What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

November 18, 2011

Recipe: Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup With Chantilly Cream & Candied Pecans

Recipe: Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup With Chantilly Cream & Candied Pecans

Recipe & photos courtesy of our friend Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos. Luisa says, “Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash. It is popular for its strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture, which reminds me of roasted chestnuts. This would be a lovely first course for your thanksgiving dinner.” Time 1.5 hours. Serves 8.

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Chantilly Cream & Candied Pecans. Photos and recipe courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa's Catering.


  • 5 pounds kabocha squash
  • 4 TBL salted butter
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 TBL ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 TBL fresh thyme leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • brown sugar, to taste

Candied Pecans:

  • 4 oz pecans
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 4 TBL brown sugar
  • Use a hand blender to puree the roasted kaboucha.

    1 TBL honey

Chantilly Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ground cinnamon to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Place whole squash on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until it can be pierced easily with a toothpick. Remove and allow to cool then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and reserve.

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and sauté leek, celery and onion until soft over med-high heat. Add the chicken stock, cinnamon and thyme. Add the roasted squash and bring to a light simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Remove soup from heat and puree with a hand held blender until smooth (you can also use a regular blender). Strain into a clean container/pan and season to taste with lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the Chantilly cream: Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Fold in cinnamon.

Candied pecans add a lovely sweetness to the soup.

Prepare the candied pecans: Heat the butter in a sauté pan over low heat and add the pecans, stirring occasionally. Gradually add the sugar and honey and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sugar and honey binds to the pecans. Pour pecans on parchment paper and let cool. You may need to break apart some pecans that stick to each other.

To serve: ladle the soup into bowls, add a dollop of Chantilly cream to each serving and sprinkle with a few candied pecans.


November 14, 2011

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month: Frantoio/Leccino Blend from Chile

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month: Frantoio/Leccino Blend from Chile

This oil…wow. For starters, our featured blend this month boasts a 653 polyphenol count! It has a well-balanced flavor sensation that’s robust, yet very smooth, and it’s more mellow than you’d expect from an oil with such impressive stats. That’s the beauty of the blend of these two Italian olive cultivars!

Chile produced some magnificent oils this season, and the power of these oils combined made for a showstopper.

Frantoio/Leccino Blend

From Chile

This oil…

  • Presents a fruity punch with a very rounded finish. It’s not as in your face as you’d expect from an oil with a high polyphenol count; it’s big and fruity, yet complex and mellow.
  • Is an aromatic, grassy oil with flavor notes of green banana and green almond.
  • Would go well with any rice, pasta, hearty soup or whole grain dish as it adds flavor, but doesn’t overpower the dish.

Try it in our recipe for Local Lacinato Kale, Winter Squash and Cannellini Soup

November 4, 2011

Recipe: Local Lacinato Kale, Winter Squash and Cannellini Soup

Recipe: Local Lacinato Kale, Winter Squash and Cannellini Soup

The Frantoio Leccino olive oil blend from Chile goes well with this soup, adding another layer of flavor that doesn’t overpower the dish. I love adding a few dashes of Tabasco, a nod to my mother’s family who landed in New Orleans after leaving Sicily. You can also add cooked pancetta, but I left it out to keep it on the healthy side. Serves 6.


  • 1 1/2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio Leccino olive oil (Chile), plus another 1 1/2 TBL or more, divided,  for finishing
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems and veins removed (*see tip below), roughly chopped into strips
  • 8 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 1 1/2 lb. Butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled & diced to small cubes (about 2 c.)
  • 1 can of Cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
  • A dash or more, to taste, of Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish and added flavor

*Cook’s note: Kale is smaller so it’s difficult to cut out the stem and veins. An easy way to so this is with your hands: hold the stem at the base where leaf begins. With your other hand, hold the stem between your thumb and index finger knuckle, apply pressure and pull up, stripping the leaf from the stem. Discard stems.

Directions: In a large soup pot, heat 1 1/2 TBL olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, squash and celery. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Pour in the stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and add in the kale and beans. Cover and cook about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, season with salt, pepper and Tabasco, to taste. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over individual servings (this brings out the flavor of the oil) and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Allow diners to add more Tabasco, if desired.

August 24, 2011

In the Kitchen with Sigonas featuring Melons

In the Kitchen with Sigonas featuring Melons

For the rest of this summer, we’ll be spoiled for choice of some unbelievably sweet, juicy and refreshing fruit. They are so versatile they can play a role in any part of the meal from breakfast, to salad, soup, dinner and dessert. Melons are the perfect antidote for high temperatures, as they keep the body hydrated, and these low glycemic melon recipes are a great way to remain cool as they require almost no work at all. They are easy, fast, and don’t require any time by the stove.

Melone con Prosciutto, Aceto Balsamico e Menta

Translated, Melone con Aceto Balsamico e Menta means Melon with Prosciutto, Balsamic Vinegar and Mint – it’s a traditional Sicilian treat, and to give it a little more substance and flair, we’ve added prosciutto, making this a satisfying and unique appetizer as part of a cured meat and antipasta platter or as a first course.


  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Traditional 12-year aged Balsamic
  • 2 TBL minced fresh mint leaves + 2 whole mint sprigs, for garnish
  • 12 bite-sized cubes or balls of melon of seeded and peeled melons, your choice (we recommend 2 different varieties for flavor & color, such as an orange flesh or a Crenshaw)
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half, lengthwise
  • 6-12 slices pieces of fresh Cantare mozzarella (such as the Ciliegine)

Directions: In a small bowl stir together the balsamic, minced mint and sugar or agave, dissolving the sugar as best as possible. Let the mix sit for 25 minutes.

Arrange the melon, prosciutto and mozzarella on a serving platter, either in rows or in a big circle, alternating ingredients. OR skewer them together and plate. Drizzle with the balsamic mix and garnish with mint sprigs. Serves ~6.

Sweet Melon Soup

This soup is served chilled. It is easy to throw together and makes for a light elegant appetizer. You can also serve it with a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich for lunch. Adapted from Real Simple Magazine.


  • 1 Cantaloupe-like melon (such as a Tuscan or a Charentais melon)
  • 1 Sharlyn melon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Small pinch salt
  • A few sprigs fresh mint leaves

Directions: Halve and seed the melons. Scoop out the flesh and puree it in a blender with the salt and ginger. Puree until smooth. Top with fresh mint leaves.

Melon with Port

Another classical combination dating as far back as the Renaissance. This can be served either as an appetizer or as dessert.


  • Charentais or other orange flesh melon, halved and seeded
  • Port

Directions: Fill the seed cavity with port, let macerate for 20 minutes or more. Scoop right from the melon to eat or reserve the port, halve or quarter the melon half and plate. Then drizzle a bit of the reserved port on each slice and serve.

Shrimp, Melon and Wild Arugula Salad with a Simple Lemon & Oil Dressing

The peppery arugula pairs well with the sweet melon and delicate shrimp. Wild arugula packs even more of a punch, so use what your taste buds desire. If you can’t find wild, regular or baby will be just as good. Recipe adapted from How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons. Serves 6.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 TBL sherry vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced shallots
  • 1 lb. shell-on medium shrimp
  • 1/2 a (5 lb.) medium orange flesh honey dew or Tuscan melon
  • 1/4 lb. wild arugula (see note)
  • 2 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil

Directions: In a saucepan over high heat, bring the water, wine, vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes and shallots to a light boil. When boiling, add the shrimp. As soon as it begins to boil again, cover it tightly and turn off the heat. When the pan is cool enough, put it in the fridge.

When you’re ready to serve the salad, peel the shrimp, reserving the cooking liquid. Halve the melon, remove the seeds and slice half the melon so it’s easily diced into 1-inch cubes. (Save the rest for breakfast!)

Strain the shrimp cooking liquid. Place 2 TBL of it in a small, lidded jar and discard the rest. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and shake well to make a smooth, thick dressing. Taste for salt & lemon juice.

Put the melon in a bowl and add enough dressing to coat lightly (1 to 2 TBL). Toss gently, remove and arrange a single layer on a serving platter. Add the arugula to the bowl and add enough dressing to coat lightly (1 to 2 TBL). Toss and arrange on top of the melon. Repeat with the shrimp and arrange on top of the arugula. Serve immediately.

Summer Melon Ice Parfait with Berries and White Port

Russ Parsons of How to Pick a Peach says a Muscat-based wine, such as Moscato, works well here as the white port for this parfait. Serves 6. Prep and freeze time: 3 hours. Total time: about 3 hrs., 30 mins.


  • 1 medium (4-5 lb.) melon, such as a Sharlyn or Crenshaw
  • 3-4 TBL sugar or 2 TBL Agave nectar
  • 1 pint blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries or raspberries, your choice
  • 2 TBL white port

Directions: Cut melon in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out chunks of the flesh and place in a food processor. You’ll get about 1 ½ lbs of melon chunks.

Puree the melon and stir in 2 TBL sugar (or 1 TBL agave). Taste and add more if needed, but note that too much sugar will mask the melon’s delicate, floral flavor, however, because chilling reduces the flavor, the mixture should be very sweet.

Pour puree into a large, shallow metal pan that will hold a depth of 3/4 to 1 inch. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove pan from freezer and stir puree with a fork, breaking up large chunks of ice. Repeat 4-5 times over 2-3 hours. Each time the ice will be a little less liquid and will stick together more. When firm enough to hold its shape, it is done.

Try not to let the melon ice freeze solid. If it does, chop it into small pieces in the pan and grind it in the food processor. However, the result will be lighter and fluffier, and the flavor will not be as dense and luscious.

Stir together the berries, 1 TBL sugar (1/2 TBL agave) and the port. Spoon the ice into six glasses (martini glasses or short wine glasses) and spoon some of the berries with their juice over the top. Serve.


Balsamic-drizzled Heirloom Melon

Serve this up any way you like…sliced, cubed or even scooped into melon balls. If you want to get the kids involved, ask them to scoop out the seeds.


  • 1 Crane melon or other orange flesh melon
  • ½ c. mint leaves, slivered
  • 1 ½ TBL Balsamic (e.g. Sigona’s Vanilla Bean Balsamic)

Directions: Halve melon, remove seeds. Slice, dice or scoop into pieces as desired and place in 4+ bowls. Sprinkle each dish with mint. Stir to mix. Drizzle 1-2 tsp. balsamic on top.

Cured Sea Trout and Crab Salad with Artichokes, Haogen Melon, Preserved Lemon and Pea Sprouts

Feeling ambitions? Give this recipe a try, from the UK’s Yorkshire Post. The author notes that the Haogen (a.k.a. Ogen) is used for its slightly spicy notes and rounded melon flavors, which go well with all kinds of seafood, especially crab.

This recipe, by Frances Atkins of the Michelin Starred restaurant The Yorke Arms, for cured sea trout, crab, melon, artichoke, preserved lemon and pea sprouts. Here’s a delicious recipe which once assembled offers a superb combination of textures and flavors.

You can find pre-cured trout in some specialty seafood shops. If not, prepare your own using the recipe below:

Cured sea trout, as cooked by Frances Atkins from the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. Photo and recipe via the Yorkshire Post.

Ingredients for the cured sea trout:

  • 1 fillet sea trout
  • 35g (2 1/4 TBL) salt
  • 20g (1 1/4 TBL) sugar
  • ½ shallot finely chopped
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 20g (1 1/4 TBL) dill
  • 1 crushed juniper berry
  • 4 crushed white pepper corns

Ingredients for the topping mixture:

  • Desert spoon (2 tsp) of English mustard
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • TBL of chopped dill

Method: Pin, bone and score fish. Mix the cured sea trout ingredients together and rub into the fish. Wrap tightly in cling film and press. Leave overnight, turn the next day and on day three, rinse off lightly. Dry the fish well and spread topping mixture thinly over flesh side and pack on the chopped dill. Wrap in cling film until ready to slice.

For the crab:

Take 200g (7 oz) per portion of cooked white crab meat and mix with mayonnaise, chopped chives, grated nutmeg, lemon zest to taste.

For the Artichoke and Melon:

Take 1 cooked globe artichoke. Slice and put into vinaigrette (recipe below). Take an Ogen Melon or one of your choice, cut into large dice.

For the preserved lemon and pea sprout:

Take one lemon, boil in salted water until soft (approx 10 minutes). Cool, cut into quarters, dispense with the flesh and pith. Sprinkle a little sugar and salt, semi-dry. Cut into thin strips. Mix with a handful of pea sprouts (the curly tops of pea plants).

Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • 100ml (about 7 TBL) olive oil
  • 50ml (about 3 1/2 TBL) white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey (try our Wild Sage Honey from Honey Hole Honey Company)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • A little sugar

Mix together

Salad Assembly: To assemble the salad you will need a small carton (50g or 3 1/2 TBL) of crème fraîche and a jar of mini capers. Place the thinly sliced sea trout on the base of the plate.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl with vinaigrette dressing and build. Finish with crème fraîche and capers for garnish.

For a the original recipe and a large picture of the dish, click here.

July 27, 2011

Oh, Beans! Local beans are now in season

Oh, Beans!

It's bean season! Yellow Wax, Cranberry, Italian and Blue Lake Beans from local farmers.

Fresh-picked Cranberry, Yellow Wax, Blue Lake and Italian beans are all coming to us from local farmers – try them today!

You know you’re lucky to live in California, and especially the San Francisco Bay Area, right? It’s one thing to know it, but it’s another to take advantage of what we’ve been blessed with in our surrounding area.

Almost any vegetable you can think of, California can grow it. The best part? You get to eat it when it’s fresh. And if you buy something at Sigona’s that’s marked as locally grown (meaning it comes from within a 150 mile radius), it’s likely it was picked and delivered to our stores in less than 24 hours.

Fresh-picked produce is in a class of its own. You can’t beat the snap of a fresh bean, the sweetness of an ear of corn or still field-warm strawberry. Do you know how to check the freshness of a bean on the spot? Try putting a bean in the palm of your hand and snap one end with your thumb; if it bends to more than a 90 degree angle without snapping, it’s past its prime.

Fresh beans will convert almost anyone to a bean fan. If you’re used to only canned green beans, and especially if you do not care for them, we hope you take advantage of the local bean season and give them a whirl. Fresh beans taste nothing like canned. The fresher they are, the sweeter and crisp they’ll be. (More produce tips for beans.)

We’re getting a variety of different beans in from local farmers, including Blue Lake beans (green beans) from Watsonville, Brentwood and Morgan Hill, and we have Italian beans, Yellow Wax beans and Cranberry beans from Brentwood.

While you can eat the pods (well, all but the tough stem end) of the Blue Lakes, Yellow Wax and Italian beans, Cranberry beans must be shelled before they’re edible. It does take time to remove the stem ends or free the beans from the shell of the Cranberry beans, but don’t let that deter usage. You can even employ the family to help while they’re watching TV or out enjoying a warm summer evening. Once you get going, it doesn’t take that long at all!

Beans are a fantastic source of fiber and are a hearty ingredient to use in vegetarian dishes as they’re also a great protein. Most beans are low in calories and fat, too, so you can’t beat that! Shelling beans contain just 100 calories per 1/2 cup serving, and provide 20 percent of your daily fiber requirement. They pack 7 grams of protein and just 1 gram of sugar. Yellow Wax beans also contain good amount of vitamin C, iron and folate, which is good for soon-to-be mommas and their developing babies.

Italian Beans: Italian beans are one of my favorites. This all-edible bean is flat, fat and, when cooked just right, has a creamy, velvety texture that’s to die for. I’m a firm believer in simply blanching veggies before they’re used in dishes, but with the Italian beans you’ll want to cook them longer to get that velvety, creamy texture you don’t get with other long, skinny beans, such as Blue Lakes or Yellow Wax. Make sure to check out the recipe for Sautéed Italian Beans with Creamer Potatoes and Pearl Onions.

Blue Lake Beans: These are your typical green beans. Though this bean is the quintessential canning bean, you really can’t beat them when they’re fresh. Fresh Blue Lakes are tender, sweet and flavorful. The variety is long, straight and bright green with a thick pod surrounding small beans. The whole bean, pod and all, is edible, though you’ll want to snap or snip off the stem end before cooking. I like them best when blanched and added to a bean salad or sautéed with a little onion and bell pepper. Rachael Ray also makes a fantastic and flavorful dish called Chicken Salad Piccata made with fresh beans. Check it out!

Yellow Wax Beans: This variety of bean looks and cooks just like a green Blue Lake bean. They’re long and skinny and their light yellow color adds a bright pop to dishes. The waxy-textured pod surrounding the small beans inside is all edible, and they have a more subtle flavor than the common green bean. While Yellow Wax beans can be substituted for green beans in most recipes, they’re usually used alongside green beans to add a new color to dishes, such as the ever-popular four-bean salad.

Cranberry Beans: Have you ever seen such a pretty bean? Cranberry beans are shell beans, like lima beans, fava beans or pinto beans, and must be removed from their shells before they’re used. This naturally red & beige swirl-colored bean has a rich, nutty flavor that lends itself nicely to a ragout, pasta dishes and soups, such as this Summertime Minestrone with Cranberry Beans. While they turn a tannish-gray color when cooked, they add great, hearty texture and hold their shape. You can find them dried, too, but we recommend fresh when they’re in season.

Look for other fresh bean varieties at our stores – they’re in season now. Let us know what dishes you make for which you seek out fresh beans. We’d love to share your recipes! Send them to share@sigonas.com.

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring fresh, local beans

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring fresh, local beans

Fresh beans will convert almost anyone to a bean fan. If you’re used to only canned green beans, and especially if you do not care for them, we hope you take advantage of the local bean season and give them a whirl. Fresh beans taste nothing like canned. The fresher they are, the sweeter and crisp they’ll be.

 Stir-fry Beans

A woman at one of my favorite Asian restaurants gave me the secret to stir-fries: always par-boil the vegetables first and to help them absorb the flavors, use a high heat to sauté. This helps the sauces absorb. I love fresh beans best when left unadulterated, so just a little bean sauce in this stir-fry is all you need. This bean stir-fry goes great with chicken or fish or anything! Serves 4 as a side or topping.


  • 1 lb. Blue Lake, stem end trimmed and discarded, then cut on the diagonal into 2” pieces
  • 2 TBL  Fermented Black Bean Sauce
  • 1/2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath. When completely cool, drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in bean sauce and then add in the drained, cooled beans. Work the mixture until beans are heated through and well coated with the black bean sauce. Season with salt & pepper, remove from heat and serve.

Yellow Beans, English Peas, Radish and Dill Salad

Yellow Beans, English Peas, Radish and Dill Salad

Let your creative juices flow with this salad from Eating Club Vancouver. Use their step-by-step pictures and suggestions for creating a dish that’s all your own.

Doesn’t it look delicious and fresh!

Click here for the pictures and ingredients!

Green Beans for Baby

Making food at home for baby is simpler than you think. It’s healthier, too, since you have control over what you put in the food and into baby’s mouth. All you need for this simple puree is beans and water.


  • 1 lb. fresh Blue Lake Beans, washed and ends removed
  • Water for boiling
  • Plus ½ cup water for blending

Place green beans in steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Steam beans for 7-8 minutes or until tender. Remove cooked beans from steamer and put in food processor. Blend, adding water a bit at a time, until mix is completely smooth.

Once cooled, distribute mixture into baby food containers and place in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it.

Roasted Italian Beans

Roasted Italian Beans, recipe adapted from Cookography.

While I am a firm believer in simply blanching vegetables before they’re cooked, Italian beans are an exception. The longer they cook, the more creamy and velvety they become. I simply love Italian beans! Recipe adapted from Cookography.com.


  • 1 pound Italian beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Set oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, toss the beans, garlic and salt with the olive oil.
  3. Spread the beans onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Make sure they are evenly distributed in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until the beans are tender and browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sautéed Italian Beans with Creamer Potatoes and Pearl Onions

Again, I like to cook Italian beans longer than a par-boil because this is such a creamy bean. This hearty side goes well with grilled tri-tip or a ribeye. Serves 4.


  • 1 lb. Italian beans, stem end trimmed and discarded, cut into 1.5” pieces
  • 1/2 lb. creamer potatoes, halved, quartered
  • 10 pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 TBL Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil
  • 1/2 TBL Butter
  • Salt & Pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook about 5-7 minutes, or until very, very tender.  Scoop out beans, leaving the water behind, and set aside. No ice bath needed.

Add potatoes and onions to the boiling water to cook until potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Add in the cooked potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes, and then add in the beans. Cook about 3-5 minutes until dish is heated through. Season with salt and pepper, serve.

Chicken Salad Piccata

This recipe from Rachael Ray is satisfying as an entree or a side. It’s also great when cold, so you can take the leftovers for lunch the next day.


  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 pound green beans, halved crosswise
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped capers (drained)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, lightly pounded
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Click here for the recipe.

Four-Bean Salad

This summer cookout classic really comes alive with so many fresh ingredients. Adapted from a Home On The Range recipe printed in the Daily Herald-Tribune.

  • 1 (14 oz) can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lb. fresh yellow wax beans, ends removed and cut into 2” pieces
  • 1/2 lb. fresh blue lake beans, ends removed and cut into 2” pieces
  • 1/2 lb. fresh Italian beans
  • 1 large bell pepper, any color, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (can substitute 2-3 TBL honey, or to taste, if desired)
  • 1/3 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge blue lake beans into the boiling water and cook until bright green and tender (three to four minutes). Scoop out the beans using a slotted spoon or skimmer. Immediately cool the beans in an ice bath or under cool running after to stop the cooking process. Repeat with the Italian beans and then with the Yellow Wax beans. Drain from the ice bath once all are cooled.

In a large bowl combine the cooled beans, kidney beans, bell pepper and onion.

In a medium bowl, combine half a cup each of white vinegar, sugar/honey, oil and celery seed. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Pour over the beans and mix well, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, stirring once in a while. Keeps in the fridge for about 4 days.


Fresh Beans with Bell Pepper and Shallots

You can use Blue Lake Beans or Yellow Wax beans for this dish. Yellow Wax beans and with orange bell peppers makes a beautiful color contrast. Serves about 6.


  • 1 lb. fresh beans, Yellow Wax or Blue Lake Beans, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup diced bell pepper, any color (can use roasted bell peppers if desired, for a smoky flavor)
  • Half of one shallot, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the beans to par boil/blanch for about 4-5 minutes.

Remove beans from boiling water and dunk them in an ice bath to cool immediately.

Drain from ice bath when completely cooled, set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add smashed garlic clove and heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Remove the garlic and add in the bell peppers and shallots. Work the peppers and shallots in the pan for about 3 minutes. Add in the beans and cook until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, serve.

Summertime Minestrone with Cranberry Beans

Cranberry Beans

Linda, a Sigona’s Preferred Customer, made this recipe after Carmelo helped her find a key ingredient in our store: cranberry beans! Linda did some research and discovered cranberry beans are the equivalent to Borlotti in Italy. Shell beans take little time to cook and add a great texture to any soup or stew. They thicken dishes in 20 minutes and add a great amount of protein as compared to dried or canned beans.


  • 1 lb fresh cranberry beans, (shelled about 2 cups)
  • 3 tbsp Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 TBL fresh)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the onion, carrot and pancetta. Cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add the shelled beans, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add chard and pepper with a good pinch of salt, cover again and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until beans are done (squeeze to test). Turn off heat and add basil; let soup sit for 5-10 minutes. Salt to taste, ladle into bowls.

A nice touch is to drizzle with a very good olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Pasta Fagioli with Cranberry Beans

This simple peasant dish uses minimal ingredients, but is certainly a traditional comfort food amongst Italians and Sicilians alike. Serves 4.


  • 1 pkg. fresh pasta
  • 1/2 lb. Cranberry beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, or to taste, chopped
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Italian
  • Salt & Pepper

Remove cranberry beans from their pods. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add beans, cook about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add in drained beans and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Pour in about a 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and bring to a low boil to let the water reduce a bit. It will thicken.

Stir in the cooked pasta, add more reserved pasta water if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat, stir in cheese and serve.

June 29, 2011

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Pastured Eggs

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Pastured Eggs

Nutrition science tells us that darker colored foods, such as blueberries or kale, will have more nutrients. Kale vs iceberg lettuce…factory-raised egg yolks vs. pastured…the brilliant and dark colors of these foods just infer more nutrients. “The pastured egg yolks have a more “high vibe” than others and their richness is incomparable,” said Laura Stec, executive chef for Pescadero Foods, which brings us Wattle & Comb pastured eggs.

Boiled Eggs

The difference is obvious in a pastured vs. regular store-bought egg. Pastured (top) has a darker, more nutrient-rich yolk.

What may seem as common sense to some, can be intimidating to others. How do you get a perfectly boiled egg? What if you want a soft boil instead of hard? Here are a few tips from Food Network Magazine.

“A hard-boiled pastured egg is creamy…it’s just an amazing creamy experience. When cracked, the yolk stands up and it’s poufy; others lay flat. You’ll be surprised by the richness if you do a taste comparison, and you’ll never want for another egg,” said Laura Stec, executive chef for Pescadero Foods, which brings us Wattle & Comb pastured eggs.

  • Soft-Boiled Eggs: Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add eggs and cook 4-5 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
  • Medium-Boiled Eggs: Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs: Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from heat and set aside 8-10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.


Flavor packed, creamy, comforting…who doesn’t love a good carbonara? If you’re watching your waistline, this may not be for you, but if you’re looking to splurge on a hearty and fabulously satisfying Italian dish, this is what you should make.


  • 1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti or rigatoni
  • 1/4 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 oz. pound pancetta (or 6 slices of bacon), chopped
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 eggs
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta. Brown pancetta, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping the bottom of the pan.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then add a 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water (this helps temper the eggs to keep them from scrambling when added to the pasta).

Add the drained pasta skillet and toss to coat. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss rapidly to coat the pasta without cooking the egg. Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese, a generous amount of pepper and a bit salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and extra grated cheese.

Sunny-side-up Sandwiches Topped with Creamy Ricotta & Arugula

This easy dish is great for brunch or for BFD…breakfast for dinner. Adapted from Cooking Light.


  • 4 slices bread (try whole wheat or pumpernickel)
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Juice of half a medium lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 4 (pastured) eggs
  • 3/4 cup Ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions: Brush both sides of the bread with butter, olive oil or cooking spray. Toast under the broiler or in a toaster, if you wish, until both sides are lightly browned, about 2 mins a side.

In a small bowl, combine arugula, 2 tsp. olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper and stir to mix.

In a large skilled, heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Crack eggs into the pan and cook about 2 mins. Cover with a lid or foil and cook until the whites are set, about 2 mins more. Remove from heat. Do not flip egg.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano and thyme. Season with salt and stir to combine. Spread mix over one side of the toasted bread. Add a layer of the arugula mix to each slice and carefully top with an egg. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.

Spicy Chard Soup with Hard Boiled Eggs

Chard is so good right now, I’m having it 3-4 times a week. It really does make a great accompaniment to eggs, which makes this soup fantastic. If you have extra chard, chard and eggs also make for a great breakfast scramble with toast, too. Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine.


  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 TBL tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. (or more) red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 hard boiled (pastured) eggs, peeled & quartered
  • 2 cups pica chips, coarsely crushed (We carry Stacy’s pita chips, which are great)

Directions: Cut the chard stems into ½ inch pieces and the leaves into 1 inch pieces; keep separate. Toast the caraway and cumin seeds in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 mins. Cool, then grind in a spice grinder, a cleaned out coffee bean grinder, or transfer to a resealable plastic bag and crush with a heavy skillet.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chard stems and onion and cook until softened, about 5-6 mins. Clear a space in the pan, then add in the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, garlic and ground spices. Cook 2 minutes, then stir into the vegetables. Add the chard leaves, chicken broth and 1 cup water, bring to a rapid simmer and cook until chard is tender, about 10 minutes. Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 the lemon and season with salt.

Mix yogurt, juice from other lemon half and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Divide the soup among soup bowls. Add in the eggs, pita chips and a dollop of the yogurt mix. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Chard and Saffron Omelettes

Chard is so fantastic right now, I’m eating it about 3-4 times a week. Chard and eggs to beautifully together for breakfast dishes, and omelettes are simple, healthy and delicious. Serves 4. Adapted from Plenty.


  • ½ lb. (1 med) Yukon Gold potato, cut and diced (1/2 inch)
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 3/4 lb. Swiss chard (stalks and leaves) shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 TBL fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2  cup crème fraiche, cold

Directions: put potatoes, water and saffron in a large pan, bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes, then add chard, salt & pepper. Continue cooking, covered, for 10-15 mins, or until potato is soft. Drain out any excess liquid. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and garlic. Leave to cool.

Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt & pepper. Pour 1 tsp. oil into a hot 9-inch nonstick frying pan, then use 1/4 egg mixture to make a thin round omelette. Transfer to paper towels. Make three more omelettes. Leave to cool down.

Divide cold crème fraiche among the omelettes, spreading it over one half of each. Adjust seasoning, if needed, in chard mixture, then spread generously over the crème fraiche. Fold each omelette over in half, then fold again to get a fan shape. Arrange on a serving dish and serve.

**If serving later, place in the fridge. Reheat in an ovenproof dish at 325F for 5-8 mins. Serve hot.

April 6, 2011

This Soup’s For You

Filed under: Feature Articles, Local Vendors — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 9:25 am

This Soup’s For You

New local vendor Nona Lim of Cook! created wholesome, delicious and gourmet vegan, gluten- and dairy-free soups now available at Sigona’s.

By Carmelo Sigona

Nona Lim is the founder of Cook!

We have a new product in the store this week: gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free soups made by local vendor Nona Lim, a former world-traveling business executive who founded Cook!, a business she started soon after her career took her to San Francisco. Cook! is a food delivery service for people who want to eat fresh & healthy meals, but find themselves too busy to do so. Cook! is dedicated to providing wholesome, delicious gourmet meal components using only from-scratch ingredients.

In addition to Nona’s delivery service, she operates a product line called Real, Simple, Delicious under which they make gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free soups for retail sales. To introduce you to the Cook! soups, we’re giving you a 12 oz. pouch of these fantastic soups  — either Thai green curry or all-bean chili – on us. All you have to do is bring your coupon and when you spend $30 or more we’ll give it to you for free.


A Little Background

Cook! came to be shortly after Nona’s arrival in San Francisco where she noticed that the extremely easy access to fresh food was being overlooked by the busy movers and shakers who work long hours. She also noticed the lack of ready-to-eat good and gourmet options.

“I started Cook! to create gourmet, healthy meal kits providing from-scratch, ready-to-cook ingredients where everything is measured and prepared for cooking,” said Nona. “In the beginning I did everything; I developed the recipes, was the chef, delivery driver, chopper & dicer. I did it as a two-year experiment to see if it would work. Well, it did and now I have a chef and a kitchen crew, but I’m still involved in recipe development.

“I’m proud of the fact that we make everything from scratch – even the vegetable stock,” continued Nona. “We include organic ingredients when possible, but I believe it’s also important to know the source of clean, whole foods we work with, knowing their quality and that the growing process didn’t disrupt the ecosystem.”


Nona's soups come in a 12 oz. pouch and are ready to eat.

This Soup’s For You

As for the line of Real, Simple, Delicious gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free soups, Nona did her research. She knew that it’s one thing to eat whole, fresh and organic foods, but if you have a gluten or other allergen sensitivity, like she does, then you may still have low energy, don’t feel well, have trouble losing weight or continue to suffer from a subtle or major reaction caused by the foods you eat.

Having learned about food sensitivities, Nona introduced a detox meal service to Cook! based on research and a book by Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the leading doctors in functional medicine. The detox program helped people with the transition from their normal meals to an allergen-free diet, whether they were curious about eating differently or if they were doing it for health reasons. Allergens can include anything from gluten or dairy to soy, corn, yeast, seafood and beyond.

“We introduced gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free soups to the post-detox delivery menu and they quickly became the most popular item,” said Nona. “I realized we had an opportunity with the soups because that is one meal ingredient item that comes completely prepared for you, so I decided about six months ago to see if they’d sell in retail locations, and so far they’re very successful.”

As you may know, I am gluten intolerant and am also sensitive to certain preservatives, so I’m loving these soups! For me, it’s comforting to know I can grab one of these soups from the shelf for lunch when I haven’t had time to bring my own. It’s hard for someone who suffers from various allergies to find something as simple as soup that is free of allergens, but everything in Nona’s soup is made from scratch in the Cook! kitchen in Oakland. They make their own stock and guarantee they are free of thickeners. The soups are naturally thick and rich because of the pureed vegetables, and some varieties use coconut or rice milk.

More Than a Soup Meal

The Real, Simple, Delicious carrot ginger soup is a hit with kids.

My personal favorite is the Thai green curry, one of the two varieties we’re giving you for free this week (April 6-12, 2011). I’ve just made this, thinned it out a little, and put it over a brown Jasmine rice…delicious. All the soups can be used for more than just a soup meal. If you want to add a little more protein to the mix, Nona suggests sautéing a diced chicken breast and stirring it into the curry. That, with a side of rice, makes a complete dinner for two with just one pouch of soup.

We’re also offering you this week the all-bean chili. I’ve had this over a salad with a spicy salsa topping, and I’ve also had it with some chipped beef and a morphed chimmy churry sauce, minus the garlic. It’s also great as an appetizer paired with tortilla chips. Cheese lovers can sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top of the soup, too. Nona also suggests using the chili to top a baked sweet potato or, if you’re in need of some serious comfort food, make yourself some chili cheese fries. The possibilities are endless.

In addition to the Thai green curry and the all-bean chili, we’re also carrying ginger carrot soup, which is a hit among kiddos. Look for them for sale in our store in the refrigerated section.

“These soups are made just as if you were making your own from scratch at home,” said Nona. “We call them Real, Simple, Delicious for a reason. ‘Real’ because they’re made with only real ingredients; ‘simple’ because you can pronounce every single ingredient and you just warm the soup and it’s ready to eat; ‘delicious’ because it is a healthy-for-you-soup that actually tastes good. They’re also low in sodium to give you the option of seasoning the soup to your liking if necessary.”

We know you’ll love these new soups – whether or not you have any food sensitivities. They’re simply delicious, wholesome soups you can feel good about eating and serving to your family. Plus, all you have to do is heat them up! Don’t forget to get your free pouch this week, April 6-12, 2011, with your coupon when you spend $30 or more.

February 25, 2011

Reader Recipes: Meyer Lemons

Filed under: RECIPES — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 12:16 pm

Reader Recipes: Meyer Lemons

As a result of our posts on Meyer lemons, a few of our readers have sent in tried and true Meyer lemon recipes. Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Velvet

This recipe for Meyer lemon ice cream comes to us from long time customer Berni Jahnke who says it comes out like more of a sherbert. This old time favorite recipe was their grandmother’s and it’s been passed down through the generations. “It’s an old time favorite that used to be made with snow…no ice in those days except in huge blocks…for the hand churner.).” – Berni Jahnke

To begin, you need:

  • 3 pints milk
  • 3 cups of sugar

After it begins to freeze, add:

  • Juice of 3 Meyer lemons
  • Grated rind of 2 Meyer lemons

Then: churn until it looks good enough to eat!

Kabocha Gazpacho With Crab

Kabocha Gazpacho with Crab & Meyer Lemon. Photo from Luisa Ormonde.

Recipe courtesy of our friend Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos. Luisa says, “Kabocha is a wonderful vegetable with a lot of character. Its flavors are similar to pumpkin though lighter in body. The original recipe called for yuzu (Japanese lemon) but I used the more readily available Meyer lemon.”


  • 1 lb Kabocha pumpkin
  • 1/2 Maui sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • granulated sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. mirin (a sweet cooking rice wine)
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to season
  • 1/4 pound freshly shelled Dungeness crab
  • fresh Meyer lemon juice, to taste
  • fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

How to make it: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and rub exposed flesh with olive oil, season with kosher salt. Place cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for around 45 minutes, or until soft. Once cool, scoop flesh into bowl and set aside.

Heat skillet to medium heat and add butter. Add onion and squash, and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add chicken stock and water. Place squash and onion into a food mill (or use hand immersion blender straight in pot) and puree the mixture. Add the puree back to a bowl and add in the sugar and mirin, allow to cool a little, then add the half and half. Let the entire mixture chill in the fridge until thoroughly cool. Before serving, add Meyer lemon juice to taste. Serve in cordial glasses (or small shallow bowls) and pile some crab in the middle of the soup mixture, drizzling a little Meyer lemon juice on top. Garnish with parsley.

October 20, 2010

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms

Filed under: Produce Tips, RECIPES — Tags: , , — Sigona's @ 9:09 am

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelle mushrooms are the most popular and best selling wild mushroom we carry, and at $8.95/lb. (Reg. $19.99/lb.), they’re a steal! Prices will be up in a week or two, so get them while you can.

Produce Tips:

  • Wild Chanterelles at $8.95/lb. won't last long (valid Oct. 20-26, 2010)...the price will go up soon, so get 'em at this price while you can!

    Select mushrooms that are dry and fairly clean. Some Chanterelles can get quite wet while they grow, but you’ll lose all that moisture when you cook them. The first Chanterelles of the season are usually dry – a special bonus – so they let off less liquid (they have less water content) when cooked, making for a firmer texture and richer Chanterelle taste.

  • Fresh Chanterelles should be bright and have a just-picked appearance. Older mushrooms get dark around the edges.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Chanterelles are great sautéed and added to pastas, rice or egg omelets, and they’re also perfect as a side to meat, fish or poultry.
  • Use a pastry brush to brush off any soil. You may also use a sponge that’s slightly wet, however you don’t want to get them too wet. If you do get Chanterelles that have been out in the rain, you can put them in the oven at 250F to slightly dry them out before they’re used for sautés.
  • When sautéing, my Uncle Carmelo suggests using butter…it really adds to the flavor. He usually sautés Chanterelles alone or with a few sliced shallots…you don’t want to overpower the Chanterelle flavor.
  • Quick Chanterelle Pasta Topping: After Chanterelles are sautéed and done, remove from skillet and set aside. To the skillet, add sherry or other fruity wine, and reduce by half. Reintroduce the Chanterelles and add a touch of cream for a great pasta topping.
  • Try this recipe for Pumpkin and Chanterelle soup from our friend Luisa Ormonde of Lusia’s Catering!

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables – some of you won’t find anywhere else.

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