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We will be at the Mississippi Farmers Market tomorrow (Saturday). I will have greens (collards, mustards and turnips) and green onions, like I had last week, and a few specialty greens too! I’m also bringing more samples of the mustard and collard green chips. Come try something a little different!
I’m always roasting vegetables–I like them that way because they always turn out sweet, and slightly caramelized and they’re really easy to make. I pulled a few turnips when I was leaving the garden yesterday evening–I’ll be cooking the greens today. I roasted the turnip roots with some purchased carrots and beets, and a handful of our multiplying onions. I usually just roast whatever combination of vegetables I have on hand. Hopefully, by the end of the spring season, I’ll be roasting our turnips with our own carrots and beets too.
1 pound small turnips, peeled and trimmed
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 pound beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (mine were large so I cut them up–if I’d had small ones I would’ve left them whole or simply halved them.)
2 bunches green onions, washed, cut into 2-3-inch pieces. Separate the white bottoms from the green tops
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt & Pepper
If I have it, I like to add sliced fennel to this mixture. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss the turnips, carrots, beets and the white parts of the onions with the oil. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer, and season with salt and pepper. Cook on lower rack of the oven, stirring occassionally, for about 30 minutes. Vegetables should be very close to done. Add green onion tops, and toss. Return to the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are well caramelized and soft. If you’re a little fussy, and don’t like the beets bleeding onto the other vegetables cook them separately and toss everything together at the last minute.
In college, I lived in a big old house that had been chopped into six apartments. I was surrounded by quirky and eccentric people there, and among them was a Chemistry student named Dan. Dan wasn’t usually very social. He was a serious student, and very busy pursuing his phD, but when he did entertain, he made a snack that his Korean girlfriend taught him to make. It was crispy fried pieces of seaweed, and it was a truly unique and memorable experience when he first made them for us. So when my friend Sheila recently suggested that I try a recipe for Kale chips, I thought about Dan and his fried seaweed, and I was inspired to experiment. She sent me a link for a recipe, but it was complicated (about 15-ingredients long), it required kale (which the deer ate out of my garden last fall), and it required that I set the oven on 105 degrees (which mine doesn’t do). But I have beautiful mustard, turnip and collard greens right now, so, I adapted the “kale chips” concept to what I had on hand, and proceeded with a much simpler recipe of my own. Actually, like so many things I cook, it’s more of a process than a recipe, and of course I use fresh, seasonal stuff, right from our garden. And while I won’t be trading these chips for my regular old southern greens any time soon, I’ll be making these again–they are a very crunchy, salty, satisfying snack. They might remind you of seaweed (think nori) too, but earthier. And they’d probably be really good with an ice cold beer. Here’s to Dan.
I picked about enough greens to fill a plastic grocery bag. I used mustards and collards, and they were both good. This would probably be equal to 2 or 3 bags of washed greens from the grocery store. It made about six cups of chips (they got “thin” but didn’t really shrink in width that much.) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Mustard and collard greens, washed, tough stems removed, and patted dry*
fine sea salt
ground red pepper (optional)
Toss the clean dry greens with a little oil (I used about a Tablespoon)–enough to coat them lightly. Spread them out on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt–but be careful. It’s easy to oversalt them. Bake on middle lower rack about 10 or 12 minutes, and stir, using a spatula to gently lift the leaves off the baking sheet. Some of the leaves will “bunch” but that’s ok. You might even have a few that are crispy and ready–remove them. Return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring occassionally, 20-25minutes total. Check them frequently and remove leaves as they become crispy. I sprinkled the finished chips with some of my serrano chili powder.
*Wash the greens in several changes of clean water. I put them in my sink, and swirl them around gently with my hands, and lift them, shaking the water off. I usually need to wash them three to five times before they are clean and grit free. When I dry greens I spread them out on a clean dish towel, and roll them up in the towel, patting them to remove the water from the surface. (see photo)
I explore a lot of traditional dishes that people close to me have cooked for generations. I love to dig for all the history behind those dishes and investigate all the nuances, quirks and variations on them. But sometimes I just need to get some food on the table. I put this together the other night after coming in from the garden late. I had a big pile of mustard greens, some green onions, and a very hungry, picky six year old who eats primarily noodles, bread and pizza. Being pressed for time, I opted for the noodles. Thinking that my beautiful mustard greens could do anything spinach could do, with a little more charisma, I scratched around my kitchen, and the internet a little bit, and came up with this dish. I borrowed the method for cooking the greens with the pasta from a website for bagged and cut greens (http://www.cutnclean.com/recipes/145.html). I might have even tried their recipe for pasta with mustard greens, except that I didn’t have any anchovies in the cabinet. But their method for cooking the pasta and greens together worked well, and I love a short cut! The remainder of the recipe is my own, based on what happened to be in my pantry and fridge. I liked it, and I expect that this experiment will inspire several new recipes, using our greens in ways that are new to me. I hope it inspires you too.
½ lb penne (or other short pasta)
1 bag or large bundle of mustard greens, washed, stems removed, torn into large pieces
3 large green onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp red pepper flakes (more or less, as you like)
1/3 cup raw almonds, chopped finely (I would’ve used pecans if I’d had them on hand…)
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add about a tablespoon of kosher salt to the water. Add the washed greens, and let them cook about 5 minutes. Add the pasta to the water, stir and cook according to the package directions. Drain, but don’t rinse the pasta. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and almonds, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are slightly browned and the almonds smell toasty (about 5 minutes). Add the pasta and greens to the pan, return briefly to the heat, stir, from the bottom, to combine all the ingredients and heat through, season with a little salt and pepper, add the lemon juice, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, add about ½ the cheese and stir. Top with the rest of the cheese to serve.