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This Wednesday I was honored to be asked to cater dinner for a workshop being held at Paicines Ranch. The workshop was about restoring health to agricultural ecosystems. 

The topics being covered over this three-day workshop —Principals and Practices from Soil to Communities—include the following: 

  • Day 1: Physical, mineral and biological nature of soils; soil carbon dynamics; creating soil fertility 
  • Day 2: Water quality and quantity; plant health to human health; restorative agriculture 
  • Day 3: Cover crops: why grass-fed diets benefit human health; reversing greenhouse gases with sound grazing practices

I wish I had had the chance to listen in on these fascinating subjects, but I was busy planning and creating the menu for all of those involved.

While I was planning the menu, I decided to make as much use of all that San Benito County has to offer us as possible. Thyme Catering prides itself on the ability to use locally sourced produce and the freshest ingredients; the less driving I have to do to purchase these ingredients for my menus, the better for the environment. This is just one small way in which the use of locally sourced produce is more environmentally friendly.

I have to give a huge shout-out to the following local businesses who supplied or donated their produce: 

The menu for this evening is available on our Facebook page. Everything, with exception of the quinoa, can be sourced here in San Benito County. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of all that our bountiful county produces?

White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side


  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, remove ribs and chop finely, cut leaves crosswise into 2 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
  • One 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or if using dried beans make sure to soak them overnight)
  • Salt (to taste)


  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 8 minutes. Drain the greens and gently press out excess water.
  • In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic, finely chopped chard ribs and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden and the ribs have softened, about 4 minutes . Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes for canned and about 30 minutes for freshly soaked beans. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until the flavors meld, 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and serve.