Recipes

Made in Temecula: Greens Two Ways

Inland Empire CSA Box

We are so excited!  It is Saturday and we are off to the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market to pick up our box from the Inland Empire CSA.  CSA stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture and the program is one of my new favorite things.  They offer several options for local folks who are interested in shopping, cooking and eating locally grown, organic produce.  For more info, check out their website: http://www.inlandempirecsa.com/.

Like many folks who are new to the CSA, I was somewhat stumped by what to do with the collard greens, kale, dandelion greens, etc. that I found in the box each week.  So, I called upon Chef Andrea of Ava James Catering http://www.avajamescatering.com/ for some advise and inspiration.

Rich in nutrients like Vitamins A, K, C and calcium, greens pack an amazing nutritional punch.  While some varieties can be described as somewhat bitter, proper preparation produces a brighter green or more smoky flavor profile.  Greens can be found year round and go great in winter soups, quiches and casseroles, but in the summer a simple preparation keeps things light and fresh.  For the greens purist, Chef Andrea and I submit the following:

Traditional Collard Greens

Traditional "Collard" Greens

Traditional "Collard" Greens. Photo by Corie Maue.

Ingredients

  • CSA greens, kale, etc.; chopped: yields 6 – 8 cups
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small CSA onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt

Directions

Remove the stems and center ribs from the collard greens and discard. Cut the greens into 1 – 2 inch squares.  We like a fairly rough chop as greens tend to cook down quite a bit in the process and too fine of a chop will cause them to disintegrate.  Greens should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves.  We like to chop the greens first and send them through the salad spinner several times.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet and cook the prosciutto for until brown and crispy and then set aside.  You can use bacon, ham or any other smoky meat, but we prefer the thinly sliced pancetta as it adds a salty crunch to the dish.   Add the oil and onion to the pan and cook until onions have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the collard greens and stir in the vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour. Add the chopped bacon to the pan, and season with salt.

We recommend serving these with any sort of family-style dinner.  Barbequed chicken or ribs are our first choices as this is a side dish that does not need a lot of attention while you are working the grill.

For those who love greens, but are looking for something less traditional, we offer an Asian twist.  On a side note, we had several in our dinner party that do not care for traditional greens and they enjoyed this variation very much.

Thai Greens

Thai Greens

Thai Greens. Photo by Corie Maue.

Ingredients

  • CSA greens, kale, etc.; chopped: yields 6 – 8 cups
  • 1/2 CSA white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 fresh red chilies, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or rice vinegar for a vegetarian dish)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk (12 – 14 oz)
  • 1 – 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons crushed peanuts
  • salt

Directions

We make the sauce first and set it aside.  Combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and coconut milk; wisk until completely incorporated.  We recommend using traditional coconut milk rather than “light” as it infuses the greens a richer flavor.

Chop the greens into 1 – 2 inch squares.  As we mentioned, we like a fairly rough chop as greens tend to cook down quite a bit in the process and too fine of a chop will cause them to disintegrate.  Make sure your greens are thoroughly washed before cooking.

Slice onions, Thai chilies and garlic.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, deep pot.  We prefer an enameled cast iron pot for its depth and even distribution of heat.  Sauté onions, garlic and chilies until slightly browned and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add greens to the pot and immediately add stock and coconut sauce.  Bring the pot to an easy boil and then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer greens for one hour.  Greens cook quickly, but the extra time spent simmering will mellow the flavors and infuse the greens with sweet, spicy goodness.  We suggest serving these with white or brown rice and Asian-style chicken or fish.

Once again, the Inland Empire CSA comes through for us with delicious, locally grown, organic produce.  The box this week included: greens, kale, white carrots, purple beans, new zealand spinach, purple radishes, tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, onions, nectarines, avocado, zucchini, squash, cucumber, beets, peaches, grapefruit, and oranges. Chef Andrea has grand ideas for the tomatillos, tomatoes, grapefruit and avocados, so keep an eye out for more delicious recipies soon.  If food is your love language, you will find a soul mate in the Inland Empire CSA.

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