Cooking With This Week's Box
|Photo from buildyourbite.com|
I hope your July is off to a great start. Things are really growing and we’re finding plenty to occupy our days! If you’ve been wondering where the garlic has been the past few weeks, rest assured it will be back in the box next week! We’re starting garlic harvest this week, so you’ll have a taste of fresh garlic very soon! We had hoped to dig potatoes this week, but they were just a little too small. The shop crew is getting the digger ready though as we do plan to harvest them this Saturday! Oh, I almost forgot to mention I picked a handful of SunOrange tomatoes last Sunday! That’s about all that were ready, but hopefully by the end of this week or early next week we’ll be seeing more color in that row!
So now that you have a glimpse into next week, lets draw our attention back to this week and all the tasty things in the box! When you open your box this week, you’re going to see collard greens covering the top layer. Check out this week’s article about Collard Greens (see below) to learn more about what to do with them. I also curated a list of recipes for you to consider trying, so be sure to check that out in the article below. In the meantime, I do have a feature recipe to share with you that is pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself! This recipe for Pasta with Bacony Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans (See Below) is a one-pot wonder that I found at Food52.com. This is one of those recipes to tuck away in the “Greens Recipes” file as it is easily adaptable to a wide variety of “greens” you’ll receive in your box over the season. I made it with one bunch of collard greens and the carrot tops from one bunch of carrots. The other cool thing about this recipe is you can watch a cooking video about how to make it over at Food52! Before I go on, I do want to mention that Food52 has an awesome collection of cooking videos on their website. I have watched some of their videos before, but never realized there was a whole page of archived videos covering a wide range of recipes and cooking techniques. I’d encourage you to go check it out, especially if you are relatively new to the cooking scene and are still building your skill set!
I am excited to share Thai Basil with you in this week’s box. I’ve been dreaming about making a pitcher of Thai Basil Lemonade. If you do not know what to do with Thai Basil and don’t have time to find a recipe, just make this lemonade, kick back and enjoy it. It is seriously so delicious. Throughout the list of recipe links this week I included a few other recipe ideas for dishes where Thai basil will shine. I hope you will find something fun to make with this tasty & unique basil!
We are having a run on salad cabbage this year and I’ve been loving having it in my refrigerator to turn into quick slaws and salads. The beauty of salad cabbage over lettuce is that you can put the salad totally together, dressing and all, without it getting all soggy. This is great for quick lunches and dinners. If you didn’t try last week’s recipe for Chicken, Cabbage & Snow Pea Grain Bowl with Coconut-Peanut Sauce, check it out and give it a try before the peas are done for the year! I also like this Vietnamese Chicken & Cabbage Salad that is fresh and light, the perfect summer meal!
Ok, I got a little weird with the cauliflower recipes this week. I couldn’t help myself, these recipes were so intriguing! If anyone tries Cauliflower Banana Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Icing or the Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks, please post in our Facebook Group and let us know how they are!
Speaking of the Facebook Group, you guys have been posting some really great meals and culinary creations! I love seeing what you’re making and selected a few of the recommended recipes for this week’s list. This is exactly what this group is for, to create community and share great ideas!
Ok, it’s time for me to sign off for this week. Get a stick of butter and some good salt ready for the New Potatoes coming next week! Eat well, be well, and don’t forget to have some fun with cooking!
Vegetable Feature: Collards
Collard greens are a rather humble, quiet vegetable that I would liken more to a staple of the working class than something eye-catching that shows up on a fancy restaurant menu such as squash blossoms or brightly colored heirloom tomatoes. Nonetheless, I have come to appreciate collard greens more over the past few years and am realizing there are some pretty tasty ways to enjoy collard greens! So, I am challenging myself this year to incorporate them into our meals in more ways. Hopefully you will come to appreciate them as well and will try some of the recipe suggestions I have included later in this article!
For starters, collard greens are part of the brassica’s family. The paddle-shaped leaves bear a resemblance to cabbage leaves, but in general they tend to be more flat and open, and the plants do not make a head. The leaves are thick and more durable and hearty than other greens, such as rainbow chard. However, they may be softened to a silky texture with heat, liquid, and time or by marinating or massaging them when they are raw with oil or vinaigrette. While many assume collards are strong in flavor, they are very mild flavored. Collard greens are available from late June through October or early November. The flavor of collards, as well as other vegetables in this family, changes and becomes sweeter once they’ve been through a few cold nights. Take note of the flavor now so you can compare it to the collard greens you may eat later in the fall. Collard greens are packed with nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E, K and B6 as well as riboflavin, calcium, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and potassium. With a powerhouse nutrient profile like this, we must find more ways to incorporate them into our diets!
In this country, many associate collard greens with southern cooking where this green is considered more of a regional staple ingredient. In southern cuisine, collards are often cooked with some sort of pork cut such as salt pork or a ham hock. The meat is the flavoring agent used to cook the greens, which are cooked for quite a while until they become dark olive green and very soft. The remaining liquid is called pot likker and is seldom discarded. Rather it is soaked up with a biscuit or cornbread, used to cook beans, or some may even drink it. Collard greens are thought to have originated in Asia, a descendant of a wild cabbage. This vegetable then spread to other parts of the world and likely made it to America by way of ship and European settlers. Collard greens are now eaten in many other parts of the world including India, Brazil and throughout Europe.
As mentioned earlier, collard greens have a thicker leaf which requires a longer cooking time to become soft and tender. While collards do require a little more cooking, you don’t have to cook them until they are super soft to enjoy them. You can also stir-fry or lightly sauté them just until bright green. They’ll have more texture to them and not be quite as soft but are still quite delicious. Because of the broad leaf, collards may also be steamed or blanched and then the leaf can be used as a wrap to hold a filling. This has become a popular use for collard leaves in the paleo community as an alternative to tortillas.
Collard greens obviously pair well with all salty, fatty pork products. They also go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, sesame, coconut and spices including coriander, cardamom, turmeric, and black pepper. Of course, they also pair well with black-eyed peas, white beans, black beans, tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and roasted peanuts. Use them raw in salads, cook them into flavorful bean soups, use them to make wraps or burritos, or cook them in more of a traditional southern way.
I perused the internet looking for some tasty, creative recipes using collard greens and found a few I think are worth mentioning. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration within this list or try this week’s featured recipe! Enjoy!
Pasta with Bacony Collards & Cannellini Beans
- Put the pasta in a small bowl and cover with 1 ½ cups of chicken stock or water, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t clumping together. Set aside to soak for at least 15 minutes.
- Add the bacon to a medium Dutch oven along with 2 Tbsp of water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat melts out o the bacon and the bacon becomes brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, smash, peel, and finely chop the garlic. Strip the collard leaves from the stems. Stack the leaves and cut lengthwise into four long sections. Stack the pieces and cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick strips. Strip the lacey greens from the coarse stems on the carrot tops. Finely chop the lacey greens and discard the stems. With the carrot tops and collards combined, you should have a total of about 6 cups of greens.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop the bacon from the Dutch oven and transfer to a plate, leaving the fat behind. Add the garlic and cook until tender and aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
- Add the collards and carrot tops, the remaining 2 ½ cups of chicken stock or water, and a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer. Add the beans and cook, partially covered, until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup and the greens are tender and silky, approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Taste the greens and add more salt and black pepper if needed. (You want it to be very well seasoned at this point, so the liquid and greens can season the pasta.)
- Add the pasta along with the soaking liquid and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, add the cheese, butter, and reserved bacon, and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes.
- Divide the greens & beans creation among 4 bowls and garnish with more cheese if desired.
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