Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’


Kale with pecans, beans, and rice

Hubby walked in with the CSA box this morning, and I was ready to go! With Farmer Ray’s Friday “heads up” email, I knew I would be working with Red Russian Kale. With just a few steps, lunch was soon on the table!

The key to making a plain green vegetable worthy of an entire meal is adding something with protein or fat (preferably both). Nuts work perfectly, as do any kind of beans or lentils. The basic recipe calls for pecans, which are wonderful, but you could use just about any kind of nut. I read the recipe reviews, and I incorporated some of those ideas, too.

1 bunch kale or chard
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste
½ cup cooked beans
Cooked rice


basic ingredients


While you are prepping the green ingredients, toast the nuts in a dry skillet over low heat. Shake every few minutes. I set a timer for 5 minutes, so I wouldn’t forget about them.


Toast nuts over low heat in dry skillet.

Next finely chop the garlic. Did you know that chopping garlic actually makes it healthier? Who knew? Scientists have long suspected that the active ingredient in garlic is a substance called allicin. A recent study from Queen’s University showed that it is actually a decomposition product of allicin that has the most potent antioxidant activity. Released from plant cells when they are damaged, alliinase is what gives garlic (and onions) their strong odor and is thought to be a self-defense mechanism for these plants. When garlic is crushed, alliinase becomes active and begins creating allicin. As allicin is created and breaks down, the antioxidant potential of garlic is dramatically increased. Optimal antioxidant levels are created about 10 minutes after garlic is crushed. I’m going to start prepping my garlic first! 

Wash, stem, and chop kale. It’s quick to stack the kale leaves, roll, and slice into ribbons. It’s okay if your greens are still wet; the water will help them steam.

The original recipe didn’t call for onions, but since I had so many gorgeous fresh green onions, I threw in some of those as well.


chopped and prepped!

Remove the toasted nuts from the skillet and heat a little olive oil in the pan. You don’t need much – just a sheen to sauté the onions a minute or two. .Add your chopped greens to the pan, sprinkle generously with sea salt and toss with tongs. Cover. I cooked over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often and adding about a tablespoon of water.

 Next, push greens to the side and add a bit more olive oil to briefly sauté the garlic. Be careful! Garlic becomes bitter if burnt!


Briefly sauté minced garlic.

Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Now add the beans. The reviewer suggested adding  chickpeas, but I didn’t have any. I pulled up the NI for chickpeas and compared it to the cans of great northern beans and cannellini beans I had on hand. They are all very similar in protein, fiber, carbs, etc. I decided to go with the cannellini beans.


Great source of protein!

Add the toasted pecans.


LOVE the crunch of toasted nuts!

 One recipe reviewer said that if you would like a little more substance, serve it with brown rice, lentils or quinoa. I steamed up a pot of basmati rice with veggies that I had in the pantry and served the kale mixture on top of a serving of hot rice.


Bulk up this recipe with rice!

Hubby sprinkled his liberally with Cajun Chef Hot Sauce and dug in! I topped mine with parmesan cheese. And lunch was a done deal!


Topped with parmesan cheese!

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It was a bit sad to pick up our last CSA box on Saturday, but I know the land (and our Dirt Farmer) needs a time of rest and refreshing!

We had our grandchildren over for pizza and a holiday movie, so I used all the lettuce and carrots in a salad. I wanted to use the kale in a big pot of Rose Creek Farms’ Potato Soup, but I just did not have time to do that! I fretted over when I would have time, and then, eureka! Why couldn’t I “blanch” the kale, freeze it, and then make the soup once the holiday frenzy is past?

I know that blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. If vegetables are not blanched, or blanching is not long enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage causing off-colors, off-flavors and toughening. Blanching involves submerging the vegetable in boiling water for a specified time and then “shocking” with cold water to stop the cooking process.

After thinking about it, (and after labeling my bags!)  I decided that what I had done was more of a “par-cooking” than a true blanching. I had seasoned the kale with onion and garlic during the process, and I had not submerged/shocked the kale. But, regardless of what you call it, I now have two bags of kale in my freezer – all ready for sausage/kale/potato soup when the mood hits!


Onion (I used red)
Olive oil


Prepare kale: wash, de-stem, and chop. I chopped mine finely because I don’t like a mouthful of string-y kale in my soup.

Sauté red onion in a little bit of olive oil. When translucent, add garlic and stir to prevent burning.


Sautéed red onion and garlic

Add chopped kale and stir well.


Add chopped kale to the skillet!

Cover and steam for about 5 minutes. I had to add water to one of the two batches I prepared. I’m guessing one type of kale has more moisture than the other.


Cover skillet to trap in that steam!

Allow to cool and then bag in a freezer storage bag. Label well and then chill in refrigerator before freezing. This will prevent ice crystals from forming.


Ready for the freezer!

When ready to make that pot of soup, just pull out your par-cooked kale and have at it!

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It’s become somewhat of a game to come up with new ways to incorporate kale into my recipes, but it actually hasn’t been that difficult. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m aware of kale now, but it seems to be everywhere! Last night I was flipping through the latest Williams Sonoma catalog and saw a recipe for Butternut Kale Strata to bake for Christmas morning. I’ll be trying out that recipe soon. This week I’m using this recipe from Southern Living. I love pizza. I love blue cheese. I’ve grown to love kale, so it was a no-brainer to try this recipe.


Skillet Kale Pizza


1 pound bakery pizza dough (I used ready-made canned)

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 cups firmly packed coarsely chopped kale

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons plain yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded fontina cheese (I substituted smoked provolone)

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


Main ingredients for Skillet Kale Pizza


Preheat oven to 450°.

Prepare kale: wash, de-stem, and chop. The recipe says to chop “coarsely” but I didn’t want big chunks of kale, so I chopped it finely. One bag of kale yielded exactly 4 cups!

Cook onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add kale and rosemary.


Chopped kale joins sautéed red onion and garlic.

Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or just until wilted. Stir in vinegar. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl.

Prepare dough: Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  I used a store-bought pizza crust. I usually use this recipe and make my own dough, but a ready-to-go store version helped in this busy holiday season.

Wipe skillet clean. Reduce heat to medium. Coat skillet with 2 tsp. oil; sprinkle with cornmeal.


Cornmeal keeps dough from sticking.

Arrange dough in skillet, gently stretching edges to cover bottom and sides of skillet.


Fit dough into cast iron skillet.

Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove from heat.If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, use a regular pizza pan or cookie sheet. Precook in hot oven for about 5 minutes before topping with kale mixture.

Top with kale mixture and cheeses.  The original recipe calls for fontina cheese, but it is quite pricey at $7.59 for 9 ozs. I researched and read that smoked provolone is an acceptable substitute, and much more affordable at $3.39 for 8 ozs.  I weighed out 2 ozs. on my digital scale; I could just as easily have read serving info and determined how much each slice weighs, but I like using my digital scale!


Love my digital scale!


I sliced and chopped the cheese slices.

Brush edges of the dough with remaining 1 tsp. oil.


Ready for a hot oven!

Bake at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with red pepper. (I actually forgot this step, but the pizza was still delicious!)


Cheese melted into kale!

I really enjoyed this pizza and served it with creamy tomato basil soup made with summer tomatoes. The two cheeses melted down into the kale and the crust was crispy! If you prefer a softer crust, I would reduce the time on the stove-top before popping into the oven.


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Another perfect head of cabbage in the CSA box presented an opportunity to try a recipe I got from my sister-in-law years ago. I discovered I’ve been missing out on an easy and delicious one-pot meal!  Bake some hot cornbread to sop up the juices and you’ll be in comfort-food zone on a cold, wet evening.



head of cabbage

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. breakfast sausage (bulk, not link or patties)

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can Rotel tomatoes


Brown ground beef and sausage. When nicely caramelized, add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until transparent. You don’t need to add much salt/pepper because of the soup and tomatoes.


Add onion and garlic to caramelized beef/sausage.

Add garlic and stir to prevent burning. Turn off heat and elevate skillet to drain off fat. While this drains, give the cabbage a rough chop and place in bottom of a greased oven-proof casserole dish.


Elevate skillet to drain off fat.

Remove fat from skillet. If there isn’t much, I use a paper towel to soak it up.


Paper towel absorbs fat.

Stir in soup and tomatoes. Mix well. These two ingredients provide the moisture (and seasoning) for the cabbage to absorb.


Tomatoes and soup provide moisture.

Pour meat mixture on top of cabbage.


Meat mixture on top of cabbage!

Cover with lid and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove lid, stir well, and cook 30 more minutes, without a lid. Serve with hot cornbread!


Cold weather comfort food!



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The star of this post!

I pulled it out of the CSA box and thought, “Ok…..what do I do with this?” Are you with me? Since I’ve featured kale in the last few posts, it’s time to let another veggie have the spotlight! But first, I needed to know what I’m dealing with. A quick online search yielded this info:

Broccoli raab (also known as rapini or broccoli rabe) is related to both the cabbage and turnip family. The edible parts are the leaves, buds, and stems. The buds somewhat resemble broccoli, but do not form a large head. Small, edible yellow flowers may be blooming among the buds. The greens have a pungent, bitter flavor that is not particularly popular in America where, more often than not, they are used as animal fodder. Italians are particularly fond of broccoli raab, however, and cook it in a variety of ways including frying, steaming and braising. It can also be used in soups or salads. It is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. Broccoli raab should be wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 5 days.

I scanned several recipes featuring this leafy vegetable but decided to do a basic tutorial on how to cook it. Perhaps future blog posts will feature it as a main ingredient!


Broccoli raab


Olive oil



Prep the broccoli raab by washing well. Fill a large bowl with cold water and put it in the sink. Take a stalk of broccoli raab and pull off each leaf and put it in the water.


Tear leaves and rinse to clean.

According to Cooks Illustrated, chopping broccoli raab increases the bitterness because it releases more of the compounds (isothiocyantes) that cause the greens to taste bitter, so don’t chop – tear.

Next, break off the tough bottom of the stalk and save for your compost pile. Some references said that the tough stem can be peeled and used as well. Since the stems on my bunch were rather thin, I used them. I figured they would cook up to be tender. (Note: some did/some didn’t! In the future, I’ll discard the thicker stems.)

Put the floret top in the water. Repeat until you have trimmed all the broccoli raab. Swish it around in the water and then allow to sit for a few minutes. The goal is to allow any bits of dirt, etc. to wash off the leaves and sink down in to the bottom of the pot of water.

Next, pull them out by the handful and put them in the other large pot. You want to keep some water on the leaves to help them steam while cooking. This is also supposed to help cut the bitter taste.

Several recipes instructed to blanch the broccoli raab before cooking – anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in boiling water followed by an ice water bath. It is supposed to remove the bitterness and speed up cooking time. My Cooks Illustrated version did not suggest this, so I didn’t. Maybe I’ll do a comparison test of both procedures sometime!

Pour enough olive oil in a covered skillet to just cover the bottom of the pot. Chop the garlic and add to the warm olive oil. Keep the heat low as garlic burns easily and becomes bitter. We already have enough of “the bitter” factor going on. 🙂


Infuse garlic into olive oil over low heat.

Heat until the garlic starts to cook, a minute or two.

Add the broccoli raab to the garlic and oil. Salt lightly.


See that yellow flower? Totally edible!

Cover the pot when cooking so the greens are being cooked more by the heat of the steam than by sautéing.


Steam in covered skillet.

Simmer for about 25 minutes, depending on how much broccoli raab you are preparing, and how thick the stems are. I thought this time was excessive, so I checked at 10 minutes. All moisture was gone but stems were still very tough. I added more water and 10 more minutes to timer. At the end of that period, I added a bit more water and 5 more minutes, for a total of 25 – just as instructed! Some of the stems were still fairly tough, but the rest was tender and ready!



I read that broccoli raab pairs very nicely with marinara sauce and Italian sausage. I had left-over pizza topped with both, so I decided to make a quick lunch out of these two foods. Delicious!


Leftover pizza topped with broccoli raab!

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I’m having so much fun trying out new ways to use our CSA kale! Once again, Real Simple magazine came to my rescue with a slow-cooker recipe. The full recipe name is: Slow-Cooker Sausage and Kale Stew With Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes. Any time I can just chop and throw ingredients into a crock pot and walk away for several hours, I am a fan! Let’s get started!



1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and broken into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 small bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving


Wash kale and tear into small pieces or roughly chop and set aside. It will be added to the crock pot last. I used the entire bag of kale; it was about 8 cups or so of chopped kale. I figured if the stew was too thick, I could always add more water or broth.

Remove casing from sausage and break apart. Put into crock pot.


Remove casings and chop.

Chop onion and garlic and add to crock pot along with the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, garlic, 1 cup water, and ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Peel the potatoes and then nestle in the liquid.


Potatoes: peeled and nestled!

Top with the kale.


Top with chopped kale.

At this point, I realized my crock pot was too small! I had to really pack the kale in there, so I transferred everything to a larger crock pot. It was still very full!


Full to the brim!

Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. I set mine to high, and after two hours, I checked to make sure the kale was cooking down. It was, and I stirred to mix the ingredients and pushed the kale down into the liquid, making sure the potatoes stayed on top so they wouldn’t get too mushy.


Cooking down nicely!

At the end of 4 hours, I checked the potatoes for doneness. They were! I removed them from the crock pot into a medium bowl and mashed them with milk, oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. I used just a drizzle of olive oil, though, rather than the stated half cup.


Mashed potatoes!

Serve the stew topped with the mashed potatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.


Comfort food on a cold autumn day!

Here’s a Time-Saver Tip! To make the morning less hectic, prep this the night before: Combine everything but the sausage and kale in the slow cooker and refrigerate, covered. In the morning, just add the sausage, top with the kale, and start stewing.

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I have had such luck with kale recipes from Real Simple magazine that I decided to go to their website and search KALE. This recipe caught my eye. It reminded me of creamed spinach or Spinach Madeline, a Louisiana classic. It turned out to be a great choice!


I had all ingredients on hand!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn (about 10 cups)
  • 1 shallot, sliced (I used purple onion and added garlic!)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up


Heat oven to 375° F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The recipe calls for a shallot, but I didn’t have one, so I used what I had on hand: a purple onion. I chopped about half of a medium-sized one and sautéed it in the olive oil until tender.


Let onions sauté while you work on kale.

While the onion was sautéing, I washed and de-stemmed  the kale. I used the entire bag from the CSA box. I stacked leaves, rolled them, and chopped. I wanted fairly small pieces.


Chopped and waiting!

Once the onions were caramelized, I added the garlic. The recipe doesn’t call for garlic, but I love the depth of flavor it adds.


Garlic and onion!

I added the salt and pepper and then tossed in the chopped kale. I stirred as it wilted down and continued to cook it for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Use a large enough skillet to hold all the kale.

The cream cheese and sour cream were then added to the hot mixture, and they melted easily.


Cream cheese and sour cream melt easily..

I mixed it well and then transferred the mixture to a shallow baking dish. I was surprised by how much all that kale cooked down. I had to change to a smaller baking dish!



Fresh bread crumbs and butter went on top! I’m sure store-bought bread crumbs would work just as well, but since I had some ends of sour dough bread, I threw them into a food processor and made some bread crumbs. Two full pieces and two small pieces yielded a little more than one cup of crumbs. I went ahead and used it all!


Ready to crisp up in a hot oven!

After about 8 minutes in a hot oven, I had a golden brown dish of creamy yumminess!


Creamy, nutritious and delicious!

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I really hit the jackpot with the last issue of Real Simple magazine.  There were several recipes in there that I knew I could use with our CSA produce. When I saw the carrots and kale, I remembered this recipe.



1 pound carrots (about 6) sliced

6 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons roasted almonds, plus more, chopped, for serving

1 clove garlic

1/2 small bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan (1/3 cup) plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

16 to 18 ounces fresh or frozen cheese ravioli


Heat oven to 450° F.

Toss the carrots, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing once, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. NOTE: the CSA bunch of carrots weighed right under half-pound, so I added additional carrots.


cover carrots with foil to speed up cooking time

When I roast potatoes or carrots, I gather them into the center and cover with foil. This speeds up the cooking process. It works especially well before adding more tender veggies that cook quickly. I bake them covered for 10 minutes, remove foil, and roast until golden brown. Once the carrots are roasted, set aside. They will be used later.


Roasted and ready!

Meanwhile, prepare pesto ingredients: wash, de-stem, chop kale; toast almonds, and zest lemon.


A microplane makes zesting fun!

Pulse the almonds and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the kale,  Parmesan, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; pulse until finely chopped.

With the machine running, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil. Process until smooth.


Add oil slowly while the processor does its thing!

Recipe reviews suggested adding basil to the pesto, but I decided to follow the original instructions, and I’m glad I did. The pesto had a fresh flavor due to the lemon zest and garlic.


Kale pesto: vibrant color!

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. The recipe calls for fresh or frozen ravioli, but I used dried and it worked fine.


dried ravioli from Trader Joe’s

Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the ravioli and return them to the pot.  Add the carrots, pesto, and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water and toss gently to coat.  (adding more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce).


Into the hot pot!


Reserved water helps mixture come together.

 Serve warm, sprinkled with the additional chopped almonds and Parmesan. We really enjoyed this new way to cook with kale. The cheesy ravioli, flavorful sauce, roasted carrots, and almond crunch all came together in a delightful dish!

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My husband loves stuffed bell peppers, so what to do with all these farm peppers was a no-brainer!

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion
2-3 pods of garlic
salt and pepper
2 cups of cooked rice
6-8 bell peppers

8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
A few drops Hot Sauce if desired


BROWN the ground beef and season with chopped onion, chopped garlic and salt and pepper.


Ground beef seasoned with onion and garlic.

Fold in the cooked rice. I learned this recipe from my Cajun mother-in-law, and she always uses white rice, but since I’ve been trying to use more brown rice, that’s what I used this time. I am so happy with Alton Brown’s method of cooking brown rice. It’s a no-fail method!


Perfectly cooked, fluffy brown rice every time!

There are 269 reviews to Alton’s method with some great ideas of “add ins” such as chicken and different spices. I follow the suggestion of using chicken broth instead of water and leaving out the salt. I usually double the recipe and freeze the left-overs in 2 cup portions.

PREPARE the peppers by cutting off the tops and scooping out the seeds and membranes.



I chopped up the tops and froze to use later.

BLANCH the bell peppers for one minute. This makes them more pliable when stuffing and helps them bake up nice and tender.


Blanch the peppers to make them pliable for stuffing.

Stuff the beef/rice mixture into the blanched bell peppers. I begin by filling them ¾ full and then add more if there is mixture left over.


Mix up the tomato sauce topping and spoon over the top of each pepper.


Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Enjoy now, or cool and then freeze to enjoy later!


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These unseasonable and delightful cooler temps are the perfect incentive for meals out on the patio. Our daughter invited us over for supper and backyard games and served pizza topped with the most delicious veggies I’ve ever eaten. When I inquired, she said she followed this recipe.

I’ve roasted vegetables before, but I’ve always used large chunks and served as a side to the entrée. This version calls for smaller pieces roasted until almost charred. They are then used to top pizza or added to sandwiches or hot pasta. This is a great way to use up that lone yellow squash or eggplant you have in the refrigerator. I changed up the recipe and added yellow squash and mushrooms.


Use whatever veggies you have on hand.


1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow squash

1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup chopped mushrooms

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 450°.

Prepare vegetables for roasting. Here you see red bell pepper, green bell pepper, eggplant and yellow squash. Since mushrooms cook so quickly, I held them out until the last 15 minutes of roasting.


Uniform pieces make for even roasting.

Prepare the oil mixture. I nestled a plastic storage bag into a bowl and added the oil, garlic, salt and pepper.


A press easily crushes garlic.

Add the chopped veggies to the bag. Gently shake and massage through the bag to coat evenly with the oil mixture. My hands stayed clean,  and I tossed the bag when done.


Quick and easy clean-up!

Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spread out vegetables.


Parchment paper helps in clean-up.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, stirring halfway through.  (Remember to add the mushrooms if using.)

I recommend that you check often during the last 20 minutes. Mine went from “almost ready” to “Oops! Almost too much!” very quickly!


Charring the veggies adds a smoky flavor.

Let cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Toss with basil and vinegar. I love balsamic vinegar! Coupled with the fresh basil, it adds a unique depth of flavor.

Use immediately, store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days, or freeze for later use. I used these for pizza, but I’m anxious to try them tossed with hot pasta and covered with a fresh tomato sauce like this one or Allison’s version here.

I hope you enjoy this version of roasted veggies!

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