Monday, April 25, 2011

Wilted Greens 2 Ways

I love mixing up my cooking greens in a couple different ways. One thing I like to do is a wilted greens salad. For this, I use a mix of both salad greens and young cooking greens like chard or spinach. I like the leaves to be pretty small. This works great with baby bok choy, tat soy, chard and baby spinach. I think it would also be fine with baby mizuna. What I do is pour some olive oil in a skillet and heat it until it sheets. Add some chopped green garlic or pressed garlic cloves. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are browned but there is still some of their liquid in the pan. Wash and mix the greens and put them in a bowl. Add some balsamic vinegar to the pan and heat it up. Add a little more oil to make a dressing. Pour the entire contents of the skillet over the greens and toss to lightly wilt and dress the greens. Add some grated cheese to the top. If you have roasted beets, they're great in this salad as well.

For more bitter greens like wild mustard, wild radish or Italian rapini, I like to wilt them a bit more and add a vinegar while hot. This is more of a traditional Mediterranean side dish. The recipe below is posted on Epicurious and comes from Gourmet Magazine.

Wilted Mixed Greens
Gourmet, May 2003
There is a tradition in Crete of gathering wild greens and using them not only in vegetable or salad dishes but also as stuffings for savory turnovers. Cretans make use of tiny leeks, wild fennel, purslane, and milkwort, as well as the more familiar greens. We have substituted a mixture of the varieties of tender greens available at most supermarkets. You can even use prepackaged mixes, such as baby Asian salad or baby braising mix.
Yield: Serves 4 (as part of mezedes)

1 1/2 pound mixed tender or baby greens such as young chard, kale, mustard greens, spinach, beet greens, dandelion, and arugula, coarse stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (20 cups)
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Cook greens in a 6- to 8-quart pot of , uncovered, until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain greens in a colander, then immediately plunge into a large bowl of very cold water to stop cooking. Once cooled, drain in colander, tossing occasionally, 1 hour.
Just before serving, whisk together vinegar, salt, and oil in a bowl until combined well. Add greens and toss to coat.

Read More

Monday, April 18, 2011

James Beard's Spinach Pasta

I just made some spinach pasta using my Bloomsdale spinach from our share this past week. It was beautifully green and very tasty. Freshly made pasta is much more flavorful than that dried packaged stuff. I made a brown butter, green garlic and sage topping and added some aged parmesan. Try it!

Green Pasta
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound spinach, wilted and squeezed dry

The easiest way to make this pasta is in a mixer or food processor.
By Electric Mixer:
Fit the paddle into your electric mixer. Put the flour and salt into the bowl and give it a quick whirl to mix them. Add the egg, spinach and oil and turn on the beater. Let it go for half a minute, until you have coarse grains of dough in the bowl, something like the consistency of piecrust before it is gathered into a ball.

Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead in the bowl for 5 minutes. OR take the dough from the bowl, dust a wooden surface with flour, pat the dough into a ball, and knead for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you should have a firm, smooth bright green ball of dough. Cover with a cloth and let rest a minimum of 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.

By Food Processor:
Put the metal blade into the food processor. Measure in the flour and salt, and process briefly to blend them. Drop the eggs, oil and spinach through the feeding tube, and let the machine run until the dough begins to form a ball, around 15 seconds should do it. Once you've become familiar with the method, you'll be able to correct the recipe at this point. If the dough seems too sticky, add more flout. If it's too dry (unlikely with the spinach) add a few drops of oil.

Turn out the dough out onto a floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and continue the kneading begun by the food processor. Work for 3-5 minutes, adding more flour as needed, until you have a smooth ball of dough. Set it to rest under a dish towel for a minimum of 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Polenta with Greens and Eggs

There are several recipes for cooked greens with corn meal mush or polenta or grits and eggs. I have taken a couple and adapted it to my taste.

Adapted from the smart palate recipe for creamy polenta with greens and poached egg and a Southern fried eggs, grits and collard greens recipe.

4 cups water
1 cup polenta (I am using Country Grains Floriani from Oliveto in Oakland. It is very coarse.)
1 tsp sea salt
2-1/2 cups wild greens like wild mustard or radish greens cut in strips
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Bring water to a boil in a 2 or 3 quart pot.
Add salt to pot, then add polenta in a steady, slow stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk for a minute or so to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Whisk every few minutes (polenta likes to stick to the bottom of the pot). Add more water (1/4 cup at a time) if the polenta becomes too thick.

Meanwhile, wilt the greens in a pan with the water remaining on their leaves and some salt.

When polenta is cooked to your liking, turn off heat and stir in the chopped greens. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cover until ready to serve. (If reserved polenta becomes too thick, or to reheat leftovers, stir in 1/4 cup water or milk and whisk over low heat for a couple of minutes to loosed it up.)

To poach eggs: add water, to a depth of about 3 inches, to a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil, add vinegar, and reduce heat to low. (It should be just below a simmer, hot enough for small bubbles to form on the bottom of the pot but not actively bubbling - that would break up the egg.) Break each egg into a small cup and carefully slide egg into water. I like to swirl the water with the handle of a wooden spoon right after adding the egg; it prevents the egg from spreading out too much into the water. Poach for 4 to 5 minutes, until white is firm and yolk is still soft. Remove egg from pot with a slotted spoon.

If you want, you can cook your eggs however you like them. This dish is delicious with fried eggs, creamy scrambled eggs or poached eggs, so experiment!

Transfer hot polenta to bowls. Top each serving with a serving of egg, drizzle with olive oil, and shower with parmesan shavings.