Sauteed Collard Greens

Like classic sauteed green beans are so simple and tasty, they hardly need explaining, or a recipe. But I include this because, well, some people just like recipes. This is for you, buckaroos!

To learn more about prepping collard greens, view this Le Chou Fou WTF, CSA? post.

This version is, effectively, the same as the green beans version linked above. It is no less inspired by the southern U.S. than the other; as noted in the previous recipe, a sauté of the freshest greens you can find, beans or leaves, in a little bit of hog fat, pretty much screams classic southern cooking. But I also suggest some variations. In fact, classic sauteed greens also pair up beautifully with plant-based “bacons”, a variety of which are featured in these vegan bacon recipes from Clean Eating. Just note the slightly different technique.

And now, a step by step walk through, or, if you prefer, jump to the recipe.

  1. Pull the leaves of the collards away from the stems, or at least trim the stems way down.sauteed collard greens prior to cooking
  2. Roll up the collard leaves and slice thinly. If desired, cut the rolled slices in smaller pieces.chopped sauteed collard greens
  3. If using bacon, place 1 slice for every two handfuls of beans in a cold sauté pan over medium high heat; this ensures that the bacon browns evenly, and doesn’t start sizzling and burning immediately. If not using bacon, heat the pan, then add about 1 tablespoon of oil—olive, canola, or coconut—for every 4-8 ounces of greens. I tend to prefer less oil, but some folks like their greens pretty oiled up. Your preference.
  4. If using bacon, once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan. Either way, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onions, shallots, or scallions to the hot fat and stir for about a minute. Then add the sliced and/or chopped greens, tossing to coat with oil.
  5. After 4-5 minutes of stirring and cooking the greens and onions, add 1 tablespoon of water or broth at a time; once again, you don’t need much, but if you want them a little softer and/or soupier, add more liquid. Cover the pan tightly and let steam approx 2-3 minutes. When you remove the lid, the greens should be brilliant green; taste to make sure the texture is as you like.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar if you like. Stir for about 1 minute; depending on the quality of the vinegar, it may get a little syrupy.
  7. Top with the cut-up bacon, or your choice of vegan bacon.sauteed collard greensAll purpose and wonderful, these greens can really be served on the side of just about any dish, in any season.

 

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Classic Sauteed Collard

Greens Recipe

 

green-beans

WTF, CSA? Green Beans

Here’s the thing with fresh green beans: You can’t buy just a handful.

green-beans-bagged

These are roughly 2 pound bags that I recently saw at Whole Foods. Whole Foods’ idea is that you will buy this entire bag, no questions asked. And of course, you can just remove what you want—even just a handful—with impunity.

But optimally, your idea should be to avoid bagged green beans altogether, because frankly, you have no idea what could be in there.  You can also see how lumpy those beans are, which means: tough. You’ll be much happier with your purchase if you seek out this type of display. Hey, wait a sec! Those aren’t cucumbers! LOL, Larry.

green-beans-in-the-store

You can see that many of the stems are still intact, a sign of freshness. Turn a bag inside out over your hand and grab what you need. (Do wash these when you get home, because people have been running their hands through those things All Day.)

Point being, when green beans rain, they pour. Your CSA box may be fair to bursting with beans one day. What’s a cook to do?

Well, first off, snap off those stems. This, I find, is the most satisfying green bean experience. The stems snap off with a nice snappy pop; maybe even the teeniest bit of water pops out when they’re super fresh.

green-beans-snapped

You can also cut them, which is speedy. You just line ’em up, chop one set of tips, then line them back up the other way and repeat. This works if your green beans are maybe a little less fresh; again, not optimal, but still edible. Bonus: Beans make a great first cutting project for a beginning cook. You can practice your monkey claw, and complete the job in 2 quick cuts per pile of beans.

Just as with all vegetables, you have a few options—though limited somewhat by the ways of the bean. Prior to any veggie recommendations, it’s important to note that acid turns your beautiful bright green beans a downright fug olive color. Add acid, should you need it, to any preparation of green beans—particularly raw, steamed, or blanched—at the very last minute, and the dish will look fine for the next half hour or so. But leftovers are likely to look a bit sad. More on that below.

Green Beans: Raw

ONLY if you have just picked them out of the garden, and if they are the super skinny haricot vert variety (the ones so thin they look like needles). Even so, they don’t call ’em beans for nothin’. While green beans are actually a flower, they’re a little starchy. A quick dunk in a pot of boiling salted water or a light steaming preserves their bright jade color as it brings out the fresh green flavor, and makes them a little easier to digest as well.

If you do opt for raw, just rinse them well and snap off the ends. If you have to cut off the ends because they’re not snapping cleanly, they’re not fresh enough, in my book, to go on the plate without a little further cooking.

Green Beans: Steamed or Blanched

These methods are interchangeable and provide serious versatility. To steam, put your steamer basket filled with green beans in a pot with an inch or so boiling water. Cover the pot, steam 1-2 minutes, then refresh with cold water.

green-beans-steamed

To blanch, simply dump the beans in a big amount of boiling salted water. More water works great because you want to cook the beans quickly, 1-2 minutes; in a big pot, the water comes back to the boil almost immediately. Pour into a colander and refresh with cold water so the beans don’t continue to cook.

You can pre-cook all your beans either of these ways, and then have them on hand for salads and other dishes throughout the week.

Beans love fresh herbs. Dill and mint get called up the most often, but pretty much any, in any combination work. This bean salad link provides step by step instructions and an actual, adaptable recipe if you like precise amounts.

Feel free add some butter or a tasty oil to your barely cooked green beans, because Fat = Yum. Fresh steamed or blanched beans with butter, salt and pepper are completely awesome.

Green Beans: The Steam Sauté

Green beans love some fat. Stir-fry or saute them raw, then add some liquid for a brief steaming. Alternatively, steam or blanch the beans before steaming. If raw, you may want to consider the so-called French cut, i.e., slicing them lengthwise.

green-beans-julienned

It’s a pain in the ass, quite frankly, but it does serve its purpose; it was invented to help out some of the bigger and consequently tougher beans that often get to market.

As for optimal pairings: Native to the Americas, green beans at this point in time are part of nearly every world cuisine, and consequently go with all sorts of things, like….cherries!

green-beans-cherries

In case you think that’s weird, there’s also corn and some feta cheese added to the mix. I swear, it worked beautifully.

green-beans-greekish-salad

They’re wonderful in a big Asian-inspired stir-fry. I adapted this Mee Goreng recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi barely at all (other than to not be tremendously slavish about amounts, and swapping the sprouts for radishes and the iceberg for radish greens, because I had them on hand).

green-beans-mee-goreng

And, with apologies to non-meat-eating friends and readers, I must report that green beans and bacon are quite wonderful, as this take on a classic southern recipe can attest. (The recipe does provide links to vegan “bacon” alternatives, so fear not.)

Do know that, since acid of some kind is usually added to a saute—lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato—leftovers will turn that dismal color. Additionally, while there are many, many recipes I’ve come across that advocate adding green beans to a long-simmering braise of other vegetables and protein, my personal preference is to keep them and crispy and green as possible. If you dig eating olive drab, go for it, and report back.

Green Beans: Roasted

Green beans can be roasted or grilled, though frankly this prep feels a little gimmicky to me. As always, you do you. The basic vegetable roasting techniques apply. Just toss in oil with salt and herbs. Then roast for a brief period, say 5-8 minutes before giving a good stir, followed by an additional 5-8 minutes.

Green Beans: A Few Cool Options

Having steamed and/or blanched green beans on hand benefits your kitchen throughout the week. You can add them to salads, either green or grain based. You can toss them in a soup for color at the last second, stir them into pasta or rice dishes, and dip them in hummus. Chopped up and mixed with a cooked grain—quinoa, barley, a plump short-grain rice—you can then form them into patties and make cute little cakes; I’m currently experimenting with an old Bert Greene recipe to this effect and will post when I’m happy with it.

Best of all, you can either dip into them through the week—they’ll keep nicely in your produce drawer as long as they don’t get wet, for several days—or steam off the whole bunch the day you get them and just throw in a little bean confetti as the inspiration strikes. Chomp away, mes amis.

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classic-green-beans-recipe

Classic Sautéed Green Beans

Classic sauteed green beans are so simple and tasty, they hardly need explaining, or a recipe. But I include this because once in a while, you need a little bit of a jog.

To learn more about buying and prepping green beans, view this Le Chou Fou WTF, CSA? post.

This version was inspired by a recipe in Time-Life’s Foods of the World series, American Cooking: Southern Style. Indeed, a sauté of the freshest greens you can find, beans or leaves, in a little bit of hog fat, pretty much screams classic southern cooking. But I also suggest some variations. In fact, classic sauteed green beans also pair up beautifully with plant-based “bacons”, a variety of which are featured in these vegan bacon recipes from Clean Eating. Just note the slightly different technique.

And now, a step by step walk through, or, if you prefer, jump to the recipe.

  1. Snap or trim the stems off your beans. A generous handful makes a great serving size. Chop some kind of onion, 1-2 tablespoons for each handful of beans.classic-green-beans-recipe
  2. If using bacon, place 1 slice for every two handfuls of beans in a cold sauté pan over medium high heat; this ensures that the bacon browns evenly, and doesn’t start sizzling and burning immediately. If not, heat the pan, then add about 1 tablespoon of oil—olive, canola, or coconut—for every 2 handfuls of beans.
  3. If using bacon, once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan. Either way, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onions, shallots, or scallions to the hot fat and stir for about a minute. Then add the green beans, tossing to coat with oil.classic-green-beans-recipe
  4. After 1-2 minutes of cooking the green beans and onions, add 1 tablespoon of water or broth for every 2 handfuls of beans. Cover the pan tightly and let steam approx 2-3 minutes. When you remove the lid, the beans should be bright green, and crispy but not starchy tasting.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for every 2 handfuls of beans. Stir for about 1 minute; depending on the quality of the vinegar, it may get a little syrupy.
  6. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs for each handful of beans; I used mint, but dill, tarragon, and parsley are all very fine choices. Top with the cut-up bacon, or your choice of vegan bacon.

It is worth noting that acid, such as in the balsamic vinegar, will turn the beans a dull olive color over time; they still taste fine, but keep this in mind, preferably only adding the balsamic within 15 minutes of serving.

These make a truly lovely dinner with just corn on the cob and maybe some sweet potato fries on the side. Enjoy.

classic-green-beans-recipe

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Classic Sauteed Green Beans Recipe

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I am not one to go shrieking, “Carbs mean carnage!!,” as the unstable duck in the movie Babe does about Christmas. As I’ve noted before, I love carbs. So I’m mildly troubled to report that, since embarking on an ostensibly healthier and lower carb overall eating strategy, I don’t crave them. In fact, the idea of eating a pizza crust, once music to my taste buds, now strikes a less harmonious note. The thought of a full-blown pizza crust, most nights, just sounds heavy and unappealing. For those nights, I give you this cauliflower pizza crust.

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

It turned out well, even with no cheese on hand. It’s not entirely vegan; I used an egg bc I was too lazy to make a flax version. But there’s zero gluten or dairy, and the carb count is low. You can pile on vegetables like there’s no tomorrow—even as a bold, glorious, unbloated tomorrow awaits you because you’re all gluten-free and healthy.

Keep reading for step by step instructions; or just jump directly to the recipe.

Tip Number 1: Don’t buy that crumbled up cauliflower rice because it’s ridiculously expensive, and, to quote Harvey Milk, you don’t know where it’s been. Just cut up half a cauliflower in even size pieces, about an inch or two sized cubes, then throw it in your food processor and chop, chop, chop your troubles away.

Cauliflower pizza crust starts with crumbling the cauliflower in the food processor

If your food processor is like mine, i.e., old as hell, get out the noise-cancelling headphones; chopping anything, especially cauliflower, sounds like a Mad Max death rally, though blessedly, without Mel Gibson screaming about how sane he is. I just dated myself, because nobody who’s not in their Golden Years even knows who Mr. Gibson is. Meanwhile, everyone knows that the greatest Mad Max of All Time is Charlize Theron.

Charlize Theron is THE greatest Mad Max ever.

Anyway, now you have a big old bowl of cauliflower crumbles. Many a recipe, either for cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza crust, provides the mystifying instruction to boil the rice, then squeeze out the water. People, don’t add water to food. Just don’t. I mean, I’m sure there will come a time where I’ll say, yo, add some water to those ingredients. But I can’t imagine the circumstances.

However, you gotta do something to soften up the cauliflower crumbles, and as usual, I advocate roasting. Add some olive or grapeseed oil to the bowl, just about a tablespoon, and some salt, pepper, and spices. I always like harissa (the powdered kind), but a Mexican or Italian blend will work just fine. Evenly distribute the oil and spices, spread the cauliflower out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes in a 400º oven.

Let the roasted crumbles cool about 10 minutes; leave the oven on. Then mix them in the bowl with an egg. A flax egg will probably work if you’re vegan, but I haven’t tested it, so proceed at your own risk. A nice handful of grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese would add crispness and savory flavor. But you might not have cheese on hand, or you might not be a dairy person, in which case you can do what I did for this version: Add a couple of heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Also, some kind of bread crumb, about 1/4 cup for a medium-sized bowl of cauliflower. I used garbanzo crumbs; I’m not quite sure what they are (grated garbanzo beans? toasted garbanzo flour?), but they stood in nicely. Use panko if you want some gluten in your life, a desire for which I will never, ever scold you.

Cauliflower pizza crust, after roasting the cauliflower and adding to other ingredients

Now, scrape the mix onto the baking sheet.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready to rollThen take a piece of wax paper or parchment and press the mixture into an even circle; in a pinch, you can use gloves or your hands, but it’s kinda sticky, so if you use some type of paper, it’s easier and less messy.

Cauliflower pizza crust rolled out and ready to cookYou want it to end up about 10-12 inches in diameter. Remove what you used to push it down, then pop it in the oven about 12-15 minutes. At the bottom, you can see that one little piece of cauliflower that was all, “You can’t crumble me!” Feisty little vegetable.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready for toppings like roasted veggies.

The chickpea crumbles and nutritional yeast imparted a nice saffron-ish color that you’d normally get from cheese. But here’s something you need to be really clear on: If you expect a cauliflower pizza crust to be an adequate sub for regular pizza crust, you will be sad. You can’t rip into a cauliflower pizza crust. You don’t sink your teeth  and tear each bite in that satisfying “I’m a Pizza Pig! Oink! Oink!” way that you can with even a $5 Hot and Ready from Little Caesar’s.

But you can have a nice light alternative that’s more fun than just eating a sturdy, healthy heap o’ roasted vegetables. I piled mine high with an oddball mix of roasted fennel, radicchio, and—yes, this is eccentric—strawberries added for just a minute at the end. Roasted strawberries taste strange and wonderful, but do not overcook them, or you will have some bizarre pale red mush on your plate. Just add them to your pan at literally the last minute if you’re feeling dangerous, as Belle and Sebastian used to say. A few pistachios on top added crunch. #weirdbutgood

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust: The Recipe

how to make A genius Irish staple for using up leftover mashed potatoes and greens—or better yet, make them both fresh. Perfect comfort food, just in time for St. Patrick's.

Colcannon: Comfy Irish Leftovers

Whether under a filter of soft gray light provided by the clouds, in the frequent rain, or the rare and cherished sunshine, Ireland is stunningly, unforgettably green. So it’s only right that the color, in some form or other, should sparkle up that most Irish mainstay, the potato. Hello, colcannon.colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine Continue reading for the step by step without a recipe. For exact amounts, jump to recipe.

Colcannon is a homey dish, made to use up leftovers and make plain old mashed potatoes a little more interesting. Green cabbage is the classic addition, but I like it mixed with kale; more colorful, more nutritious, and just plain delish. Purists might balk at the addition, but hell with ’em.

The dish is super easy. All you need is mashed potatoes, preferably freshly made, but leftovers will do in a pinch. To make mashed potatoes, cube them, with or without the skin, while you bring water to a boil. Drop them into the boiling water with some salt, about a tablespoon is good. (Don’t use your good expensive salt for this; keep some pourable salt on hand just to add to boiling water.) Boil about 10 minutes, testing with a fork. You should be able to stab the cube without much resistance, but it should still stay on the fork. Unless, of course, you like your mashed potatoes on the mushy side.

potatoes boiled for colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine

Meanwhile, saute up an onion with some greens; honestly, whatever you have in the fridge is fine.

greens for colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine

When the potatoes are done, drain them, then put back in the pot on the warm (but turned off) stove with the lid on. This dries them out nicely. Smash them, or, my preference, run them through a ricer; it produces a great mealy texture that’s not too fine. It also removes some, but not all of the skins.

potatoes riced for colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine

Add in butter, sour cream, yogurt, even cream cheese. If you don’t do dairy, you’ll want a plant-based yogurt and you can do oil if you don’t want to do that fake butter for vegans.

Stir in the greens and a mess of chopped herbs—dill and parsley are favorites, chives and tarragon are also wonderful—and you’re good to go.

potatoes and greens together for colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine

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Colcannon: The Recipe

This recipe says that it makes enough for 2, because the widget requires that I include that info. Let me amend that to “2 really gigantic portions” because I like to just eat these on their own. But if you’re doing sides, you’ll have a fair amount.

colcannon, creative leftovers inspired by Irish cuisine

roasted cabbage from Le Chou Fou

Roasted Cabbage

I do love my cabbage, which is obvious if you have a little high school French. (And if you haven’t, “chou” means cabbage and “fou” means crazy). It’s a simple, salt-of-the-earth veggie that grows absolutely everywhere. I predict it will soon overtake Brussels sprouts as the Next Big Veggie. And, as far as preparations go, roasted cabbage raises the ante considerably from the terrifying boiled cabbage of yore.

Jump to recipe.

four veggies, ready for roasting

Like all the other roasted veggies this week—kale, cauliflower, and carrots—roasted cabbage is ridiculously easy. Unlike them, cabbage takes on a decadent quality. Roasting brings out the cabbage’s sweetness. The fat that you use makes every bite feel sumptuous. The seasonings you choose up the ante a little more, though just salt and pepper work beautifully, too. I loved the seasonings in this recent Cooking Light recipe , though I did find working with softened butter to be a challenge. I recommend melting half the amount of butter, mixing with an equal amount of oil, then tossing the seasonings directly on top. It’s a lovely combo.

Also departing from most other vegetables, cabbage needs a little bit of extra love. Cut it in wedges; depending on the size of your cabbage, 4-6 is a good number per half of cabbage. As you can see from the photos here, I only had about a 1/4 wedge on hand, so I just cut it in 3 pieces. But don’t toss in the oil and spices with wild abandon. Rather, gently turn the cabbage in the fat. For extra-decadence, melt a little butter with the oil; cabbage and butter, like cabbage and pork, make each other very, very happy. A little sugar (I like coconut) adds some nice carmelization and a little more sweetness.

Roasted Cabbage prior to roasting

Then, place the wedges on a cookie sheet, and roast as usual. At the 20-minute mark, turn the cabbage carefully with a spatula. If you can keep the wedges at least somewhat intact, they work out to be excellently-sized portions. And even if they fall apart, you can still see the demarcation lines pretty clearly.

roasted cabbage from Le Chou Fou

Roasted Cabbage: The Recipe