Tag Archives: greens

Colcannon: You had me at potatoes.

Somewhere in my patchwork ancestry there lives a little Irish. How much? I don’t really know. Probably a little slice. It’s enough to give me pale, tan-resistant skin, an affinity for the smell of rain, a tiny hint of red in my hair, and an undying love for potatoes. I don’t know very much about the cuisine of Ireland. I am sure it involves more than potatoes. Yes? Maybe one day I’ll visit and find out first-hand. In the meantime, I’ll stick with potatoes. One of the Irish dishes I’ve always enjoyed is colcannon. It’s easy to make, comforting and delicious, as potatoes almost always are.

This version has more greens than your garden-variety colcannon, which added some great texture and flavor (and a few more vitamins!). The thing about greens is they cook down so much you can eat a lot of them and not really notice, especially in a wonderful conglomeration like this. This is the third recipe I’ve made out of my new cookbook, The Book of Greens, and it’s my favorite one yet. Lest you think this book is all about healthy rabbit food and vegetarian recipes, feast your eyes on the yummy shot of my skillet full of butter, bacon and sopressata. Oh yeah, baby. Life is all about balance.

Colcannon
(from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
4 oz. sopressata or bacon, coarsely chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I used a little of both)
8 oz. green or Savoy cabbage (I used 1/2 small head of green cabbage)
8 oz. Russian kale without stems, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons (I used one big bunch. You could also use other varieties of kale or chard)
1 cup milk
A few gratings of nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes (how much is this? I used 5 medium-ish potatoes. When in doubt, I always throw in another one, but that’s just me)

Preheat the broiler.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and sopressata and/or bacon and stir to combine.

Adding this mixture to just about anything is pretty much guaranteed to make it delicious.

Add the cabbage and kale and cook until both are tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the milk and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are soft but not browned, about 15 minutes.

While the greens are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the kale and cabbage mixture and gently mix on low speed until the potatoes are mashed and evenly mixed with the greens (you could also use an old-fashioned potato masher for this instead of a mixer if you are so inclined). Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture in a baking dish and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish. Double recipe if eating as a main dish. <<< My plan for next time.

Colcannon and pork loin. Truthfully, I could lose the pig and double the colcannon. So good.

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Green Shakshuka

The monkeys and I have spent the winter mostly hibernating, eating comfort food and getting fat. But Spring is finally here! That means farmer’s market is revving up to full swing and new things are popping up every week that make me want to experiment in the kitchen.

In one of those perfect timing situations, the lovely Jenn Louis, a chef here in Portland, is releasing her new cookbook this month (in stores April 11th, woohoo!), aptly titled The Book of Greens! I was lucky enough to be eating at her restaurant, Ray, on the day the author copies landed  and bought the very first copy. Booyah!

The cool thing about this book is it gives you plenty of recipes for the “normal” greens you might be used to eating but also for lots of things that maybe you haven’t heard of or have never tried or didn’t know you could eat. I always get a few mystery items in my CSA boxes and this is going to be a huge help when figuring out what to do with them. This cookbook highlight greens I didn’t know existed and it goes way beyond salads.

This is the second recipe I’ve made out of this book and both have been delicious. I love my eggs and who knew there was a way of making them that I’ve never tried? Normally shakshuka is made with a red, tomato-based sauce but I’ve never seen a green version. Think salsa verde on steroids, with the eggs gently cooked right in the sauce. I love the zing of the tomatillos, balanced with a little spice and a lot of greens. You can eat this with challah toast, or do as I did, and serve it over rice for dinner. I also ate the leftovers over hash browns (don’t judge, you know how I feel about potatoes). This was so tasty.

Green Shakshuka!

Green Shakshuka
(a.k.a. Malabar Spinach Shakshuka, from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and halved
4 oz. malabar spinach (I used regular spinach, or you could also sub chard)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 jalapeno, stemmed & cut into thirds (remove seeds and membranes if you want it less spicy)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion (I used half since I have an onion hater in the house)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground caraway
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
Sea salt
4 eggs
2 oz. sheep’s milk feta

Challah toast, rice or potatoes for serving

Combine tomatillos, spinach, cilantro, and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until the ingredients are well mixed but not fully pureed. The texture of the ingredients should be fine, not chunky. Set aside.

Green things getting ready to get chopped up. Don’t worry, I squished them all down in there.

Over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway, and turmeric and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. If the garlic begins to brown, decrease the heat.

Add the tomatillo mixture, season lightly with salt, and bring the sauce to a light simmer. Cook slowly until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Crack the eggs atop the spinach-tomatillo mixture, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan to allow the eggs to cook gently and steam. Cook the eggs until the whites all set, 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into individual bowls with the eggs on top, and garlic with the cilantro springs and feta. Serve immediately with challah toast, rice or potatoes (or for a low carb option, just eat it with a spoon)!

Serves 2.

 

 

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CSA Week 5: A Kale Salad I Actually Like

Kale is not my favorite. Unfortunately, it has shown up every week so far in my CSA box. But the good news is we’ve been talking a lot lately, and we’re starting to build a rapport. I’ve found I really like it sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It’s not bad sliced into ribbons and mixed with salads or pasta or thrown into a veggie medley. I have hidden it here and there in various fritters and patties and smoothies. It’s a good one to hide since other people in the household are even less enamored with it than I am.

But this salad. Kale is the star and lo, and behold! I actually really liked it. No, really! Bright, chewy, salty and sour and creamy. Good stuff. I’m not even kidding. I topped mine with a little parmesan, but if you leave that off this salad is not only tasty, it’s dairy free, gluten-free and sugar-free. The creamy texture all comes from the lovely marriage of avocado with lemon and olive oil, scrunched through the crunchy kale with your hands to coat every little ribbon.

I paired this with a couple of pan-fried slices of polenta, left over from the previous night’s herbed polenta. A little fresh tomato rounded out the plate nicely.

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

4 cups of kale, sliced into ribbons
A drizzle of olive oil, about a tablespoon
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Put kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, add the avocado, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Using your hands, scrunch everything together until all leaves are evenly coated. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 2: Drink Your Greens!

I picked up my second CSA farm box from Sun Gold Farms this weekend and my fridge is once again overflowing with produce. In this box: A huge head of leaf lettuce, a big cabbage, fava beans, sugar snap peas, curly kale, parsley, five zucchini, spring onions and a basil plant. I used almost all of last week’s produce but still have a partial cabbage and some mint, plus some broccoli that I picked up somewhere. I also bought blueberries and tomatoes at the market. Obviously there is plenty of salad on the menu this week, plus some broccoli and spring onion soup and probably some slaw and at least one other thing involving cabbage. But yesterday, it was all about the smoothies.

Yesterday I was having some issues. Issues with being a total klutz, to be exact. Every time I turned around I was knocking something over or dropping something or running into something. You would think smoothie making would be a pretty safe choice, since chopping and/or major cooking could lead to disaster on days like this. So I threw everything in the blender, and pressed go while I scrambled a couple eggs to go with it. As I’m beating the eggs, I noticed that as the blender is blending, it’s sort of traveling along the counter top with the vibration, and out of the corner of my eye I see it start to tip off the counter. In a flying leap I lunged over there and caught the floor-bound blender (as it’s still blending) one-handed (!) and as I’m setting it safely back on the counter I bumped the bowl of scrambled eggs and further scrambled them as they fell to the floor, splattering everywhere. I turned off the blender (yay, me!), cleaned up eggs, rescrambled, cooked eggs, and then poured my smoothie into glasses, dribbling a bit down the sides, but happy with the consistency, which was no doubt improved by its brief flight. I don’t recommend trying any of that at home.

If you don’t like to cook your greens, and you’re sick of eating salad, stuff those greens into a smoothie and drink them instead. You can change up the recipe to your liking depending on what fruit you have available, but I find the berries usually mask the taste of the greens, some stone fruit or banana adds sweetness and adding some herbs or citrus adds a bit of brightness as well. My kids love these and never complain about the bits of greenery I add to them. With some of the more hardy greens, be sure to have plenty of liquid and blend a little longer than usual. If you have a wimpy blender I’d probably go with spinach instead of kale since it liquifies much easier. I usually freeze all the fruit, but if your fruit is not frozen, add some ice cubes to give it that smoothie texture.

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues and Greens Smoothie

Blues & Greens Smoothie

2 big leaves of kale, ribs removed
1-2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 nectarines (fresh or frozen)
Mint – a couple of sprigs, stems removed
1 big scoop of plain yogurt
A few ice cubes if you want it extra cold or if your fruit isn’t frozen
1-2 cups sparkling water, juice, coconut water, regular water or milk (I like the sparkling water because it makes it just a tiny bit fizzy!)

Blend everything together thoroughly. Kale is a pretty hardy green, so I usually add some extra liquid and let it blend a long time to really pulverize it so I’m not chewing my smoothie, because nobody loves that. Add a little more liquid if needed to make it a drinkable consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy while it’s cold. This made enough for 2-3 servings.

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Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Even though I love veggies, I still occasionally come across one I haven’t tried before.  This week at farmer’s market, a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard caught my eye.  I had to buy it.

Rainbow Chard.  Isn't it pretty?

Rainbow Chard. Isn’t it pretty?

I asked the vendor how he normally cooks it and he sheepishly admitted that he’d never actually tried it himself.  What?  So…left to my own devices I went home and dug up some recipes online and hit on one that we all really liked.

I’m usually not a big fan of greens.  I didn’t grow up eating them, so I’ve slowly introduced myself to them.  I like almost all of them raw, and just recently have started cooking them now and then.  While I would not consider chard (or any leafy greens really) to be an entry level vegetable, I really enjoyed this.  While raw, it was quite bitter, but a quick saute mellowed the bite substantially.  The sweetness of the shallot and vinegar and smokiness of the bacon complemented the slight bitterness of the greens, adding up to a tasty dish indeed.   Add a creamy, cheesy polenta for contrast and it was absolutely delicious.  If you’re wondering if the kids will eat it, I can only say that mine both cleaned their plates with a smile on their faces.

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta
(from Sunset)

1 cup polenta
1/2 tsp. salt
4 slices thick cut bacon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bunches rainbow chard, ribs cut into 1/2 inch sections and leaves roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Cook polenta with salt as package directs.  Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

Discard bacon fat and heat olive oil in the same pan. Cook shallots, garlic and chard ribs until softened, about 4 minutes.  Stir in chard leaves, chile flakes and 1/3 cup water.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Stir butter and cheese into polenta and spoon into bowls.  Toss chard with vinegar and spoon over polenta.  Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top.  Serves 4.

Note:  This meal can easily be made vegetarian by simply eliminating the bacon.

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