It’s a popular sentiment around here that dark leafy greens season is the best season (though once local blueberries and peaches start coming in, you might hear the same crew changing their tune) Either way, local leafy greens are in peak season right now, and they have so much more flavor than their non-local counterparts- which really cuts the groundwork out of convincing your family to eat ‘em.

Trying to choose just one favorite green is arduous, so we’re celebrating all of them. They are often interchangeable in recipes, but they do have unique qualities all their own too:

  • Collard greens, have thick, yet supple leaves and a propensity to taste amazing sauteed with bacon.
  • Mustard greens, their peppery cousin and Southern cooking staple, are perfect sauteed with just a little oil, chopped onion, and salt & pepper (Alright, they’re pretty good with bacon too) 
  • Kale, with it’s chewy, curly leaves that soften delicately when cooked, is a great way to “sneak” nutrition into a non-veggie-centric meal like Shells & Cheese. It’s great raw in a salad too, just give it a little massage!
  • Swiss Chard, probably the green with the largest, most bountiful leaves, is soft, tender, and very versatile – saute the leaves and then use the ribs in a creamy pasta, or even use it as a pizza topping.
  • Spinach, the most widely accepted leafy green, can really be added into anything you can think of- stuff some local portabellas with it, make a warm salad, or use it in a lasagna- the possibilities are endless.

Whichever green you choose, you know you’ll be doing your body (and your brain) good- all of them are an absolute goldmine of nutrition, chock full of the most naturally occuring vitamins you’ll find in a food. So get your local greens on and please, share with us on Facebook if you discover an amazing recipe with your greens!

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Creamy Avocado Pasta


Sometimes I really struggle to stay meatless on Mondays if I’m craving a nice creamy pasta dish for dinner. It doesn’t happen often, but when the hunger for rich food strikes, the avocado is my secret, meatless weapon against dairy-meat-munchies!

The avocado in this creamy pasta recipe works as a binder, creating a rich, smooth dressing with flecks of bitter greens and zesty citrus notes. You’ll notice that there’s no Parmesan cheese in this dish. Most varieties of that cheese are made with animal rennet– not good for Meatless Monday! I use almonds, nutritional yeast, and plenty of salt in my recipe to replace the “oomph” that Parmesan might add.

Creamy Avocado Pasta (serves 2)

1/2 pound vegan pasta
1 medium avocado
1 1/2 cups spinach, arugula, or romaine lettuce
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup almond
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, and drain.

Meanwhile, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the greens, basil, citrus juice, garlic, salt, pepper, almond, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

Pour the pesto over the pasta in a serving dish. Toss to coat the pasta with sauce, adding a little pasta water as necessary to loosen the sauce. Taste the finished pasta and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

This pasta is best served on the same day it is prepared, since the avocado will oxidize and turn the sauce an unsightly brown color after a while.


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Mixed Green Salad with Garlic Honey Vinaigrette


When it comes to holiday entertaining, it doesn’t get any easier than mixed greens and vinaigrette. This base recipe is ultra-simple and pared down to keep the budget low, but you can easily make the dish your own by adding chopped fruits, nuts, raw vegetables, or whatever you have available in your pantry.

Substituting three heaping tablespoons of raspberry preserves or orange marmalade for the honey and garlic in this recipe is a simple way to transform the dressing to a fruity vinaigrette. You can use a flavored vinegar to mix things up.

This recipe yields just over a cup of salad dressing– twice the portion than you need for a dinner party of eight. The extra dressing will keep well in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Just be sure to allow the dressing to come to room temperature before serving, since the olive oil will thicken when it is cold.

Mixed Green Salad with Garlic Honey Vinaigrette (serves 8)
2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, stems removed
1 bunch leaf lettuce, stems removed
1 bunch arugula, tough stems removed
3/4 cup organic olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup local honey
2 garlic cloves, pressed into a paste
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Chop the spinach, lettuce, and arugula into bite sized pieces and place them in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss salad with half of the dressing and serve immediately. Store the remaining dressing for another use.

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Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are an easy appetizer and a holiday classic. This recipe calls for local mushrooms and Parmesan, fresh spinach, and our kitchen’s signature Garlic Herb Butter. We’re sure you won’t be able to just eat one.

Although this recipe calls for local white mushrooms and spinach, which are the most budget-friendly option now, it will work will equally well with other small mushrooms and winter greens– just choose whatever  is handy.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms (yields about 18 mushrooms)
1 pound white button mushrooms
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon organic olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Garlic Herb butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 bunch spinach, including stems, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush dirt off of mushrooms and remove stems from the caps. Mince the stems and set aside for later use. Coat a baking sheet with a teaspoon olive oil. Bake the mushroom caps, stem-side down, until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the herb butter and remaining oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushroom stems and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until spinach is just wilted.

Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Once mushrooms are par-cooked, remove them from the oven and use tongs to turn each mushroom cam stem-side up. Spoon the spinach mixture into mushroom caps, and top each with a pinch of parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

This dish is part of our Organic Entertaining on a Budget series. A complete menu of recipes is available here.

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Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna


Vegetable lasagna is one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods, especially when autumn vegetables like zucchini are abundant. It’s a great meatless main dish, too, because it is filling and pairs perfectly with a quick salad. However, it can be difficult to make lasagna on weeknights since the traditional preparation is so time consuming– up to an hour of hands-on time!

This easy vegetable lasagna recipe avoids many of the pitfalls of traditional preparation by utilizing some useful short-cuts to save time.  Instead of parboiling the noodles and assembling the casserole in a baking dish, we’ll layer sauce, cheese, veggies and raw lasagna noodles right in a slow cooker. Since the slow cooker retains more moisture than traditional oven cooking, there is enough liquid in the casserole to completely cook the noodles right in the dish. There’s no need to use special no-boil noodles, either. Plain raw lasagna noodles are just fine.

Another time saver I like to use for this recipe is my food processor. I use the grater attachment to process my raw veggies for the dish in much less time than it would take to grate or dice them by hand. These veggies blend right into the pasta sauce of the lasagna and give the dish a rich texture and flavor, without adding distinguishable chunks of vegetables. If your family likes chunkier veggie lasagna, by all means cook the recipe as directed with chopped veggies an it will turn out great. Either way, the total prep time for this lasagna should take less than half an hour.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Lasagna (serves 8 )
adapted from “Slow Cooker Lasagna” by BettyCrocker.com

15-ounces ricotta cheeese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded vegetables: your choice of onions, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, or greens. One large zucchini and half of a large onion yield about 2 cups.
10 lasagna noodles, about 1/2 of a 1 lb. package
24-ounce jar organic pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, oregano, and garlic powder.

Shred or chop the vegetables of your choice. Break the lasagna noodles into approximately 1/3-noodle sized pieces with your hands, so that they will fit easily into the crock pot.

Use a ladle to scoop about 1 cup of sauce into the slow cooker. Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce. Layer 1 cup of shredded vegetables on top of the noodles, followed by half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat the sauce-noodle-vegetable-cheese layers. Cover this with the remaining noodles. Ladle the remaining sauce over the casserole and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until noodles are tender and most of the liquid in the casserole has been absorbed.

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