Jun 292014

Why NOLA Farms is presenting a series of local recipes for the Eat Local Challenge throughout the month of June

Please note that this recipe is not 100% local. The tasso has spices in it that are not local. You can choose to omit the tasso, but it really does bring a lot of flavor to the dish.

White beans with tasso and kale

Purple rice

Tasso from Cleaver and Co.

Homemade vegetable stock

White Beans and Purple Rice with Kale
4 cups fresh white beans
3 ½ cups of water or homemade vegetable stock
1 package tasso
1 ½ cup onions, diced
1 ½ cup bell pepper, diced
3-5 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup green onion, chopped
½ jalapeno, finely diced
1 bunch kale, chopped

1. First, brown the tasso with garlic and jalapeno in a non-stick pan.
2. Remove and place tasso mixture into a large dutch oven or pot. Add onions, bell peppers, and kale to a non-stick pan and sauté down until translucent.
3. Add onions, bell peppers, green onions, kale, stock, salt, and beans to pot.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally.
5. Allow the beans to cook for an hour and a half, or until the beans are creamy.
6. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.


Jun 222014

On Saturday, June 14, the Eat Local Challenge hosted a locavore market at the O.C.H. Art Market inside the Zeitgeist in Central City.

The market presented several different vendors. From local soaps, salsas, art, vegetables, and jewelry, it was hard to leave without purchasing something. A string band played for shoppers and provided entertainment for hungry and thirsty customers of The PDR NOLA and Church Alley Coffee Bar. The Eat Local Challenge offered free local jasmine and brown rice and even sold local oranges, yes…in June!

ELC table.jpgedited

Local tomatoes, garlic, rice, and oranges were available from the Eat Local Challenge

David Young from the Capstone Project was there to answer questions about his non-profit organization. A new company, Si Se Puede Salsa Co., debuted their tasty salsas and jam at the market. They sold sweet fruit salsa, a spicier tomato salsa, pepper jelly vinaigrette, canned pickles and beans, and various flavors of jam. Cleaver and Co. had canned red beans and rice as well as their homemade beef jerky for sale.  Another vendor sold all vegan baked goods and the New Orleans Community Printshop had shirts and prints for sale.

Amanda of Si Se Puede Salsa Co.

Amanda of Si Se Puede Salsa Co. with their line of products

Dominic d'Eustachio sold vegetables and herbs to support a community garden on Port St.

Dominic d’Eustachio sold vegetables and herbs to support the Port Street Farms community garden


Jun 172014

This past Saturday morning, over 45 people headed to the Eat Local Challenge event in Couterie Forest inside of City Park to learn more about wild edible plants. Botanist Dr. Charles Allen led the group on a two-hour long tour throughout the trails in the park and covered nearly every plant that was sighted.

Dr. Charles Allen

Dr. Charles Allen shares his expertise with participants

The knowledgeable and witty Dr. Allen captivated participants with his detailed descriptions of plants such as Wild Lettuce, Common Ragweed, Dewberry, Common Goldenrod, and Ladies Eardrop Vine. He explained how the seeds of Peppergrass go well with bread and how he cuts the tips of young Blackberry leaves to make tea with them. If you want to make impressive pancakes, Dr. Allen suggests adding Elderberry flowers. For your next meal of red beans and rice, throw in some dried locally foraged Sweet Bay leaves.


Elderberry flower

Virginia Sweet Bay leaves

 Sweet Bay leaves

Group forage tour.jpgedited

Foragers hike through Couterie Forest to discover another wild edible plant

As Dr. Allen explained the specifics of each plant, participants passed each one around and tasted the edible ones and examined the few non-edible plants. Some folks gathered plants to take home to utilize later. From Dewberry to Duckweed, Dr. Allen answered questions throughout the hike and uncovered some of the mysteries of Southeastern Louisiana forests.

To learn more about wild edible plants, you can find Dr. Allen’s book Edible Plants of the Gulf South on Amazon.




Jun 112014

Why NOLA Farms is presenting a series of local recipes for the Eat Local Challenge throughout the month of June

Are you starting to miss peanut butter? Luckily, pecan butter is really simple to make and just as delicious. You’ll need a food processor or a blender for this recipe. One cup of shelled pecans will produce one cup of pecan butter. I recommend using at least two cups of pecans – I only made one, and of course it is not enough! The fresher the pecans, the better the pecan butter will taste.


Honey Pecan Butter

2 cups pecans, shelled
1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans out on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until aromatic.

2. After pecans have cooled, place in food processor or blender for 15-20 minutes. When the pecans begin to stick to the sides, start scraping the sides of the processor or blender with a spatula every couple of minutes until pecans become creamy.

3. Place pecan butter in a jar and mix in honey.

Notes: The pecans may not turn out to be as creamy as you are used to, but don’t worry – it will still taste amazing. I suggest adding a little pecan oil to make it smoother.

Jun 082014


If you’re looking for a comfort meal centered around beef, here is just the entrée for you. This recipe incorporates vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy, and protein all into one dish. The meatballs simmer in a tomato and milk sauce for an hour; making them juicy, flavorful, and hard to resist.

Purple riceedited


Jalapeño Rice Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Makes 18-20 medium-sized meatballs

1 lbs. ground beef
1/3 cup uncooked rice
½ cup onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 tablespoons green peppers, diced
4 tablespoons green onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste

For the sauce, combine the tomatoes, milk, two garlic cloves, salt to taste, and the sugar into a saucepan on medium heat. Add a teaspoon of the jalapeño if desired, adjust according to your desired heat level. Allow it to cook down while preparing the meatballs, stir occasionally. Add more milk or water if it becomes too thick.

In a large bowl, add the beef, rice, green peppers, jalapeño, green onions, remaining garlic cloves, and salt to taste. Mix it all together and shape into meatballs.

Over medium heat, brown the meatballs in a large skillet. Drain the fat, then add the tomato sauce to the skillet. Cover and cook on low for 1 hour.

Notes: If you’re worried about the spice level, you can omit the jalapeño and add another vegetable if you wish. The spice level in this dish came out just right for me – it wasn’t too spicy, but I could still taste the jalapeño. If you want more veggies or herbs in your meatballs, add them in. This dish is rather forgiving, so feel free to be creative with it. The sauce cooks down quite a bit, so if you prefer more sauce I would suggest adding more tomatoes and milk.

Produce tip: If you haven’t been able to find local garlic yet, a farmer sells it at The Marketplace at Armstrong Park (901 N. Rampart St.) on Thursdays from 3-7 pm.

Jun 032014


On Sunday, June 1st, the Eat Local Challenge kicked off with the 2nd Annual Urban Farm Bike tour. A collaboration between the NOLA Social Ride and the Eat Local Challenge, Sunday’s event was the first of two tours that are scheduled for the month of June. If you missed this past tour, you can still catch the second one on Sunday, June 29th.

The ride began at 9 a.m. at CRISP Farms (1310 Lesseps St.), near the intersection of St. Claude and Poland. Despite the threat of rain, over 35 dedicated riders showed up for the five garden tour. Zachary George, one of the CRISP Farms leaders and resident of the house on site, gave an informal tour to interested participants. From an edible fruit forest to a hydroponic system, CRISP is both a garden and a practice in permaculture. Continue reading »