Get the Most Out of Early Season Vegetables with Beef & Pork You Can Love!

The heat and humidity have started. It is summer.

Though summer has started, a month or two is needed yet to reap the full bounty of Iowa gardens, CSA’s, and farmers markets.

Early summer vegetables center around fast growing and cold hardy plants such as leafy greens, radishes, and peas. These plants can be put into the ground early and have quick growth cycles to have them ready for your plate in May and June.

While there is not as much variety as later in the summer, early summer vegetables can still feature in a lot of great meals. Especially when you pair these vegetables with our beef and pork.

Here are 5 ways you can use early summer vegetables with our beef and pork to put meals on the table that your family will love

Taco Salad

Salad greens are at their best when the weather is still a little cool. The hot weather later in the summer can make greens turn bitter.

So enjoy these salads while they are at their peak. A great way to get a full meal out of a salad is to make it a taco salad.

Brown up a pound of our ground beef with some taco seasoning and load up a salad with your favorite toppings for a quick, simple, and delicious meal!

Learn how to get the most flavor out of your ground beef here


  • Toppings (Pick your favorites)

Italian Sausage and Dark Greens Pasta

Dark greens such as kale and collard greens are another feature of early summer. Their thicker, more dense structure lends them to being wilted down to add their flavor to a meal.

The earthy and bitter flavors of these greens pair well with our Italian Sausage. In the recipe below, we include mushrooms to further round out the textures and flavors of this dish, but you can just go with the sausage and greens if you don’t have mushrooms available.


  1. Cook pasta per directions on box. Or alternatively, place pasta in pot, cover with water to 1 inch above pasta, salt generously, cover and place on high burner on stove.
  2. Chop mushrooms into bite size pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter over medium high in a large skillet. Add mushrooms with a pinch of salt and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes
  3. Move mushrooms to side of the skillet and add Italian Sausage. Spread out the sausage and brown. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
  4. Break up the sausage and brown until cooked through. Chop the kale or collard greens into 1 inch ribbons. Add to skillet.
  5. Mix and combine mushrooms, sausage, and greens. Continue stirring until greens are wilted (1 to 2 minutes) and then turn off burner.
  6. Once pasta is cooked to desired firmness, remove from heat. Ladle out a half cup of pasta water into skillet with the sausage and greens and then drain pasta.
  7. Return skillet to a medium burner. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the pasta water. Then add pasta into the pan. Stir and combine until pasta, sausage, mushrooms, and greens are mixed and the pasta water has reduced into a sauce coating the pasta.
  8. Remove from heat and serve with grated parmesan on top

Chorizo Burritos

Vegetables are great, but sometimes their best role is as accents in a dish. This recipe uses cilantro to help flavor the rice and quick pickled radishes to lend some contrasting freshness and acidity to the rich and flavorful chorizo.

And if you need more vegetables in your life, you can always pair a salad with these burritos.


  1. Place 1 cup rice in mesh strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Place rice, 2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in pot on medium high burner. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook until water is gone and rice has reached desired firmness.

Note: If you plan to make the next recipe, Bacon Fried Rice, you can save yourself some time by cooking 3 cups rice, 6 cups water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Separate off what you need for the burritos and refrigerate the rest.

  1. Starting with a cold skillet, spread out Chorizo in pan and place on medium burner. Starting with a cold pan will help render out some fat as it cooks. Break up and brown the Chorizo until it is cooked through and then remove from heat.
  2. Warm tortillas to make them easier to fold. Remove tortillas from packaging and place in covered pan. Heat on low for 1 to 2 minutes and then shut off burner. Leave tortillas in pan until ready to construct burritos.
  3. When rice is cooked, fluff with fork and set aside to release steam and cool for a couple of minutes. Chop up a handful of cilantro leaves and add to rice with juice of one lime or 1-2 tablespoons lime juice. Stir and mix in cilantro and lime juice into rice.
  4. Construct the burritos by placing rice, chorizo, and pickled radishes in the middle of the tortilla. Fold and roll the tortilla into a burrito as shown below. (Note: This video is from our Shredded Beef Burrito recipe, but the process is the same)

Bacon Fried Rice

Peas are often an afterthought in fried rice. But fresh peas give this recipe a nice pop of brightness against the richness of bacon.


  1. Place 2 cups rice in mesh strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Place rice, 4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt in pot on medium high burner. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook until water is gone and rice has reached desired firmness.
  2. Take out 1/3 to 1/2 of the bacon from the package and cut into 1/2″ long pieces. Place in large skillet and place on medium burner. Stir occasionally and cook until bacon is crispy. Add the peas to the pan for the last minute of cooking.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, make scrambled eggs in a second skillet. Break 4 eggs into a dish, add a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt and whisk until eggs are broken into an even mixture. Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet and heat on medium low. When butter is melted, pour in egg mixture. Allow to cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then gently push the cooked edges into the middle with a spatula. Repeat this process 1 or two more times until eggs are mostly cooked. Then break up eggs into smaller pieces and remove from heat.
  4. When rice is cooked, fluff with fork and set aside to release steam and cool for a couple of minutes.
  5. Return large skillet with bacon and peas to medium high heat. Add rice and stir until bacon, peas, and rice are combined. For some more nutty flavors, you can slow the stirring and allow some of the rice mixture to lightly brown.
  6. Remove from heat, add scrambled eggs and gently mix them into the rice and serve.

This recipe only uses part of the bacon. As far as what to do with the rest of the bacon, not that that is usually a problem, may we suggest our Bacon Cheesy Pasta recipe.

Creamy Ground Beef, Swiss Chard & Potatoes

Swiss Chard is another leafy green suited to wilting down and adds an earthy flavor and subtle sweetness to this dish.


  1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in pot with 2 teaspoons salt and cover with cold water. Cover pot and place on high burner and cook until potatoes are soft.
  2. Place large skillet on medium high burner. Add 2 tablespoons butter. When butter is melted, spread out ground beef in the pan. Brown ground beef until cooked through. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Chop Swiss Chard leaves into 1″ ribbons and stalks into 1/2″ pieces. When ground beef is cooked, add Swiss Chard to skillet along with 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir in Swiss Chard for 1 to 2 minutes until wilted.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to pan. Mix in until flour coats the ground beef and swiss chard mixture.
  5. Slowly add milk, stirring continuously. Add milk in 1/2 cup batches, allowing mixture to bubble and thicken prior to adding more milk. Reduce burner to low once all milk has been added and the mixture has bubbled and thickened.
  6. When potatoes have cooked, drain the water and add potatoes to pan. Gently stir in the potatoes and then serve.

Enjoy the Early Summer Vegetables

We hope these recipes add to your enjoyment of the vegetables from this early part of the summer. If you have any questions or need any other recommendations of ways to utilize our beef and pork, please reach out by email or through Facebook and Instagram.

John and Sarah Gilbert farm with their family in North Central Iowa. They care for pigs, cows, and the land to bring you beef and pork you can love. They have a passion for cooking and helping others develop the skills they need to put healthy and delicious home-cooked meals on the table. They can be contacted by email and through Facebook and Instagram.