Sweet and Sour Greens

New York City cooks, and increasingly cooks across the country, are falling back in love with green markets after a long snowy winter.  Locovorism, to varying degrees, has increasingly shifted from a trend to an established philosophy among chefs and foodies.  Red Hook Community Farm, for me, presents an interesting new challenge.  As the CSA begins distributing weekly shares, the question becomes not “will I eat local and seasonal food this summer and fall” but “how will I use the variety of fresh seasonal produce that I pick up every week.”

For some people, shopping at a farmer’s market is an option.  For those of us who are committed to a local farm through a CSA, eating what’s fresh and what’s in season suddenly becomes the standard way of eating. It is a very new experience for me.  And I know that it might be a very new and challenging experience for some of you as well.  That’s why, every week, I’d like to share with you some of the ideas and recipes that I’ve put together for my CSA share every week. This week I’m making Sweet and Sour Greens. — Adam Gregory

Recipe after the jump.


Sweet and Sour Greens

This recipe highlights some of my favorite ingredients, plus it’s quite simple and versatile. If you’ve only eaten the beets from a bunch of beets, then you’re really using only half your beet share. Beet greens are relatively mild in flavor and work well with the chard.

Cooking time: Approximately 15 minutes

Serves: 4

 Ingredients:

  •  1 bunch chard
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 ½ tbs. + ½ tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced yellow, Spanish, red, or sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Assembling the greens:
  1.  Wash the chard and beet greens. The best and most efficient way to wash the greens is to fill either large bowl or container with cold water and add the greens.  Submerge and then move them around in the water to loosen any grit or dirt.  The dirt will naturally sink to the bottom of the bowl if you let the greens sit for a moment.  Do not overcrowd the greens; that may prevent the dirt from settling at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Once washed, lay the greens flat on top of each other.
  3. Working in bunches, roll the greens length wise and slice across the greens, cutting them into strips around ¼ inch wide.  This is known as chiffonade.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat and add the sliced onion.
  5. Season the onion with a bit of salt to allow it to slowly release its liquid during cooking and prevent burning.
  6. Once the onion is soft, add the garlic and raisins and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the garlic browns slightly.
  7. Add the 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar to the pot to delgaze it.  Add the 2 teaspoons of honey and reduce the liquid in the pot until it is almost dry.  This will help concentrate the flavor and bring out more sweetness in the balsamic vinegar.
  8. Add the greens to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Stir to combine with the onion-garlic-raisin mixture.
  10. Add the chicken broth and cook over medium low heat for around 10 minutes until the greens are softened. Contrary to many traditional recipes, most leafy greens do not need to be cooked for a lengthy time.  Short cooking times for many greens retain the most flavor and texture.
  11. Taste the greens for seasoning at this point.  You’ll probably notice that they taste neither particularly sweet nor sour.  This is because the greens will release liquid while cooking.  You could keep cooking the greens at this point to try and reduce the liquid while concentrating the flavor, but they will continue to release liquid and would be overcooked by the time you had reduced the liquid enough.  However, there is a trick.  With a slotted spoon, remove the green mixture from the pot.  Let each spoonful drain so that most of the liquid remains in the pot.  Now, raise the heat, add the additional ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and reduce the liquid in the pot until you have around 2-3 tbs remaining.
  12. The easiest way to tell whether you’ve reduced the liquid enough is to watch the bubbles form as the liquid reduces.  As it becomes more concentrated, the bubbles increase in number and size.  Once the bubbles start to rapidly cover the surface of the liquid and increase in size, remove it from the heat and check to see if you have only a little liquid left.  If you do, you’ve probably reduced it enough.
  13. Add the greens mixture back to the pot, toss to coat, and serve.  It should have a much stronger and richer flavor from the reduced cooking liquid without being overcooked.
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