Guilt Free for the Big Game from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

As I shuffled through a gazillion options for a slightly “less loaded” meal for Super Bowl, I couldn’t overlook some of the natural most vibrant recipes from my new cookbook co-authored by Michael Heller. The perspective of the book (out this Spring 2011) is shown from the grass based farmer-Michael Heller and the chef-yours truly. We’ll get into the recipes in a sec, but 1st I wanted to share some positive foodie headlines with you.

Local Foodie News


Mark Bittman – A New Food Manifesto

Since Mark Bittman has left his creative food column at the NY Times, he hasn’t left us completely alone in our kitchens. No he wants to establish more of an influence in repairing our food system. Change anyone?

This paragraph jumped off the computer screen while appealing to the food educator in me as I say, “Let’s Get Cooking!”

“Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (Someday soon, I’ll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.) When people cook their own food, they make better choices. When families eat together, they’re more stable. We should provide food education for children (a new form of home ec, anyone?), cooking classes for anyone who wants them and even cooking assistance for those unable to cook for themselves.”


Joan Gussow Inspires a Whole Community of Food Magazines along with her stellar book:

This headline caught my eye. We may not immediately recognize her name, but I read the synopsis of the talk the 82 years young Jane gave at the national conference for all of the Edible Communities publishers. As a nutritionist and visionary author Jane rallies against industrial food-way ahead of the mentors we uphold today.

For the recipes of this particular blog, I don’t know if I’m singing to the choir or talking to a brick wall. HOWEVER…not all snacks are created equal. In other words, one can eat special treats for the big game and not blow a weeks worth of calories!

Start with a fulfilling warm spread/dip and follow with more hand food by way of  soft tacos loaded with grilled pastured chicken and locally made cheese which can be found at our winter farmers market in Anne Arundel County.

For sweets to finish, I suggest some frozen yogurt cookie sandwiches which can be easily assembled ahead and stored in the freezer.

Warm Bean Spinach Spread with Caramelized Onions

Makes 3 cups; Serves 12

A dish, warm and soothing is just what we need with the crazy weather this winter. Of course a warm dip (or spread) is even better when watching the really big Super Bowl Game. I find this spread has a lot more character using arugula rather than spinach. The slight bitterness lends a great balance with the sweet caramelized onions-which are a hot item these days.


  • 5 ounces baby arugula (3 cups) or spinach, wilted drained and chopped
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed, dry roasted and ground
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced and caramelized

Winter Crudites

  • 1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes (about 6), halved
  • 12 small carrots
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into florets
  • 3 stalks celery, halved with light green leaves attached
  • Fresh baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half


Preheat oven to 350F.


Pulse ricotta and cannellini beans in a food processor until smooth. Add cumin seed, olive oil and lemon zest; pulse to incorporate; adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in arugula or spinach and place in a small baking dish.


Bake 20 minutes and then top with caramelized onions; bake another 10 minutes. Serve warm surrounded with fresh winter veggies.

I’ve added a preview recipe from the new cookbook I have coauthored with Michael Heller of Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clagett Farm. The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up! (link it-, The ultimate guide to grilling, smoking, and barbecuing with pasture-raised meats from America’s small farms

Soft Shredded-Chicken Tacos

Everyone—young, old, and in-between—loves tacos as they are simple and satisfying.

Soft tacos are becoming very popular. If you want to avoid the fried version, you can grill your own. Chicken breast or thigh meat will work with this recipe but the dark meat is moister and it has a richer flavor. The components here are quite basic, but nothing beats a great taco!

If you want to make this meal more of a party, offer the toppings as a big spread and let people build their own. Include additional toppings, such as radishes, beans, fresh corn kernels, and olive slices.

serves 4

for the spice mix:

  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts
  • 12 6-inch white corn tortillas
  • 1½ cups thinly sliced sturdy green lettuce such as romaine
  • ¼ cup, about 1 ounce, queso fresco, artisan cheddar or shredded Monterey
  • Jack cheese
  • ¼ cup sliced radishes
  • Avocado slices, sprinkle with lime juice to prevent browning

for serving:

sour cream and fresh lime wedges

Heat the grill to high.

In a small bowl, combine the oregano ground cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a rub; and press all over the chicken.

Grease the grill rack and then grill chicken over direct heat for 10 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes, remove bones, then shred (or pull apart) with your fingers.

Heat the tortillas on the grill (along with the chicken) and keep warm until the chicken is grilled. Divide the shredded chicken evenly among the tortillas; top the chicken with equal parts of the lettuce, cheese and radishes. Add an avocado slice, if desired. Slather with pico de gallo, and red or tomatillo salsa with your choice of heat. Serve sour cream and lime wedges on the side.