Warm Fall Squash, Kale, Salad, CSA, Fresh, Fall, Recipe, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy Free, Nut free, egg free, organic

What’s In My CSA? Warm Fall Squash, Quinoa, Kale Salad

What’s In My CSA? Fall Squash and Kale Salad Recipe

Food first (because I hate searching for the recipe), Talkie Second (enjoy! It’s lovely and short) :
Warm Fall Squash, Kale, Salad, CSA, Fresh, Fall, Recipe, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy Free, Nut free, egg free, organic

Warm Fall Squash, Quinoa, Kale Salad
4 servings (modest), 2 servings (hearty)
Vegan and vegetarian friendly*

1 small butternut squash
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried sage
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup dry quinoa
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups lacinato (dinosaur) kale
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) plus more to spray baking sheet if needed
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
⅓ cup dried cranberries (I prefer unsweetened, many brands pack with excess sugar)
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF, place top oven rack as high as it will go (unless you are using a convection oven)
  2. Wash butternut squash, peel, and cut into ½” cubes
  3. Spread out butternut squash cubes evenly on lined baking sheet (*Use parchment paper to line baking sheet, or spray with fine mist of olive oil)
  4. Lightly sprinkle with sage and paprika
  5. Roast squash for 30-40 minutes until corners begin to brown (*Small cubes shouldn’t need to be stirred or turned, but if you cut them larger you may want to halfway through)
  6. While squash is roasting, in a medium pot bring vegetable broth to a boil, add quinoa and salt, cover
  7. Cook quinoa for per package instructions, or until broth is gone, stirring every few minutes
  8. Place torn kale leaves into a medium bowl
  9. Make dressing: add dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, EVOO, black pepper and a pinch of salt to a small bowl
  10. Whisk dressing ingredients until well mixed, drizzle over kale leaves
  11. Once squash is roasted, quinoa is cooked, and kale has been marinated, assemble:
  12. In a fresh serving bowl layer quinoa, 1 cup of roasted squash, kale, and cranberries
  13. Mix thoroughly, add salt and pepper to taste
  14. Bonus: top with 1-2 Tablespoons toasted squash seeds, or slivered almonds

Serve Warm

Each season brings out something different in us. This is one of the reasons I highly encourage eating and cooking with what is in-season for your region. Our bodies have different needs based on the weather and temperature, and for this reason I believe some of our cravings are really our body’s request for fulfillment of those nutrients. Fall in Ohio means root vegetables, squash, and dark leafy greens. I want to fill my home with the scent of paprika, cinnamon, and sage. I want foods that will nourish my body, but bring my family and friends together too.

This is what I think about as the air gets crisp and I have to add another layer of clothing in the morning. I love cooking with fall weather foods, but I feel like sometimes they get a bad wrap for being high calorie, food-coma causing dishes. Warm, rich, cool weather foods can be heart-warming and stomach-filling without the guilt and burden of lots of butter and sugar.

A truly vine-ripened butternut squash is unbelievably sweet when roasted in the oven, it can be cubed and added to a side dish or salad like I did here, or pureed with some warmed apples for an amazingly simple soup. Deep orange colored squash carries tons of potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. These high antioxidant foods are good for our bodies head to toe – vision to strong bones. Bonus: all that potassium and magnesium helps to prevent pregnancy muscle cramps!

Fall cooking is also incredibly simple, so often it involves a little roasting, which while that may take a few more minutes, fall roasting and spices can fill your house with lovely scents that beat any candle. Personally, taking that time to roast vegetables makes me think about taking more time to slow down myself. Summer can be so busy and hot that I forget to relax. This year especially, as things in my life are changing, chapters are ending and new ones beginning, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my priorities. What am I being called to and where is my time best spent? Cooking healthy, real, whole foods is something I love and something that is a blessing to my family and a way to share time with friends. Cooking to me creates balance and helps me recharge. Enjoy!

What do you love about fall? Where does it help you recharge and create balance in your life? Let me know what you think about the recipe, comment below.

Be Local,
Simply Jess


CSA Swiss chard, carrots, scapes, garlic, sausage, quinoa, fast, easy, simple, dinner, supper, weeknight

What’s In My CSA? Swiss Chard with Spicy Italian Sausage

Gluten Free, Weeknight Dinner, 5 Ingredients

Some nights I just need to make a quick meal. Plain and simple. But I don’t want quick to equal a less than nutritious, non-balanced, or boxed meal. This is one thing I love about participating in a CSA program, I have seasonal, fresh vegetables well stocked and I need to make the best use of them. Most of my CSA produce is best when used within 5-7 days, unless you are  good at small batch preserving. Items like garlic scapes (the green tops to a garlic bulb that only make an appearance for a few short weeks in the early summer), and delicate late June Swiss chard, need to be eaten fairly quickly but pack an awesome flavor and nutritional punch. Swiss chard is full of antioxidants, and vitamin A, giving the body the prevention tools it needs against cancer and diabetes, and promotes bone, eye, and brain health. While at the Farmers Market this past week we purchased some spicy Italian pork sausage from a local farm that offers shoppers some wonderful cuts of pork and chicken. This recipe was not the intent for the sausage, I just like having some more indulgent varieties of meat in the freezer for occasions like tonight. While we balance our meat and meat-free meals, I don’t think products like good sausage are terrible so long as they are not a daily occurrence.

Tonight, I wanted to use many of my CSA ingredients to show you a flavorful, summer meal that is a cinch to make and only uses two pots.

Summer CSA Skillet: Swiss Chard and Spicy Italian Sausage

2 links (or 7 ounces) spicy Italian sausage, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4  whole garlic scapes, sliced
3 cups Swiss chard, de-stemmed and leaves torn

1 cup cooked quinoa (optional, or change for preferred grain)


*Always wash/rinse all produce before consumption

  1. Cook Quinoa (or preferred grain) per package instructions
  2. Slice slightly frozen Italian sausage into bite sized pieces
  3. In a castiron skillet, cook the sausage at a medium heat to prevent dryness
  4. Once sausage is cooked (no longer pink) and beginning to brown, add carrots, mixing frequently until carrots are soft
  5. Add garlic scapes and destemmed Swiss chard, mix in and cook until chard is wilted
  6. Serve over quinoa

Calories: 400, Protein: 20, Fat: 23, Carbs: 30

Let me know what you think when you try it for yourself

Be Local.

Lebanese Cooking Spinach Pie Recipe | Simply Jess

The Love of Lebanese Cooking & Recipe

Lebanese Syrian Spinach Pie Recipe (Fatayer simsum)

There are few things I identify with more than being Lebanese – Syrian. I don’t know why: I am a third generation American girl, who is only half-Middle Eastern, and I have never set foot in Lebanon. To look at me or my sister someone may think…Italian? French? So why the strong connection? I attribute it to the fact that my whole family identifies with it as well. We keep our heritage alive and pass it along from generation to generation. We may not all look the part, but we know it and keep it alive. Even my farm raised, fair skinned, blonde, also half-Lebanese cousin will tell you how Christmas, Easter, and many other family gatherings are vitally made up of impeccably traditional Lebanese food and very loud talking. 

I remember rolling grape leaves as a young child. Carefully plucking them out of the brine, spreading one leaf out on the counter, placing the proper amount of rice filling, then firmly folding and rolling the leaf into its secure cigar-like form. You learned the exact amount of delicate touch and taut manipulation you needed for the leaf to not rip in the process or fall apart when you boiled them later on the stove. It can be a great time to spend with family, and it can also be a peaceful solitary activity. I’ve woken up at 5 am to roll grape leaves to share with co-workers, and I’ve spent long afternoons making them for friends.

Lebanese Spinach and Meat Pies
Lebanese Spinach and Meat Pies

There is such peace in knowing that the activity you are doing has been done the same way for hundreds of years. There are many cultures that can identify with the same feeling. Simple ingredients coming together with distinctive spices to become something many people find extraordinary. In some ways this type of food preparation is so simplistic, but it takes an act of love to make great food. If anyone ever brings you culturally based homemade food, chances are it was made with love and passion. Cooking like this is an uncommon art.

Like most Mediterranean food, Lebanese-Syrian diets can be so healthy and nutritious. High protein, good fats, complex carbs, and lots of good fiber. Chickpeas alone are high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphate, and selenium, but low in saturated fat. These little guys are nutritional powerhouses! A Mediterranean diet has been touted as ideal for a long time. Even though many dishes use oil, extra virgin olive oil has been shown to lower many forms of heart disease when used in proper moderation. It’s not a high heat oil, meaning it is best used for sautéing, roasting, and at room temperature but not great for frying. It’s versatility comes from its very non-offensive flavor. Olive oil is best in ‘cold-pressed’ form (a form of expelling the oil from the source). Also, most Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes involve vegetables; kusa, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumber, and onions are of few of the most common. These vegetables are commonly served lightly cooked or raw, frequently paired with lemon juice (from a real lemon, not ReaLemon) and healthy fats creating a food that is great for body and soul.

Chick Pea Hummus | Simply Jess
Chick Pea Hummus

It is actually pretty easy to buy local and cook Lebanese food. Most of the vegetables are commonly grown in the Northwest-Ohio and Mid-West region. What isn’t grown locally can be easily found at one of the many Middle Eastern small businesses in the area; for me it’s always a good excuse to go to Tiger Bakery but The Anderson’s stores and most grocery stores have everything you need as well. I can’t tell you how awesome Spinach Pies (or Fatayer simsum) turn out using locally grown, late-winter spinach; the flavor was no-comparison to what I have bought at the grocery store, but if that’s what you have, it works. I make the dough from scratch (just flour, water, salt, yeast and a little olive oil – not so scary) and use sweet onions, it’s fantastic!

Most people are familiar with hummus and it’s a simple, yet not so simple thing to get just right, but there are hundreds of recipes out there. Today I’m going to share the fairly simple Syrian Spinach Pie Recipe; let me know how it goes!

*Adapted from The Art of Syrian Cookery by Helen Corey

Lebanese Syrian Spinach Pies (Fatayer simsum)

Makes 3 dozen hand pies
Active Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 ½ Hours


2 lbs all purpose flour
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups lukewarm water

Spinach Filling
2 lbs fresh spinach
Salt to taste
3 onions, chopped fine
Juice of 3 lemons
1 tsp pepper (approximately) to taste
½ tablespoon ground coriander (more or less to taste)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for baking)
*Optional: large disposable aluminum baking/roasting trays

To make the dough:
Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of lukewarm water (not too hot or will kill yeast)
Mix flour and salt in large mixing bowl
Pour in dissolved yeast water plus the additional two cups of lukewarm water, knead well
Add oil and continue to knead until one large sticky ball forms
Cover and let rest at room temp about 1 ½ hours [**Go to The Spinach Filling**]

When dough rises, cut into small sections 3” in diameter (I like to roll them into a ball) place on a floured pan or tray keeping far enough apart they don’t merge together during second rise
Cover again for 30 minutes
Go to Assembly

The Spinach Filling:
Wash spinach thoroughly and cut into small pieces
Sprinkle with salt
Squeeze until water is removed
Add chopped onions, lemon juice, and pepper and coriander, mix well
Add oil and mix (I use my bare hands and massage it all together)

Heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
On a clean floured working surface flatten dough with hands into thin dough circles no more than ¼” thick
Place about ¼ – ⅓ cup spinach mixture in center of a piece flattened dough
Imagine the circle of dough as three even sections: fold the outside edges of the dough over the spinach pile, and pinch dough together forming triangular pies.
Brush oil on baking tray (I like to use large disposable aluminum ones), arrange pies in rows about 2” apart
Brush modest oil on top of triangular pies
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until bottoms are slightly browned
Place under broiler until tops of pies are lightly browned


Be Local,
Simply Jess