Creamed, Steamed and Marinated

Turnip Green Tart
Filling the Turnip Green Tarte

In my quest for more magnesium in my diet, without using a supplemental pill, I have turned my attention to the dark leafy greens of winter. I am a fan of the hearty greens year-round. Seasonably speaking and eating, these are put into the cold weather crop variety. Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Turnip Greens to name a few. These can all be eaten raw, but in all honesty, they are a tougher green. Rather than the “rabbit-type nibble” one may use for tender lettuce, greens of the hearty type can render a “cow-cud chewing method”. Although effective, no one is going to want to join you at the table while you’re chewing your cud so to speak. As a firm believer that meals should not be eaten alone, these greens are best eaten prepared in one way or another.

I mentioned magnesium above, it’s a rather important mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body and it’s estimated 90% of the population is deficient. I have found that when I don’t have enough my headaches turn to migraines  and I get both more often. Low magnesium can also result in morning sickness for expecting mamas. Magnesium affects more than just that. Low magnesium cause or increase anxiety and depression, cause muscle cramps, high blood pressure, hormone imbalances and more.

A side note Soapbox: All these farmers that are using chemical fertilizer are not helping the situation. Chemical fertilizer depletes the soil of many naturally occurring minerals causing the food grown in them to be less nutritious. God bless them for growing food for the masses but large scale is not always the answer. For more on soil depletion dig into how composting works and the effects of chemical fertilizer on the naturally occurring organisms do the dirty work of breaking down that leaf pile into black gold that contains multitude of nutrition when used to grow your vegetables. Done.

Turnip Greens Tarte
Turnip Greens Tarte
Turnip Green Tarte
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My version of a traditional Croatian Pie. This works just as well with Chard too.
Turnip Green Tarte
Print Recipe
My version of a traditional Croatian Pie. This works just as well with Chard too.
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 cup Whole Wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2/3 cup Lard
  • 1 each Egg
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp Cold Water
Filling
  • 4 cup Greens (Chard, Turnip or both) chopped
  • 3 each Garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
Crust
  1. In a bread bowl combine the flour and salt
  2. Add the lard and mix with stiff fingers until it resembles heavy corn meal.
  3. In a small bowl combine the egg, vinegar and 3 tbsp. of water.
  4. Add the liquid to the flour and mix again just until it holds together. (an additional tablespoon of water may be needed.)
  5. Divide the dough into two ball and roll each on a lightly floured surface a little thicker than a thin pie crust. (1/3-1/4 in maybe?) -One for the bottom crust and one for the top.
Filling
  1. Toss everything in a bowl just until the greens are evenly coated with oil.
  2. Place the filling on the bottom crust and carefully cover with the top crust. Roll the edges and pinch together.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 min or until lightly browned.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little extra minced garlic clove
Recipe Notes

**That is the traditional preparation. I like it, my family finds it a little boring. To spice it up for them I add some browned pork sausage, sautéed mushrooms  and chevre cheese.**

 

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Creamed Brussels Sprouts
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This recipe is my favorite with steamed Brussels Sprouts. Spinach can be substituted for part or all the sprouts.
Creamed Brussels Sprouts
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This recipe is my favorite with steamed Brussels Sprouts. Spinach can be substituted for part or all the sprouts.
Ingredients
  • 12 oz Brussels Sprouts, quartered or 2 bunches of Fresh Spinach
  • 1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1 each Garlic clove minced
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together in a baking dish.
  2. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes with sprouts (or 20 with spinach).
  3. Top with a little extra parmesan cheese.
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Balsamic Kale Salad
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If this is left to marinade for 12-24 hours the "cud-chewing" aspect is reduced considerably.
Balsamic Kale Salad
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If this is left to marinade for 12-24 hours the "cud-chewing" aspect is reduced considerably.
Ingredients
Salad
  • Kale roughly chopped
  • 1 each Apple roughly chopped
  • 1 handful Toasted Pecans
  • 1/2 handful Dried Cranberries
Dressing
  • 1 each Garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Spicy Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 each Juice from Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
Dressing
  1. Place everything but the Oil in a blender or food processor. Process until the garlic is super finely minced.
  2. While machine is running slowly stream in the oil.
Assembly
  1. Toss the salad pieces with the dressing (enough to lightly coat everything, it doesn't need to swim) and let it sit in the fridge over night.
  2. Top with some crumbled blue cheese before serving.
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Vegetable Gardening 101: Leafy Greens

I know “Leafy Greens” is a pretty wide subject but it is easily broken down into a couple categories and then a few sub categories. The easiest categories to divide are Non-Brassicas and Brassicas. We will talk about Brassicas later.

LettuceNon-Brassicas can then be sub divided, loosely, into Chicories, such as Endive, Escarole, and Radicchio, Lettuces including Dandelions, Romaine, and Butterhead, and Goosefoot Greens like Swiss Chard, Amaranth, Spinach and Beat Greens. There are a couple other sub categories that I am not too familiar with that would include edible chrysanthemum and some valerian; rather than give you false information I will skip these for now.

Chicories just might be my favorite salad making greens, the different flavor and textures are great! Chicory can be divided again into a few categories Asparagus Chicory(not to be confused with Asparagus), Root Chicory, used to make a coffee like drink, Witloof Chicory that is grown for large roots, then forced to grown tops in cool dark winters, and Leafy Chicory, my favorite salad greens.

Since I am most familiar with Escarole, Endive, and Radicchio, that’s what you get to hear about today.

Endive can be harvested young although it takes about 95 days to reach full maturity. It can be a little bitter, but that is a good thing. The bitter taste is actually the vitamins in the leaves. To reduce the bitterness (and nutrition) you can blanch endive by carefully tying the outer leaves up around the center leaves with twine. Do this when the plant is dry or you could end up with rotting plants (compost, yay!). After about 2 weeks check the plants, the center leaves will be light green to white. If you check after 2 weeks you could end up with rotting plants again.

Endive can be planted in the early spring as it is pretty frost hardy. You will want to give the plants plenty of space; 12-18 inches between. The thinnings can be eaten as micro-greens in salad. Endive is a cool weather crop and will be very prone to bolt once it gets hot. You can however plant your spring crop and then plant a second crop close to fall. To harvest the greens you cut the greens about two inches above the root. The flavor is best after a frost. Endive will keep well in a root cellar too. (Better than most greens anyways) Endive can be eaten raw in salads or the darker leaves can be sautéed too.

Escarole has the same guidelines as Endive. The leaves are not a curly as Endive, they are more broad and wavy rather.

Radicchio again the same guidelines as the previous however, this needs the cool fall weather to change color from green to shades of red. The shape will also change much closer to harvest as well.

There are a few different varieties of all of theses, choose one that will best suit your growing seasons.

The Lettuces are another close group with a ton of variety too. The basic groups of lettuce go as follows; Butterhead, Celtuce, Crisphead, Loose Leaf and Romaine.

Swiss ChardThe Butterhead is a good medium lettuce. It’s not a tight head like Crisphead lettuces, yet it forms a loose head, tighter than Loose Leaf. These are very easy to grow and as most greens in this family, like the cooler temps.
Celtuce, I would put in the Celery family rather than here. Basically its the little bit of leaves at the top of the celery plant.
Crisphead lettuce is the most boring of all to me. I really don’t care for much about it. This is the very popular Iceberg Lettuce that is a cheap lettuce that lasts a while, and transports well, which is why it’s a popular choice for a lot of restaurants.
Romaine has sturdy leaves that grow straight up in a tight bunch rather than curling to form a round head.
Loose Leaf lettuces are the least cold hardy, but will preform the better than the rest in warm weather.

Lettuces prefer very well worked and nutritious soil. Their roots don’t work hard to look for nutrients, so if it’s not readily available you will have pretty weak lettuce. Lettuce will bolt when it gets hot out, so planting early will give you the best yield before the summer heat. Thin as the plants get bigger, the thinnings make great salads too!
To save lettuce seeds allow a plant or two to bolt. You will have a tall stalk that can grow up to 5 feet tall. At the top will form flowers and then seeds. Allow the flowers to mature and die. Then carefully cut to top of the stalk and allow to dry. A careful shake in a paper bag will drop the seeds.

DandelionDandelions are not only one of my favorite flowers (not kidding) and the start of little tiff’s because my husband finds them to a noxious weed (as most do) and wants them gone. We finally came to a compromise, he can only kill the ones in the yard, if they are in  my flower bed they get to live. Dandelion leaves are great in salad! In fact they are classified as a part of the Lettuce family. I will write more about all the wonderful things that dandelions can do, (including make wine) a little later (done! found here).

Goosefoot greens are slightly new to me. I grew my first crop of Amaranth last year. It did wonderful; about 6 feet tall or more! These plants do very well in hot weather with very fertile soil. The leaves can be eaten as steamed or sautéed vegetables and the seeds can be carefully collected by placing a paper bad over the rope-like flowers and giving it a gently shake. Amaranth seeds can be eaten as a grain or made like a porridge.
Beet Greens are great especially if you only have so much space in your garden; you can eat the beet greens and skip planting Swiss Chard!.( or plant both if you like).

SpinachSpinach is planted the same as the others (12inches apart, 18 inch rows) and will do good in partial shade. When the days get long and hot the spinach will be quick to bolt. When this happens the leaves will soon get tough and bitter, the plant will also quit producing leaves. You can pull the plants and use the space to plant another crop. I sometimes plant green beans after I pull the spinach as the beans  will quickly “catch up” in the summer heat. Spinach is also slower to germinate so planting a quick growing plant such as radishes in the same row will give you yet another crop in the same space and will help mark your row until the spinach is up. When you plant in succession like this be sure you are getting enough compost in your soil so the nutrients don’t get depleted.

Spinach is one of the few greens in this family that can be stored at length when quickly blanched and frozen.

Swiss Chard is a great addition to a garden. I like to plant mine in a flower bed. I plant a rainbow variety, which gives me wonderful green leaves with brightly colored stems of yellow, pink, red and orange. Chard can be planted much closer together compared to others and will produce all summer long. I like to harvest once the leaves get about 6 inches tall. I cut the stems just above the ground and the plant continues to produce.

Previous Article: Alliums- The Onions
Next Article: Brassicas- More Greens

Classic Creamed Spinach
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Classic Creamed Spinach
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Ingredients
  • 2 lbs Fresh Spinach Leaves
  • 1/3 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Garlic
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large pot bring water to a boil.
  2. Toss the spinach into the water, pushing the leaves under.
  3. Allow to cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Quickly strain the spinach from the water and run under cool water until the spinach is no longer warm to the touch.
  5. Carefully squeeze the remaining water out of the spinach.
  6. In a sauce pan place the garlic, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil and allow the cream to thicken.
  7. Add the spinach and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

**Variation: Before adding the cream to the sauce pan add 1/3 c Dry White Wine. Sauté the garlic with the wine. Then add the salt, pepper and cream.

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Swiss Chard with Shallots and Pancetta
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Swiss Chard with Shallots and Pancetta
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Ingredients
  • 1 lb Fresh Swiss Chard chopped
  • 3 tsp Butter
  • 2 each Garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tbsp Shallots chopped
  • 4 oz Pancetta bacon will work too
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Sauté the garlic and shallots in the butter until the shallots begin to become translucent.
  2. Add the Pancetta and sauté just until warm.
  3. Add the Chard, cook just long enough to warm and wilt.
  4. Serve warm.
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