cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Sesame Tamari Sauce

I have been charmed of late by the dynamic duo of Ann and Jane Esselstyn, who host a series of YouTube videos featuring plant-based and heart-healthy recipes.

Their family, through individual efforts and the Esselstyn Foundation, is dedicated to “eradicating lifestyle related diseases through whole food, plant-based nutrition.” Ann and Jane have created recipes for several books including The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Plant-Strong, and The Engine 2 Cookbook. You can find out more about all of that on Jane’s website, here.

Jane and her mom Ann are a sassy duo, enthusiastic about their food lifestyle that includes lots of the healthy food things we all need more of in our diets. You know, things like kale.

This week, I’ve taken notes about their French Lentil with Grapes and Mint salad, chocolate tofu pudding, and cheesy chickpeas. But it was their Savory Sesame Green Beans recipe that had me at hello.

My favorite Chinese take-out restaurant, Moon Star — replaced now by a (gag) Chipotle — used to make the best sesame green beans. I ordered them a lot: seasame green beans, boneless spareribs, and steamed dumplings was a regular order. So when I saw the Esselstyns’ recipe, I had to try it!

The headliner of this dish is the Sesame Tamari Sauce, an easy-to-make concoction that will transform your beans or snow peas…or maybe even Kale. They’ll just POP with flavor!


2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons low-sodium tamari

Toast sesame seeds in the oven or in a pan, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Place in a small grinder or food processor and process just until ground. Put sesame seeds in a small bowl and add honey and tamari. Stir until mixed and just crumbly. Add to hot green beans or use with any vegetable. This recipe goes a long way: it is enough for 1-1/2pounds green beans.

So try it. Then grab a healthy snack and join me for a few more of these fun and informative videos!

Essay ©2020, Jen Payne. Original recipe from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. M.D.
cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard

I make a mean swiss chard smoothie. Swiss chard, banana, blueberry, green tea, protein powder. Mmmm. Mmmm. But even I get tired of that concoction after a while.

So what does one do when the local CSA delivers so much swiss chard your crisper drawer won’t close?

Hey Siri: Find me a recipe for swiss chard.

A quick internet search recently took me to the Blue Apron website and a tasty recipe for Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard.

It’s a surprising dish, I think because of the blend of spices used in the meatballs: onion powder, paprika, ground fennel, celery seed, garlic powder, marjoram, and cayenne pepper. This is not your Italian grandma’s meatball!

According to meal kit service Blue Apron, “the word ragout comes from the French ragoûter, which means to revive the taste or appetite.” And indeed, this make a satisfying supper, especially for the chilly nights we’ve been enjoying lately.

I modified the recipe slightly to my own tastes and tolerances — and ingredients I had on-hand — but I’ll include a link to the complete recipe below.

Not included in that version is the insistence that you serve this with a loaf of crusty bread and your favorite, lush red wine.

Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard

10 oz ground beef
1 carrot
1/2 yellow onion
1 sweet potato
½ bunch swiss chard, rinsed
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
a splash (or two) of red wine
1 tablespoon of flour
¼ cup plain panko breadcrumbs

4 parts onion powder
4 parts sweet paprika
4 parts ground fennel seeds
2 parts celery seeds
2 parts garlic powder
1 part whole dried marjoram
1 part ground cayenne pepper

Peel the carrot, and thinly slice. Chop the onion finely, and dice the sweet potato. Roughly chop the swiss chard leaves, then thinly slice the stems, keeping them separate. Make and set aside a slurry with the flour (or cornstarch) and ¼ cup of water.

For the meatballs, mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and spice mix. Then form 12-14 equal-sized meatballs, about 1″ round. Brown them in olive oil, 4-6 minutes, until browned on all sides, then transfer to a plate.

Add the sweet potato to the pan — leaving all the browned bits for flavor — season with salt and pepper, and cook until lightly browned. Add the carrots, onion, and swiss chard stems. Cook 4-6 minutes until softened, then add the sundried tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, 1-2 minutes.

Finally, add the meatballs back into the pan, along with the chard leaves, red wine, and 1-1/2 cups of water. Cook for about one minute, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for any remaining browned bits.

Bring to a boil and add the slurry while stirring to blend. Reduce the heat and cook 2-4 more minutes until the broth has thickened slightly. Season to taste and serve.

This is a delicious supper, a tasty leftover tomorrow night — or add a poached egg to the bowl and consider it a protein-rich breakfast to substitute that swiss chard smoothie! Enjoy!

(Click here to read the original Blue Apron recipe with more detailed instructions.)

Essay ©2020, Jen Payne. Recipe ©2020, Blue Apron.
cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Miso Corn Sauté

Foodie Friday: Miso Corn Sauté

The radio and I have a long history of discovery. Several bars of music led me to Nanci Griffith and Jenny Owen Youngs. There are plenty of books on my bookshelf recommended by one guest author or another, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice.

Recipes, too, find their way onto my Look It Up list via the radio. It goes something like this:

Mmm. That sounds good.
Mmm. I have those ingredients at home.
Mmm. I could make that!

Such was the case last week as I was listening to an interview with Kathy Gunst about summer vegetables on Here and Now. I was just getting off Exit 54 as she excitedly explained…

“And then, this was a revelation, I sauteed fresh corn kernels off the cob with a little bit of butter and fresh ginger and white miso paste. So, miso is full of umami, it’s very very full flavored, and I thought ‘would miso and corn work’? Well, the answer is absolutely yes. This is a five minute recipe that you can eat on its own, sprinkled over grilled fish, ramen, soups, rice dishes. Really straight-forward.”

So I made it for supper. No recipe – just the simple recollection of “corn, butter, ginger, miso.” It was delicious!

If you’re like me, you’re a corn purist: boil, butter, salt, eat. But, for those moments you think: what else can I do with this? Definitely try this recipe for Miso Corn Sauté. Trust me.


2 ears fresh corn
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 scallion, finely chopped, white and green sections
1 tablespoon white or light miso paste


  1. Strip the husks and silk off the corn. Hold corn up in a large bowl, narrow tip up, and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the ginger and half the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the miso paste and using a spoon, stir together to create a smooth paste. Cook 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir to coat all the kernels; cook 2 minutes.
  3. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallion.

For the complete episode of “Find Solace In Your Summer Harvest With 4 Delicious Dishes,” including the broadcast recording and recipes, click here.

cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Pissaladière

For the past few years, my boyfriend and I have signed up for a local CSA. A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a great way to get local, seasonal food directly from a farmer in your area.

Through a CSA, farmers offer a certain number of “shares” to the public. The share might include a box of vegetables along with other farm products like eggs, honey, mushrooms, or cheese. You purchase a share and in return receive a weekly selection of seasonal offerings throughout the farming season.

I enjoy CSAs, I really do. I feel like I’m supporting local agriculture, eating good healthy food, and doing my part for the environment.

But, truth be told, I feel a little bit of pressure to eat all of the weekly food things in a timely manner. I see the next pick-up day on my calendar, then glance guiltily at the crisper drawer wondering if I’ve finished all of the kale and kohlrabi this week.

If all else fails, there are smoothies to be made. But if you have some extra time on your frequently-washed pandemic hands, do what I do and source out some interesting recipes for those straggler veggies in the crisper. A little Google search’ll do ya!

Take for example this recipe for a Leek, Green Olive and Sultana Pissaladière I found on the Olive Magazine website! According to their notes, a pissaladière (pronounce) is a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France. From Nice, how nice!

The recipe includes homemade dough for the crust, but I cheated and bought some fresh-made pizza dough at my grocery store and followed its directions for preparation.

Then you just heat the olive oil in a frying pan, stir in finely sliced leeks, cover and cook gently for 40-50 minutes. Once the leeks soften, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sultanas (aka golden raisins for those of you who don’t watch Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver).

Heat your oven to 425˚ F, then roll and press the dough out to a large rectangle. Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan (the real kind please) over the surface, spread the leek mixture on top, then add the quartered green olives.

The recipe suggests adding bay leaves, but I think pine nuts would add just a little more decadence. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

You’re welcome.

• For the complete recipe, visit OLIVE MAGAZINE

• For more information on a CSA near you, visit LOCAL HARVEST