May in the Kitchen – Green Beans with Spinach and Seedy Mix

May in the Kitchen – Green Beans with Spinach and Seedy Mix

Green beans with spinach and seedy mix

Green beans with spinach and seedy mix

The seedy mix will add a crunch to many vegetable dishes. The green colors in this dish are very peaceful and the seedy mix adds flavor and crunch. The inspiration for this recipe came for the cookbook “Seven Spoons“. It is based on an Indian green bean subzi or vegetable dish. Feel free to use the black mustard seeds called for in the original recipe, or add some black mustard seeds to the seedy mix. I think that would be rather nice and I might do that next batch.

Green Beans with Spinach and Seedy Mix

  • 1 lb of green beans, trimmed and cut into 4 inch pieces if large
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 package of baby spinach or a large handful, washed and dried
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of seedy mix
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the green beans and blanch until bright green but still very crisp. For my beans that was 4 minutes.

    Green beans

    Green Beans – blanched

  2. Drain the beans in a collander and run cold water over to cool. Spread out on a fresh tea towel.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute gently for about 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Add the garlic and continue to saute, stirring, for another minute.
  5. Add the drained green beans to the pan and cook until tender, perhaps another 2 to 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat in the pan and add the spinach. Stir until wilted.
  7. Add the seedy mix plus salt and pepper to taste.

    Seedy Mix

    Seedy Mix

Transfer to a warm serving dish prior to serving, this is also good at room temperature.

Green beans with Spinach and Seedy Mix

Green beans with Spinach and Seedy Mix

Just in case anyone needs another suggestion for the seedy mix, I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday #67 to share with Angie and the other guests.

 

March in the Kitchen – Swiss Chard with Pickled Stems

March in the Kitchen – Swiss Chard with Pickled Stems

Not wasting any part of a vegetable would not have been a new idea for many of our parents or grandparents. It was simply considered good household management. My mother kept an empty milk carton in the freezer, in would go all the vegetable trimmings and any leftover bones. When it was full, she made stock or soup. She even used leftover salad, the next day it was popped into the blender with a can of cream-of-something soup, pureed, heated with a can of milk, and served to my dad for lunch. He thought it was delicious.

Today the hottest current trend in restaurant circles is using all parts of a vegetable (or animal). Sound familiar? Everything comes around again if you wait long enough. I am in full agreement with this new idea. Especially when it’s been grown in my garden from a seed. I’ve nurtured it from babyhood and I want to savor every part.

At the moment my garden is gifting me with armfulls of chard in many colors.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Can’t you just see the vitamins?

One of the most creative books on preserving in my cookbook library is “THE PRESERVATION KITCHEN The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux” by Paul Virant. On the fly-leaf of the book Alice Waters writes “In order to cook economically and deliciously all year round, it is essential to learn the art of preservation. This beautiful book inspires us to take the time to capture the flavors and textures of each harvest.” Amen.

Chard stems

Chard stems

Chard stems are rather forgettable when raw but are dynamic when pickled. They provide a sharp contrast to the chard leaves. This is a quick pickle, you can use it almost immediately after it is made although I find it lasts for at least a week in the fridge and you can certainly make it ahead.

Swiss Chard with Pickled Stems

  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds of Swiss chard
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the stems and pickling liquid, bring the vinegar, water, shallot, honey and salt to a simmer until the honey and salt have dissolved.
  2. Strip the leaves from the chard stems and cut off any tough ends. Dice the stems into 1/4 inch pieces.
  3. Add the stems to the pot. (If the brine doesn’t cover the stems it’s ok, they will soften in the brine.)
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the stems cool in the liquid. If not using immediately, transfer to a bowl or jar and chill.
Pickled chard stems

Chard Stems in Pickling Liquid

When you are ready to cook the chard

  1. Roughly chop the chard leaves
  2. In a large pot over high heat, warm the olive oil. Stir in the leaves and a pinch of salt and saute until they begin to wilt.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, add the pickled stems to the pot, then spoon in half the pickling liquid. Cook until the chard leaves are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Taste, add more pickling liquid if you like a sharper taste. Salt if needed.
    chard leaves

    Chopped chard leaves

    pickled chard stems

    Pickled chard stems

    I don’t have a picture of the finished dish because it was eaten too quickly. Gone, inhaled. Try this one, I think you will like it. Any leftover pickled stems can be used as a garnish for scrambled eggs or added to a salad.

 

February in the Kitchen – Broccoli Raab a la Jane Grigson

February in the Kitchen – Broccoli Raab a la Jane Grigson

Like my recent posting of grilled asparagus, this post is the basic method for cooking broccoli raab, also sometimes called broccoletti di rape, or rapini. It has multiple names, including rapine, rappi, rappje, turnip broccoli, tailcat, Italian or chicness broccoli, broccoli de rabe, Italtiona turnip, and turnip broccoli. Whew!

Broccoli raab is allotted only one recipe in “Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book” published in the 1970’s. Until recently it was fairly uncommon in both the UK and the US. I found her recipe under the section on turnips (and swedes?) with whom they are closely related. She recommended serving them cool with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, or hot in a similar way as the recipe below. I’m currently exploring the cookbook as part of an on-line cookbook book club (say that 10 times quickly!). You can read more posts inspired by the book on the website The Cookbook Guru.

Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book

This vegetable originates in the Mediterranean and China. It is a descendant from a wild herb and is found growing wild (as well as cultivated) in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Quebec and Ontario. Among the Chinese it is one of their most popular vegetables. Broccoli raab is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty, mustard like tops as for its multiple small florets.

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab is a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium. It tastes a bit like broccoli but is more pungent with a nutty flavor and a slightly bitter taste.

When buying it at the grocers look for bright green leaves that are crisp and upright, not yellowed or wilted. Unlike broccoli you do not need to peel the stems. If the stems are large, start by sautéing them for a few minutes before adding the leaves to the pan. That will allow them to soften a bit.

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab

How to Cook Broccoli Raab or Rapini

You can cook the leaves, stems and flower heads like broccoli (broil, stir-fry, braise, sauté, or steam). My preference is to blanch them briefly in boiling water (1-2 minutes) and then sauté with thinly sliced garlic and a chopped shallot, finishing with a couple of finely chopped anchovies or a teaspoon of anchovy paste seems to really fill out the umami flavor (a few dried red pepper flakes can also give a punch).

  1. Rinse and trim 1/4-inch from bottom of stems.
  2. Cut stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces and drop them into salted (optional), boiling water.
  3. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and remove with slotted spoon. Drain.
  4. Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.
  5. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a finely chopped shallot; turn the heat down to medium and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will turn bitter.
  6. Add the blanched broccoli raab/rapini to the skillet and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes until cooked. If the stalks were large, add and cook for a few minutes before adding the leaves.
  7. Optional – Add 2-3 finely chopped anchovies and a few dried red pepper flakes.
Broccoli Raab

Sauteed Broccoli Raab

You could also toss the finished broccoli raab with some pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan. It’s delicious that way.