Indian-Style greens

I love my greens. Living in the northwest I better. Luckily our cooler climate creates the best greens around. Both for salad greens and for braising. Two of my favorite braising greens is the aptly named Dinosaur kale, or Lacinato kale, named so for its crinkly long straight leaves and Rainbow chard, with its brightly colored stems and delicious leaves.

Both of these greens get sweeter in the cold and are well suited for being quickly blanched and eaten tender and salad-like and  the long slow braise that makes them velvety and soft, releasing their hidden potential. In this week’s box I had substituted my apples out for more greens, but now realize that I have spinach, Rainbow chard and Lacinato kale all coming in the same box, plus some left over collards in the fridge.

This calls for a braised greens throw down. I had already planned on making some simple dhal, an Indian bean dish that is delicious and spicy and full of great exotic flavors. So this greens dish will compliment that perfectly. A little home made naan and I’ve got a meal. If I had the foresight to make some fresh yogurt I’d be in business – for those of you wondering how to make your own yogurt check out GoodFoodHealth’s blog post next Monday on this probiotic miracle.

One of the best things about braising greens is the time, this dish takes barely 30 minutes from start to finish. Unlike the dhal which needs to cook for about 90 minutes. That means this is a quick dish that can be easily paired with basmati rice, naan or just thick flour tortillas.

Remember, although I used a mixture of Rainbow, Lacinato and spinach, you can easily use any other green to make this dish – broccoli raab, mustard greens, mizuna or arugula will all work.

1 1/4 pound greens, kale and chard
1/2 pound spinach, cleaned
2 T cornmeal
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 T ginger, grated
1 red onion, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 t coriander seeds, crushed
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add greens and wilt for 1 to 2 minutes. Lightly wilt spinach, then drain all greens. Transfer to a food processor, or finely chop until a rough puree. Sprinkle cornmeal over puree and mix to combine. Transfer greens to a bowl.

Finely mince, or puree in food processor, garlic, jalapenos and ginger. Add onions and pulse until finely chopped and mixed. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high, until just about smoking. Add cumin and coriander, let saute briefly for 30 seconds then add onion mixture and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Add pureed greens and cook for 4 minutes, letting the two flavors infuse, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of water if greens look too dry. At this point you can eat them, they might have a little tender crunch and the spinach will be soft, but I like to cook mine on low for another ten minutes so they are very soft. They will lose a little of their color, becoming a soft darker green and not as bright, but the flavor and texture is smooth and well blended. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Picture sent in by member Brit Saleeby Porter of the Braised Kale with Pancetta and Apples from Farm Notes

 

To tell you the truth I’ve been so busy this week I haven’t had a moment to really look at this coming week’s box. This last week was greens and more greens, with salads, and sauteed kale, braised chards and gently wilted baby spinach. Sometimes these greens snuck their way into my breakfast and other times they were bold and bright piled high next to some delicious farro.

Either way they have become truly my favorite staple and quick go to fixing for any meal. This coming week’s fare is a little lighter with hints of spring. Those crafty farmers have somehow managed to fight the cold onslaughts that have pelted the West Coast and produce a semblance of spring. Radishes and baby spinach side by side with Rainbow chard and Russett potatoes.

I like these transition seasons. The nostalgia of waning flavors and anticipation of new arrivals is what eating close to the earth is all about. Just as I realize I’m close to eating the last sunchoke of the season, some little purple-headed french breakfast radish pops his head up to say hi. I’m going to ride that edge next week. Make the most of these waning winter flavors and make some shoulder season magic.

By the way – Congratulations to our Full Circle Box Challenge winners! Way to go on creating awesome and delicious recipes out of your Farm-to-Table boxes. We’ll be featuring one of the top recipes here in the weeks to come, I hope you’ll be as excited to try it out as we were to find it! First prize went to Angie Yusuf, for her delicious Supreme Potato Curry with Fruit Chutney, she’ll be receiving a bottle of Sicilian Organic Olive oil in her box next week. Also, a shout out to our two runners-up, Jennifer Peters and Pooravi Thaker, they’ll be getting a couple of choice gifts as well.

Keep your eyes open for our next Box Challenge and in the meantime eat well, be well.

The Cippolini onions in the box were my highlight this week. I should have double my order so I could have done a simple roasted onion with balsamic glaze, one of my favorites, but since I only had the half pound I decided they needed some company. Two other items immediately jumped to the forefront – lovely button-sized Cremini mushrooms and one thick-walled and perfect red pepper.

I think the most used pan in my arsenal is the oldest and the simplest. A heavy cast iron pan I picked up in Alaska with no brand on it – I think it used to have a number stamped in the bottom that is now completely unrecognizable under the layer of char. I also have a flat skillet that was my mother’s first gift to me when I moved out of the house.

I use these pans almost daily. For those of you that haven’t discovered the magic of a well-seasoned cast iron pan I would suggest buying one. They’re cheap and after a few good seasonings they become as non-stick as any teflon pan on the market (just don’t ever wash it with soap, or put it in the dishwasher or you’ll be back to square one).

In our new house we don’t have the luxury of a gas stove – I know. Believe me it pains me daily. On our old gas stove I loved roasting red peppers directly over the flames, getting an even coating of black and a deep roasted flavor. Not to be deterred by this lack of convenience, I turned to my ever handy cast iron pan and dry roasted the pepper there, surrounded by quarters of Cippolini onions all merrily browning away.

Dry roasting vegetables really let’s their true flavors shine. Instead of softening and mellowing under the gentle transfer of heat through oils it directly caramelizes the vegetables itself giving it an intense and satisfying flavor. Combining this method with the steakhouse-style oven roasted mushrooms resulted in one of the best and simplest Cippolini dishes yet, perfect for a quick starter with a few slices of bread and some hard cheese.

1/2 pound Cremini mushrooms
1/2 pound Cippolini onions, peeled and quartered
1 large red pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
1 t fresh thyme, minced
1 T capers
1 1/2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 T fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a dry heavy-bottomed pan up to medium-high heat and place whole pepper on pan in the center with onions face down around, spaced evenly. Roast for 2-3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned.

In a medium casserole dish toss mushrooms, garlic, herbs, oil butter and capers. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add roasted onions, toss to coat and place in the oven on a middle rack. Continue roasting the red pepper until evenly charred, then place in a plastic bag or wrap in a dishtowel to sweat for a few minutes.

Remove and place under running cold water, removing charred skin, stem and inner veins. Slice into strips and add to mushroom onion mixture, tossing to coat. Continue roasting until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste and serve.

About the sauerkraut – turns out its much easier than I thought and though it takes some time its all in the subtlety. I’m going to run a few test batches using different combinations of vegetables and spices and I’ll get back to you. Meanwhile, here is a nutrient rich and delicious recipe for the mushrooms in your box.

Mushrooms have many health benefits, for more on that check out our Good Food Health blog, and can be eaten raw or cooked. This recipe combines the fleshy chew of mushrooms with the pop and crunch of spiraled quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain dating back more than five thousand years to the vast and vibrant Inca civilization of South America. It is a great source of protein and provides all the essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. It also contains no gluten and is easy on the digestive system.

Quinoa has a nutty flavor and can be enjoyed as a hot grain or cooled for a tabouli-type salad. One of my favorite recipes combines quinoa, basmati, millet and barley for an intense pilaf. This particular recipe is perfect for a side dish, a main course or stuffing for peppers or roasted tomatoes. The Marsala wine pairs well with the mushrooms and is tempered by the soy sauce, which also provides virtually the only sodium in the dish, besides the pinch of salt for the grain.

For the base to the mushrooms, onions, garlic, shallots or leeks will all work. Use what is available. I just used a little less than half a yellow onion and it was delicious. You may have to add a splash of olive oil after you add the mushrooms, but don’t over oil, they should be lightly coated, but not greasy.

The other addition is the greens and they can also be a wide variety of ingredients. I used arugula and merely folded it into the quinoa right before I added the liquids, this allowed it to lightly wilt, but not over cook. If you’d prefer chard or kale, you’ll have to adjust the cooking times to match the texture you’re looking for. I’d add the chard when the mushrooms are about half way done and the kale could be finely chiffoned and added about the same time.

Whatever your ingredients, this recipe creates a healthy, delicious and satisfying meal that will please everyone.

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
2 T olive oil
3 T onion, leeks or shallots, minced
1 t fresh thyme
1/2 lb. Cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2 T Soy sauce
3 cups chopped greens, chard, kale or arugula
1/2 t whole fennel seed, crushed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Add quinoa and salt to two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside. Warm a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil, when hot add onions and saute until translucent and just lightly beginning to brown. Add mushrooms and toss to coat, add a splash more of oil if necessary, sprinkle on herb. Saute for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Toss in quinoa and mix in greens (if using spinach or arugula, if kale or chard mix in and cook till tender before adding grain). Add fennel seeds,  marsala and soy sauce. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.  Makes 3-4 servings.

I didn’t realize that my last post was missing something until I looked at the box list for this coming week – blood oranges. Now we’re talking. Oranges with a hint of raspberry, blueberry action. Plus just the obvious macabre of them – it just sounds gruesome. So I’m planning on making something delicious out of them, even if it is just a Blood orange sorbet or some simple salad. Too good to pass up.

I also realize I don’t have any pictures for you of our turkey. It is unjust, as it was an appreciated bird, lovely and delicious and deserved to be seen – if not worshiped and devoured with massive quantities of roasted garlic mashers and oyster stuffing – as it was. My only excuse was that I was hungry, my lovely guests were hungry and the camera, not being at hand, was forfeit to the glory of the moment. But it was glorious, believe me.

I couldn’t get the whole grill smoking thing going, or could have but it would have involved cutting the bird in half due to its gargantuan size. This, I just could not bring myself to do, no matter my insatiable craving for smoked meats. It turns out my barbecue is too small and they don’t make an attachable expander ring with optional rotisserie for my model, or at least they didn’t at my local hardware store.

Regardless, it was triumphant and had many happy returns throughout the week in various delectable guises. Like the turkey between two slices of whole grain with cranberry mustard and Swiss cheese or the turkey tetrazzini with brown butter breadcrumbs (my personal favorite). In fact, it was so thoroughly enjoyed I’ve decided that twice a year is not enough and plan on a summer turkey party as well. We’ll see how that goes over.

As far as next week’s bounty goes, here’s what I’m looking at:

Tomatoes
Red Potatoes
Baby Spinach
Yellow Onions
Green Cabbage
Arugula
Red Leaf Lettuce
Collard Greens
Blood Oranges
Avocados
D’anjou Pears
Gala Apples

I’m leaving in my apples and pears because even without my juicer I’ve managed to work my way through about two weeks worth of fruit by myself, as my better half has been out of town most of this week. How did I do it you ask? I ate one piece of fruit for breakfast and took at least two pieces with me to work. It was actually amazing. I’ve never eaten so much fruit. But it is also delicious, and I had a lot of citrus – which is at its prime right now. So even though it seems like a lot it wasn’t and I thoroughly enjoyed how it made me feel.

I might sub out the tomatoes, as I’m a bit of a stickler for the delish ones in the summer, but everything else is well appreciated. The Baked Potato Soup recipe coming with the box is awesome and will well accommodate my russets. The spinach and arugula will either adorn our homemade pie (by that I mean pizza) or compose some lovely peppery salads, most likely with avocados and blood oranges!

For the green cabbage I’m thinking of trying my hand at some homemade sauerkraut. Julie from Firefly Kitchens has been using Full Circle’s red cabbage to make kraut and it sounds delicious, so I think this might be my next experiment in fermented foods. Though I am feeling another kimchi binge coming up.

The collards will go per usual, wilted, lemon juiced, a touch of garlic and shallot, olive oil, my favorite side. And for the pears and apples? Salads as well, or mixed in with the collards. All manner of eating awaits them and I’m hungry for their vitamin rich goodness. Hopefully it doesn’t snow and we continue to get these sunny, if cold, breaks in the rain and clouds.

For next week – Sauerkraut. Eat well, be happy.

Arugula is one of those peppery greens that can be overpowering and bitter when eaten raw. Thankfully, our colder northern climate removes much of the bitterness, leaving a rich and spicy pepper taste that has a buttery, earthy flavor. Arugula is wonderful wilted on pizza, added to spinach salads or wilted into pasta.

When eaten raw and by itself it needs some complimentary flavors to mellow its spiciness and bring out its more subtle qualities. Blue cheese or other soft cheeses help to accentuate its buttery texture. One of my favorite salads is a blue cheese, roasted walnut, pear and arugula salad. Its strong rich flavors are bridged with a dash of balsamic vinegar and some raw crushed garlic.

This recipe is similar, but a little lighter and anticipates the flavors of spring. The bright orange and pungent shallots both mellows and pairs with the peppery green, while the fats of the avocado smooth everything together. This is a wonderful lunch salad, the added crunch of roasted and salted pistachios providing excellent texture and substituting the need for any croutons or starch. Making this salad a gluten-free choice.

Pair this salad with a dinner entree of roasted and stuffed squash or a roasted eggplant pasta or curry. Its many flavors, both spicy and sweet, pungent and subtle go well with a variety of dishes. Arugula is a green to experiment with, enjoy and create some wonderful flavors. Try using different fruits, nuts and cheeses along with a variety of vinaigrettes to create your own signature salad.

2 oranges, zested
2 small oranges, juiced or 1 large orange, juiced
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T honey
2 t shallots, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10-12 oz washed arugula or spinach
1 tangerine or orange, cut into peeled wedges
1 avocado, cut into chunks
2 T pistachios, roasted in a dry pan until light brown and salted

In a blender combine the zest, juice, vinegar, honey, shallots, salt and pepper. Blend until well incorporated. While blending, add olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.

Place arugula in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and top with citrus and avocado chunks. Sprinkle on pistachios and serve.

The mountains up near Winthrop, Washington

Here’s a shot of where we were last week. That’s what took us out of town and left our bird in the freezer. But now, finally it’s turkey time. I’ve got it all, including a wonderful order of green beans, shallots, stuffing mix, carrots, celery and oysters. Not to mention a turkey from Abundant Acres Farm in Toledo, Washington. Not only is my family coming over, but it’s one of my best friend’s birthdays. Not that celebration really needs an occasion, but it helps.

Next week’s box is full of fresh farm goodness –

Avocados
Russet Potatoes
Spinach
Cilantro
Broccolini
Arugula
Romaine Lettuce
Rainbow Chard
Navel Oranges
Honey Tangerines
D’anjou Pears
Braeburn Apples

I’m thinking of things that will go with turkey leftovers, so a Mexican hominy soup sounds tasty, especially with the cilantro and avocados. Organically grown cilantro has a stronger flavor, which for a coriander lover, such as myself is great. Though others that may not be so disposed may want to lessen the amount some.

Another thing I’d like to do is an arugula and citrus salad, maybe with one of the tangerines and the other avocado. Arugula has such a great peppery flavor that pairs well with the slight sweetness and tartness of citrus, especially when tempered by a bit of honey.

Russet potatoes mean I might just need to take another swing at gnocci. The last ones I made were good, especially with the spinach, but were still dense. This time I’m going to put them through a food mill and use rainbow chard that has been steamed quickly but well drained and see if I can get another, lighter version.

Broccolini is great just sauteed as a side or tossed on the grill and seared. This may just have to share a plate with straight up turkey leftovers, mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m hungry already.

I’ve got quite a build up of fruit lately, so might trade out my apples and pears for more greens. I seriously cannot eat enough kales, chards, and now that arugula is back it’s time for some pie – and by that I mean pizza!

I was going to take a picture of my turkey in brine this morning, but I was running late. So instead I’ll share my brine recipe. It’s extremely simple, as brining should be, and can basically evolve to match any wild flavors you feel inclined to throw at it.

1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 T molasses
3 bay leaves
2 T peppercorns, whole
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t coriander, whole
1/2 t allspice, whole
2 apples, cut in chunks
2 T truffle salt (optional)

Put half the water in a large pot, add salt, sugar and molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. When boiling add all spices and remove from heat. Let sit and cool for 30 minutes. While you prep your turkey. Add remainder of water, I used half water and half ice to help it cool the brine quickly. The brine should be tepid by this point, add truffle salt. Place turkey in a large pot, breast side down, fill with brine and place in refrigerator. Brine for 8-16 hours depending on size. This will make enough brine for a 14-16 pound bird. For larger or smaller amounts keep the ratio of salt to water, but everything else can be approximated.

Wish me luck. I should have some great pictures for you next week!

I know I said citrus and turnips and though this dish could easily be made with lemon juice – that counts doesn’t it? –  i just couldn’t switch gears to orange flavors once I got started. Turnips this time of year are great for salads. Sliced thin, julienned or grated, the winter cold has brought out their sweeter side and created the perfect balance of crispness and flavor.

This is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or richer cuts. The Greek yogurt is a soft base to layer crisp watery cucumbers alongside thinly sliced turnips. A dash of lemon juice or vinegar, chopped parsley and thinly sliced onions or in this case shallots, a little salt and pepper and your done.

Simple, crisp, light and tasty. I think this is my new favorite turnip dish. Though Turnip and Yukon mashers are hard to beat.

1 purple top turnip, peeled and julienned
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and julienned
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 T lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 T parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, or other plain yogurt

Add turnips, cucumbers and shallots to bowl, toss with lemon juice or vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with yogurt and parsley. Serve stacked alternately for height with rich meats, or grilled and strongly flavored foods.

Also remember, Full Circle’s Farm-to-Table Box Challenge started this week and ends next Friday. To see how you can participate and for official rules and regulations visit our Facebook page.

I’ve been sort of slacking on the whole turkey thing. We are going out of town this weekend so I’m postponing until next. Which means I’ll need a good three day thaw time and a good 24 hr brine before the big day next Saturday. In the meantime I’ve created the meat monstrosity above. Blue cheese and bacon meatloaf thanks to our partners at Heritage Meats and Fine Cooking and their handy meatloaf machine, which they also have online and is less useful than the magazine directions, but cool nonetheless. The little brown piles on top are melted blue cheese. I realized post broil that I should have put them on afterward, but alas, live and learn. Though they tasted great, it sort of ruined the aesthetic of the bacon slices. At least this will hold off the turkey cravings for a day or so – and make some awesome sandwiches!

By the way – for any of you readers in Thurston County, as well as anyone in Spokane, I just found out that Full Circle is now ready to take members for their community pick-up sites in both areas. No home delivery yet, but once the members come rolling in – it won’t be far behind. So let any friends and family living in those areas know that they now have access to the good food life!

As for next week’s box –

Cucumbers                Green Leaf Lettuce
Purple Top Turnips      Lacinato Kale
Broccoli                      Navel Oranges
Yellow Onions             Mangos
Spinach                      D’anjou Pears
Cremini Mushrooms    Gala Apples

I’m pretty happy with everything as it is, though I might lose the mangos for something else. Not that I have anything against them, they just don’t seem to fit into my meal plan until it warms up a bit more. True barbecue times. There’s nothing like grilled mangos. I think what I’m most excited about in this box is the turnips. With a culinary heritage both lengthy and diverse there are plenty of recipes out there, but I’d like to find something different than my usual roasted turnips, turnip au gratin or turnip potato mashers.

I’ve seen a few crunchy style turnip and apple, as well as turnip and radish salads. I’m interested to try a citrus based turnip dish, but we’ll see how that goes. The broccoli is going into the Cheesy Broccoli and Rice dish, and the Lacinato will make some wild rice salad or braised kale and apple dish. I’ve been really enjoying my pan roasted mushroom lately, especially as an appetizer. With the spinach in the box I might add them to a spinach and mushroom quiche, which is quick, easy and can be breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Also, remember that Full Circle’s Farm-to-Table Box Challenge begins Monday, February 7th at 9am. Check out the events tab on our Facebook page for details. Have a great weekend. Eat well, feel good.

Carrots are one of those vegetables that often end up in my salads or juiced as part of a morning drink. When cooked they are often added to a stir fry or mixed into a stew. Rarely are they featured alone, allowed to show off their natural versatility. And they are versatile. Carrots are one of the most widely consumed vegetables in the world and you can find them in almost any culture’s cooking.

The common carrot, Daucus Carota Sativa, is indigenous to Europe and parts of Asia, but varies widely from its wild forefathers. Evidence of the carrot as a culinary component has existed since Mesolithic times, but the cultivation of the modern carrot as we know it today probably originated from Afghanistan and was later mutated and bred to its sweet, less woody and crunchy form we love today.

My mother always grew carrots and I distinctly remember running out to the garden to pick them for dinner salads. Their gentle give as they parted from the earth, sometimes barely dirty and bright orange with greenish tints to the top, and their bright earthy smell was enticing enough for me to barely brush the dirt off before I took a bite.

When I opened my box to find the multi-colored bunched carrots on top this morning I thought a simple roasting recipe was in order. This recipe, like so many, is only a starting place. Carrots pair well with a huge variety of spices and flavors. Indian dishes include them roasted and tossed with coconut, mint and yogurt or try them flavored Moroccan style, spiced with lemon juice, paprika, cumin and chili powder. In Mexico they are sliced and boiled till tender with bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, vinegar and jalapenos. A tasty side to tacos and carnitas.

This recipe is as easy as it gets, the only flavors are the olive oil – use extra virgin – the citrus zest, I used Minneolas, and the honey – I used wildflower honey, but any would do. You can also steam them first until crisp tender, then finish them in the oven. Just be aware you won’t need as much liquid.

1 bunch medium to small-sized carrots
Juice of one medium-sized citrus
2 T olive oil, bit more for finishing
2 T honey
Salt and Pepper
1 T chopped parsley or mint for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice carrots on a bias about 1/4-inch thick. Toss in olive oil and salt to taste. Place in a large roasting pan so that the carrots from one single layer. Add citrus juice and cover tightly with foil. Place on center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil and drizzle honey. Toss carrots to coat evenly and return, uncovered to oven. Raise temperature to 450. Cook carrots until soft but slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss in parsley, season to taste and serve.