Cooking

Vote greens!

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Photo by Emily Ryan. At Vollmecke Orchards & CSA in West Brandywine, choose from bags of freshly picked lettuce and kale.

By Emily Ryan, The Mercury

This Tuesday, cast your vote for “The Greens Party” and elect to eat more leafy greens.

The first candidate: Swiss chard. Savor it in a creamy Parmesan gratin courtesy of The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli or enjoy chard with oranges, shallots and candied pecans.

The warm salad “makes a good side dish for a holiday dinner!” said Jill Ahern of Wolff’s Apple House, a farm market and garden center in Media. “The bright colors and candied pecans make it especially festive.”

She also bakes meatless “meatballs,” with chard and kale — the next green on the ballot.

“These are really good. You can just throw them in sauce. You know it’s not meat, but it has a similar texture, so it does the trick,” Ahern explained. “It’s great because you can use any greens you have on hand or a combination of them.”

Another possibility: mustard greens, whose slogan could be “time for a change.”

“It’s a hearty green,” described chef Michael Falcone of Heart Food Truck, who serves hungry customers at the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market. “Everyone’s ‘kale, kale, kale’ and has been for years, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with kale, but it’s nice to try something different.”

He pairs sautéed mustard greens with “a pork, or a steak, or a salmon that can handle the bitterness of the greens.”

Other contenders include lettuce (aka “a name you know”), spinach, arugula, escarole, collards, beet and turnip greens.

“I tell people for something like kale or collards, always strip it off the stem because sometimes people don’t know that,” reminded Ahern.

Also, try cooking the stems separately. And unless those greens are young and tender, she said, “I always blanch them first and then sauté them on really high heat with garlic and salt.”

Yes we can … eat more greens.

Chard with Oranges, Shallots, and Candied Pecans

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Photo by Emily Ryan. Chard grows at Springton Manor Farm in Glenmoore.

A colorful, warm salad with a tangy sweet-sour flavor

Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 pound white, red or rainbow chard, washed and trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small unpeeled orange or tangerine, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup candied pecans

Instructions

Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Cut leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems (on the diagonal if you like); keep the leaves and stems separate.

Put the oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and sugar and cook for a minute, then stir in the orange or tangerine bits and lower the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.

Return the heat to medium and stir in the chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften a bit, just a minute or 2. Add the chard ribbons, cover and turn off the heat. Let the chard steam for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir and re-cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper, the candied pecans and serve immediately.

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF CHARLES SMITH, WOLFF’S APPLE HOUSE

Baked Meatless “Meatballs”

These vegetarian “meatballs” are packed with greens — any greens you like. Use one kind only or mix and match. They work with traditional spaghetti and sauce, or try them simmered in a curry sauce over rice. Or just pop them in your mouth as a healthy snack!

Ingredients

1 large bunch fresh greens (at least ½ pound): kale, chard, beet greens, spinach, etc.

½ cup basil, cilantro or parsley

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

Salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 cup breadcrumbs

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1 egg

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from greens. Combine greens and herbs in a food processor and pulse several times, until pieces are very small but not puréed.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat and add onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook for a minute more. Add the greens and herb mixture and sauté for 2 minutes or until wilted. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add the breadcrumbs and feta cheese. Mix well and taste to adjust seasoning, and then mix in the egg.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on the parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

RECIPE COURTESY OF WOLFF’S APPLE HOUSE

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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Photo by Emily Ryan. Try kale in a smoothie or salad.

Ingredients

1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and chopped fine

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped

¼ cup shaved Parmesan

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Dressing:

½ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Pour 1/3 of dressing over kale and gently massage into chopped kale for 2 to 3 minutes. Add pecans, Parmesan and cranberries. Mix in remaining dressing and toss thoroughly. Let sit for one hour.

RECIPE COURTESY OF GREENER PARTNERS

Creamy Parmesan Swiss Chard Gratin

Photo by Emily Ryan Rainbow Swiss chard fills a colander.

Photo by Emily Ryan. Rainbow Swiss chard fills a colander.

Servings: 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter; more for coating the gratin dish

½ cup toasted, coarse fresh bread crumbs

1 cup heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

½ teaspoon salt, divided

3 strips bacon

1 pound (about 1 bunch) Swiss chard, washed and drained, stems removed and cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices, leaves cut into ½-inch wide ribbons

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow 5- or 6-cup ceramic gratin dish. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss it with the breadcrumbs; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and the garlic to a boil, reduce heat and simmer vigorously for 5 minutes; the cream should be reduced to about ¾ cup. Take the pan off the heat and remove the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon. Let the cream cool slightly. Season it with a few grindings of fresh pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and browned. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and leave 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to skillet.

Add the chard stems and cook over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chard leaves and season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Sauté until all the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chard to the gratin dish, spreading them evenly.

Sprinkle the crumbled bacon and cheese over the chard. Pour the seasoned cream over all and top with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes; the gratin will be brown and bubbly. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

RECIPE COURTESY OF THE KITCHEN WORKSHOP

Escarole and White Bean Soup with Croutons

Servings: 4

Ingredients

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 medium head escarole (about 14 ounces), leaves sliced across into ¾-inch wide strips, thoroughly washed

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup cooked small white beans

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup grated Parmesan

2 cups croutons, divided

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until onion is softened, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the escarole and stir thoroughly to coat the leaves. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grindings of pepper. Add the stock and stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and lower heat till just a simmer and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover the pot, add the beans and simmer another 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat. Ladle the soup into four shallow soup bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon of the cheese and a quarter of the croutons.

RECIPE COURTESY OF THE KITCHEN WORKSHOP

Sautéed Mustard Greens

Remove center stem from leaves and rinse and dry greens. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan and add 1 tablespoon of garlic; add greens, sautéing till tender. Add ¼ cup chicken stock or water to help wilt greens. Once tender, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

RECIPE COURTESY OF HEART FOOD TRUCK

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