Monday, March 11, 2013

Swiss chard and greens gratin


Along with winter squash comes armloads of greens in the winter. Although I love braising greens, variety is a welcome change.  Some of my go to recipes for Swiss chard are braised greens in a taco with chipotle sauce, Swiss chard soup with chick peas, chard ragu over pasta, Swiss chard lasagna, orchiette with arugula and Swiss chard.

Typically gratins are full of cheese and heavy cream, and while this gratin satisfies just as much as another, it is much healthier.

Blanch Swiss chard and any other greens (like spinach, beet greens, and turnip greens) in boiling salted water, drain, cool, and squeeze out excess water. 

Saute onion, garlic, and a touch of crushed red pepper, then add greens.  The secret to making the gratin thick and creamy is to sprinkle a little flour over the cooked greens before adding whole milk.

To make the gratin crisp, make sure the greens are relatively dry and be sure to toss the bread crumbs with melted butter and toast in the oven until crispy and slightly brown.  The result will be a perfectly crisp, satisfying gratin.  No one would suspect that it is healthy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

CSA menu: December and January


I am officially settled into winter.  It is time for winter comforts like crisp and oozey gratins, hot soups and stews, and hearty braised greens. It's amazing how many wonderful vegetables are growing even in the winter, from dark greens like collard greens, spinach, and kale to root vegetables and gorgeous winter squashes. And abundant earthy mushrooms.

Eating locally and seasonally, either through a CSA or by shopping at a nearby farmer's market, focuses your attention on all that is growing around us and helps establish a wonderful deep connection with the earth and mother nature.

I have some new winter recipes this season. First is a delightful  spicy tagine, a steaming hot stew of sweet potato, turnips, and carrots seasoned with toasted cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds and topped with a spicy homemade harissa sauce served over couscous.

Next, I have three comforting, delicious gratins, ranging from healthy to rich: a Swiss chard (and other greens) gratin,  a cauliflower gratin, and a fennel, potato, and leek gratin. I also make two tarts:  a leek and red Swiss chard tart and a leek and epoisses tart.

A couple exciting winter pasta dishes include spicy squash penne, braised kale spaghetti with toasted bread crumbs, fennel frond pesto over orccheitte, and spinach cannellini bean spaghetti with garlic chips.

Soups on the table this winter include a broccoli and leek soup with broiled cheddar and a butternut squash and fennel soup with fennel chips. I also have a delicious carrot cilantro soup to take you into spring.

I experimented with collard greens to make a traditional Gujarati dish called patra or patarveliya that is typically made with taro leaves. A layer of paste made from chick pea flour, tamarind paste, lemon juice, green chili, ginger, and spices is spread over the leaves. Then the leaves are folded and rolled, and then steamed in a pressure cooker. Once cooled, the rolls are sliced and then sauteed with mustard seeds and sesame seeds and topped with grated coconut and chopped cilantro.  One of my favorite Indian vegetable dishes is pav bhavi, a  mix of cauliflower, potatoes, peas, and carrots cooked with tomatoes and spices and served over buttered toasted bread. And for New Year's Day, I *had* to make Indian spiced black-eyed peas and braised collard greens to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year.

Below are my meal plans for December and January.

Week of December 11:

red kuri squash
collard greens
swiss chard

Our CSA Meal Plan for the Week:
Day 1: Swiss chard and spinach and turnip greens gratin
Broccoli soup with broiled cheddar

Day 2: Patra... steamed collard green rolls with chick pea flour, spices, and tamarind
Dal made with three lentils, udad, masoor, and channa

Day 3: Pav bhaji... cauliflower, potato, carrot, tomato, onion, peas with toasted bread

Day 4: Spicy vegetable tagine with sweet potato, turnip, carrot, and harissa over couscous

Day 7: Indian spiced black-eyed peas and braised collard greens
Day 8: Indian spiced winter squash

 Week of January 8:
butternut squash
tuscan kale

CSA menu plan for the week:
Day 1:  Braised kale spaghetti with toasted bread crumbs and parmesan
Lemon and parmesan roasted broccoli

Day 2:  Aloo gobi... Indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes

Day 3:  Fennel, leek, and potato gratin with parmesan

Day 4:  Spinach, beet green, turnip green, and kale gratin

Day 5:  Roasted beets, fennel stalk, and barley with caraway seeds and parmasean

Day 6:  Leek ragu with crackers
Butternut squash arugula salad with pepitas

Day 7:  Carrot salad, jalapeno, cilantro, lime, and ground cumin
potato sabzi with ground peanuts, lemon, and green chilis

Day 8:  Butternut squash and kale farro

Week of January 22:
red chard
sweet potato
butternut squash

CSA menu for the week:
Day 1:  Sweet potato, turnip, carrot tagine with spicy harrissa

Day 2:  Fennel frond pesto over orecchiette
Broccolini with garlic and crushed red pepper

Day 3:  Roasted beet salad with herb dressing
Leek and red chard tart
Roasted carrots
Day 4:  Butternut squash soup with fennel chips
Leek and chard stems toast with dijon
Day 5:  Spaghetti with spinach, cannellini beans, and garlic chips

Day 6:  Leek and epoisses tart
Roasted carrots

Day 7:  Carrot cilantro soup

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spicy kisir salad


I've never really like tabouleh. I always found it to be too parsley and mint heavy and lacking more complex flavors.  My aversion for tabouleh may be linked to the frequency at which I ate it for lunch in the Walker dining hall at MIT in between classes in the Econ Department.

Let me introduce you to spicy kisir salad, a Turkish version of tabouleh, which emphasizes bulgur over parsley and is dressed with tomato paste, red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice. Similar to tabouleh, the kisir has parsley, mint, scallions, and tomatoes, but in my opinion, is way more delicious!

Spicy kisir is refreshing and sour and spicy and you can adjust the level of spice with red pepper paste and green chile to give it a nice kick.

With overflowing green onions and mint, I have been making kisir regularly. I even shredded carrots and added them to the kisir to make it even more nutritious. I served it on a crisp lettuce leaf as an appetizer for dinner and ate a bowl of kisir for lunch.

The red pepper paste and pomegranate molasses can be found at Turkish or Arabic grocery stores.

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