Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine started with a trip to the downtown farmer’s market on Saturday morning with my favorite shopping partner – my Mom!
It was her birthday on Saturday, so we started celebrating with a latte and long stroll through the market (no pics of the birthday girl, unfortunately – what was I thinking?!) where we ooed and aahd over all the beautiful fall produce interspersed with late-season summer goodies like these beautiful heirloom-y-ish cherry tomatoes. I can’t remember exactly what they were called but the red, yellow, orange, and purple hues knocked my socks off.
I wanted to take home ALL THE FALL THINGS, but restrained myself because apple picking was on the agenda for Sunday afternoon at Berry Patch Farm!
Ben and I found this adorable small berry farm and apple orchard about 30 minutes away from our house in 2009 and have gone almost every year since. Berry Patch Farm is free to get into and their pick your own prices for berries, apples, and pumpkins are ridiiiculous. One year I think I got 10lbs of Honeycrisp apples for $5 or something!
This year my Mom really wanted to get all the kids and grandkids together to go apple picking for her birthday so off we went on a sunny Sunday afternoon. My niece and nephew loved picking late-season raspberries and running up and down the endless rows of apple trees.
I had a little monkey on my back the whole time and was sweatin’ – summer just doesn’t seem to want to quit!
After berry picking we headed for the Honeycrisps then walked and walked and walked to find some unpicked trees which we quickly stripped. Can’t wait to enjoy our fresh pickins’ over the next few weeks.
We tried to continue Ben’s and my tradition of heading to nearby Hickory Park for lunch afterwards, but everyone in the vicinity had the same idea and there was nearly a 1 hour wait to eat. With two kiddos under three who needed an afternoon nap, unfortunately we had to call it a wrap, but what a fun day anyway!
Now, although I didn’t get a chance to use yesterday’s goodies in today’s recipe, I made it with our orchard visit in mind. Smoked Sausage, Kale and Cider Quinoa Skillet combines smoked sausage, fresh kale, apple cider, sage, and dried cranberries with fluffy quinoa in a hearty, all-fall main dish. No side required!
I burned the roof of my mouth eating this dish because I simply could not wait one minute longer for it to cool down before digging in. Not a second! The ingredients include some of my all-time favorites and the dish is bursting with flavor from the inside out. Smoked sausage? Gimme. Fresh sage, kale, and dried cranberries? Quintessential fall comfort food. Quinoa cooked in chicken broth AND cider? A revelation.
Now, don’t think that since this dish is made with apple cider that it’s sweet. I promise it’s not. The apple cider, when combined with chicken broth, gives the quinoa just a hint of savory apple flavor. I served it to Ben with the warning, you might not like this!, on account of his distaste for sweeter suppers you see, but he demolished his plate.
Even better than the flavor is the fact that this dish is seriously simple and made in just one skillet. Cleanup in aisle not your kitchen, amiright?
Start by sauteing 12oz smoked sausage that’s been sliced in half then into half moons with 4 cups chopped lacinato kale, 1 large shallot, and 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until the sausage starts to turn golden brown and the kale is tender, 5-7 minutes.
I used Johnsonville smoked sausage, by the way. It’s gluten-free and tastes awesome. It was Ben’s and my favorite part of the whole dish! It should be right next to the keilbasa, etc at the grocery store.
Next add 1 cup each apple cider and chicken broth then turn the heat up to bring the liquid to a boil. Now, like I mentioned, the apple cider does not make this dish taste sweet, just…yummy! Hard to explain, but you’ve got to taste it for yourself to understand.
Make sure you’re using apple cider vs apple juice, by the way. Juice will make the dish taste sweet since it’s almost always loaded with extra sugar. Pure, unfiltered apple cider is where it’s at.
Now add 1 cup rinsed quinoa to the skillet. Quinoa is coated in a naturally-occuring bitter substance that needs to be rinsed off under running water in a fine mesh sieve first. Oo, oo! I discovered a cool new trick to make sure none of the quinoa falls through the sieve (a huge pet peeve of mine!) Wet the sieve with water before adding the quinoa. The water creates a barrier and not a single quinoa pearl fell through.
Turn the heat down to medium then place a lid on top and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid and is tender, 20-25 minutes.
Finally, stir in 1/4 cup dried cranberries (which ARE sweet, so if you don’t like sweet dinners then you can leave them out,) then take the skillet off the heat but leave the lid on for 5 minutes to heat the dried cranberries through.
Scoop onto plates then dig in!
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Smoked Sausage, Kale and Cider Quinoa Skillet
Smoked Sausage, Kale and Cider Quinoa Skillet is simple, full of hearty fall flavors, and made in just one skillet.
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 12oz smoked sausage (I used Johnsonville)
- 4 cups chopped lacinato kale
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well under cold running water
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add sausage, kale, shallot, and sage. Season lightly with salt and pepper then saute until sausage begins to turn golden brown and kale is tender, 5-7 minutes. Add cider and chicken broth then turn heat up to bring to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to medium and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove skillet from heat then stir in cranberries and let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I was so happy with how filling this dish is on account of the sausage and protein-packed quinoa. The kale helped heft up each bite and the cider and sage really reinforced this cozy comfort factor of this dish. Enjoy it!