Monday, May 18, 2020

Bison and Cactus Chili

Nopales Cacti, more commonly known as Prickly Pears, are discoverable by their round, flower-producing petals. These blue-green pads are edible and when processed, add a citrus punch to any dish. They can be purchased at select health food stores, farmers markets, or harvested with a trusted guide.


  • Use freshly ground black pepper for deeper, more potent flavor.
  • Leave some jalapeño seeds for an added kick.
  • Go for all beef or all bison if that’s what you have in the kitchen, or to get the full taste of one type of meat.
  • Be vigilant when purchasing broths and stocks. Read the list of ingredients, less is more. Look for low sodium. Some trusted brands include Pacific Foods, Kettle & Fire, and Bonafide.
  • Consider serving this chili recipe with polenta (pictured below) or cornbread. 

1 cup Nopales cactus, diced
5 jalapeños, halved, deseeded
1 yellow onion, diced, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup cilantro, chopped

5 tablespoons ghee (substitute olive oil, lard, or butter)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon (or two!)
1 ½ pounds ground bison
1 pound ground beef
2 cups beef broth
2 ¼ cups water
2 tablespoons masa harina (cornmeal)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Optional Toppings:
Sour cream
Lime wedge

Cactus Salsa

1.     Set oven temperature to broil. Place cactus, pepper, jalapeños, and ¼ cup of onions on a baking tray. Add olive oil, salt, cumin, and pepper and toss to fully coat. Broil until golden brown (about 8-10 minutes).
2.     Remove from oven and place ingredients in a high-speed blender. Add the cilantro and pulse until a thick, even texture is produced and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set the cactus salsa aside as it will be used as your chili’s base.
3.     Heat a large pot or Dutch oven to medium-high and add the fat. Add rest of the onions and sauté for a few minutes, until aroma develops. Add the garlic, cactus salsa, and spices. Stir occasionally to heat mixture evenly- it will begin to thicken.
4.     Add the meat and quarter into smaller chunks to help separate it, mixing to incorporate. Pour in broth, water, and masa harina, and mix to avoid any clumping. Bring liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer (light bubbles surfacing), cover the lid, and let cook for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.
5.     Stir in the sugar and vinegar and add salt if needed. Let simmer for another 10 minutes to impart more flavor.
6.     Serve with a dollop of sour cream, freshly chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Prickly Pear Cactus Variety

Recipe adapted by Ashley Chavez from Epicurious at
 , author Stanley Lobel, September 2009.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Pickled Radish Spring Salad and Citrus Vinaigrette

Resembling a slaw, this raw salad refreshes the palate with each crunchy bite.
This salad is a go-to when needing a lighter lunch or meal prepping.

Vegetarian | GF

·      Save the blood orange pulp to later blend in a smoothie.
·      Great options to swap out ingredients include radicchio, endives, Cara Cara oranges, and grapefruit.
·      This salad is so flavorful on its own that it doesn't need the pickled radish to complete it (as pictured above).

Salad Ingredients:
3 tablespoons yogurt
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cup snap peas
1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
½ Persian cucumber, thin circles
¼ cup pickled radish (see recipe below)
2 large rainbow chard leaves, destemmed and stems saved
3 sprigs fresh thyme, destemmed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
Juice from 1 blood orange
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.     In a small mixing bowl, add the yogurt and salt. Whisk in the olive oil and set aside.
2.     In another bowl, add the cabbage, fennel, snap peas, onion, cucumbers, and pickled radish. Set aside.
3.     Stack the destemmed chard leaves and roll tightly starting from the root side. Make thin, vertical cuts to produce “ribbons” of chard, and cut those in half so they fit on a fork. Set the leaves aside or in their own bowl. Slice stems thinly and add them to the other vegetables.
4.     Peel the blood orange and use a lemon squeezer to juice it into a large mixing bowl. (If you don’t have one, do it by hand and pick out the seeds). Add the red wine vinegar, honey, and whisk in the olive oil until the colors and textures homogenize. Adjust dressing with salt and pepper.
5.     Add the ribboned chard leaves to the dressing, gently massaging them until fully wet. Add in the rest of the vegetables, tossing salad until evenly coated.
6.     To plate your art piece, smear the yogurt with a kitchen paintbrush or rubber spatula onto a plate. Add heaping spoonfuls of salad, sprinkle with fresh thyme and poppy seeds. Option to add blood orange slices before serving.

Time: 25 minutes + 24 hours for the pickling
Yields: 4 servings

Adapted by Ashley Chavez from an original recipe by Haley Hazell, 2020.

Quick Pickled Radish

Quick pickling is a simple solution for those that enjoy the tangy, lip-puckering sensation that fermented veggies bring but don’t quite have the time or equipment to make it. This recipe brings a pop of color and a zing of flavor to any dish.

1 bunch radish, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water

1.     Place radish in a 20-oz Mason jar and set aside.
2.     In a small saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Make sure the sugar is dissolved and stir if necessary.
3.     Pour mixture into Mason jar to fully submerge the radish. If radish is not covered, pour in as much water as needed.
4.     Seal the jar and place in refrigerator. The radishes are ready to eat in 6-8 hours, but the longer they sit, the more flavor! Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Time: 15 minutes + 1 day for optimal flavor
Yields: ~ 1 cup

Adapted by Ashley Chavez from an original recipe by Alex Vido, 2020.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Sweet Potato, Radish, and Fennel Kale Salad with Dill Caesar Dressing

This recipe is inspired by Half Baked Harvest’s rendition on a spicy Caesar salad. It’s the go-to salad to support the body’s transition from winter to spring. Its rooting yet refreshing vegetables can be found at a local farmer’s market. 

Vegetarian | GF


  • Get creative with the cuts. If you’d rather halve, quarter, or rustic chop a vegetable for palatable or plating purposes, go for it!
  • Always taste as you go and adjust seasoning accordingly- the salad dressing, the crispy chickpeas, etc.
  • If using dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) not in a can, make sure you prepare them a day or a few hours in advance by soaking them in water.
  • Parsley is a great substitute for fresh dill! I stumbled upon dill’s delicious punch by accident, as it was the only fresh herb left in the fridge.
  • This salad is little on the spicy side. Cut back on the chili powder if you want to tame the flavor.
  • If fennel and radish aren’t your jam, try shaved Brussels sprouts to add to the kale base.
  • This is an ideal salad to add cold, grilled chicken to.

Salad Ingredients:
2 small sweet potatoes, cut into ½ inch circles
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 large head of kale, destemmed and chopped
3 radish heads, thinly sliced and halved
½ bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, cubed

Dressing Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 grated BellaVitano cheese (or Parmesan)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste

1.     Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2.     Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper, tossing to evenly coat ingredients. Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes.
3.     Add the chickpeas and remaining olive oil to the sweet potatoes, and a few pinches of salt if desired. Return tray to oven and bake for 25 minutes. Check doneness by tasting a chickpea- they should have a nice crunch, as they will be the “croutons” of the salad.
4.     In that same large mixing bowl, add the kale and hand massage it for 1-3 minutes in the leftover oil and spices. Kale will begin to soften and turn a vibrant green. Add the radish, fennel, half of the avocado and toss again.
5.     To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
6.     Toss the roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas with the rest of the salad. Add the dressing and continue to toss. Top the salad with the remaining avocado and enjoy!

Time: 60 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Recipe adapted by Ashley Chavez from Half Baked Harvest at , author Tieghan Gerard, January 2020.