30 September 2010

Greens Greens and More Greens

Occasionally, we get behind, and the CSA vegetables take over the refrigerator. My heart sank the other day when I realized that there was an entire garden’s worth of greenery to be eaten before more was due to arrive. But I plunged into the recipe box, the plastic box that has taken up permanent residence in the dining room, the plastic box full of the recipes that I am forever ripping out of the newspaper, or printing out from Smitten Kitchen, or scavenging elsewhere on the intertubes, the plastic box which one day I will sort.

I’m fond of curry, but I tend not to cook with it all that often because although my husband will eat and like curries that are presented to him fully formed, if asked in advance he’ll reject them conceptually – something about curry having been invented to mask the flavor of spoiled meats in hot climates. But the recipe box turned up a recipe for a saag (curried greens) from a blog that I can’t remember ever having visited – and it sounded good.

Being a kind of seat of the pants cook, I started it before realizing that I was missing two sort of key ingredients, but I punted and it was just fine – delicious even. We ate it over basmati rice, with corn on the cob alongside.

The next morning over breakfast, I played executive chef and invented a pasta dish in my head, for my husband to make for dinner. He took it and ran with it, adding the fall crop peas from the farm market that I’d completely forgotten about.

And the third day, we ate enough green salad for an army, thereby making room in the fridge for more greens.

Anyway, without further ado, here are two recipes for making a huge dent in the CSA greenery – I think you can figure out a green salad on your own.

Hearty Greens Saag
(adapted from Vic's Recipes)

2 T. butter
1 bunch swiss chard (cleaned and chopped)
1 bunch kale (cleaned and chopped)
1 cup of water
1 large onion, chopped [I was out of onions (!) so I just left it out]
1 large or 2-3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 T. curry powder
1 small hot chili, minced (or use a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced [I had none, so I used a teaspoon of ground ginger]
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt to taste

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large pan with a lid. Add the curry powder (and the ground ginger, if your pantry is as bare as mine was, and the cayenne if you’re going that route). Cook gently for a minute or two.

Add the chopped onion [if you had one], and cook 4 or 5 minutes, until soft. Add the minced ginger, garlic and chili pepper, and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, greens, and water. Add salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer, cover the pot and braise for 20-30 minutes.

Carefully, because it’s hot, transfer to a food processor and pulse it until it’s mostly chopped (not completely pureed). Return to the pot, add the heavy cream, and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve over rice, or use as a sauce for chicken or tofu.

Note: You could make this with just about any greens, except maybe lettuce. I think it'll work with the packets of blanched collards and random asian greens that are cluttering up my freezer.

Pasta with Arugula and Peas

2 T. butter
1 cup of freshly shelled new peas
2 big bunches of arugula (cleaned and chopped)
juice and zest of one lemon
2-4 T. olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan
Shaved parmesan for serving
Salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on to boil – for the pasta. Cook the peas in the butter, for a few minutes, until done. Transfer to a serving bowl, and add the lemon juice and zest, and the olive oil. Set aside.

Cook the pasta until done. Drain and add to the bowl with the peas. Dump all of the arugula onto the pasta, and toss – the heat of the pasta will wilt the arugula. Add the grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shaved parmesan on top.

Note: It sounds like a spring pasta, doesn't it? But my farm share has been giving us scads of arugula, and we ended up with fresh peas from the market. I asked the farmer about them; she said that she'd grown peas in the spring, then planted beans in the same area, and then found that she had volunteer peas coming up among the beans - a bonus crop!


Harriet M. Welsch said...

That saag recipe sounds delicious, maybe even delicious enough to keep me from moaning about the latest batch of chard. I'm on chard overload over here!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love eating arugula with everything and this sounds yummy and beyond easy.

I've never made saag, probably because my husband would not consider it food. Maybe I can pass it off as a sauce (which he would also eschew, on principle) and just pass on the meat myself.

bipolarlawyercook said...

While the texture does suffer a leeeeeettle, a chard/spinach/greens quiche or frittata, once baked, will freeze in slices in baggies-- and then boom-- ready, reheatable lunches for you.

Canned artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers or whatever other pantry items or cured pork product or cheese you've got lying around and BOOM, you are FANCY.

I steam and/or saute the greens first with some olive oil and water to soften, then chop, then add them in with the eggs and other ingredients to cook them until the eggs are all set "in the usual way" as them fancy cooks like to say, and then it's also a nice appetizer to whip out when HOHSHIT, COMPANY.

leanne said...

Beginning to cook without having all the ingredients sounds like something I would do. Except that I usually plan ahead. And still mess up sometimes. Because I'll convince myself that we have ingredient X (because we usually do). And we just might, maybe. But if we do have ingredient X, it's certainly not enough.

Oh, and I have recipes I need to sort as well.

YourFireAnt said...

The arugula pasta sounds scrumptious. I may try making it.

As for second crops, many things that you harvest early will give you a second batch. Rhubarb is a fairly common example. Flowers too.


Lady M said...

I've been trying to decide whether to cancel our CSA subscription (fruit only.) We eat fruit pretty fast, but too much if it is arriving spoiled or is spoiled on day two. Sigh.

nonlineargirl said...

Crap, I just remembered we have arugula in the fridge. I hate to let that go to waste.