Got Greens? ROAST THEM.
Move over, cabbage: It's time to yield the spotlight to the sprouts, leaves, and flowers of spring
I wrote this piece at my desk between bites of lunch: assorted tender leaves from my all-greens CSA, which are dropped off on our doorstep every Friday. I braised them quickly in a relatively mild tomatillo salsa I got from the farmer's market. Some spoonfuls were spicy with mustard greens, others peppery with arugula; the earthiness of turnip, the sweetness of spinach, and the bitterness of curly kale came through when least expected.
Oh, I know how lucky I am to live in the Pacific Northwest, where the season for tomatoes may be brief but excellent mushrooms and greens grow year-round. And to have salad, sprouts, and braising vegetables delivered fresh weekly? Sheer luxury. Springtime, however, is the great equalizer. Now everyone can enjoy the very best of both common and unusual greens, whether you get them from everyday supermarkets, international grocers, home gardens, or directly from farms.
This week we've got three featured recipes, a tutorial, and some links:
Rice and Rabe (transforming greens by massaging and roasting)
The New "New Joe's Special" (an old-school SF favorite gets a makeover)
Steamed Something on a Bed of Greens (the opposite of a hearty winter stew)
Take Sprouts for a Spin (getting the most out of nutritious microgreens)
More recipes that feature greens (from The Bittman Project Recipe Index)
Roasted Rabe and Rice
Makes 2 servings
Time: 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of rice
Part risotto, part paella, and yet somehow all about the greens, this recipe is another one of those cases where you can easily vary the main recipe depending on what you have and what you like. I used a whole grain black rice from Italy, called riso nero venere, named after Venus. To adjust the timing for white short-grain varieties, I've left you some notes inside the relevant steps. For the greens, I had young "rabes"—flowering stems—from broccoli, kale, mustard, and chard. And I roasted them harder than some of you would, leaving lots of crisp bits on top with a lightly cooked layer closer to the rice. The method works with any greens. You can also control the char-to-raw ratio by deciding how late in the game you pile them on top of the rice. And finally, to adjust to four servings, double the quantities and use a 12-inch skillet. For a crowd, quadruple the recipe and bake it in a metal 9- by 13-inch roasting pan.
8 ounces rabe or any other sturdy greens (whole, chopped, or torn)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small sweet onion (like Vidalia or Walla Walla) minced (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup unhulled short-grain rice (like nero or brown sweet)
1/4 cup dry white wine (or water)
2 to 3 cups water or stock
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 packed cup)
1. Heat the oven to 450°F. As you rinse the rabe or greens, trim and discard the toughest stems and tear or cut the leaves into large but manageable pieces. Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt. Massage them with your hands to rub in the oil and salt and soften them a bit. Let the greens sit while you get the rice going.
2. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When it's hot add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it's glossy and fragrant, about a minute. Pour in the wine or water, raise the heat a little so it bubbles away and deglazes the pan; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add 1 cup of stock or water, bring to a gentle boil, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so and adding enough water to keep the rice submerged and avoid sticking, until it begins to get tender but is still too firm to eat, 20 to 25 minutes (or 10 to 15 minutes for white rices).
4. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Add enough water or stock to submerge the rice so that you can't see the kernels, but you know they're just under the surface. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary. Return the liquid to a boil and turn off the heat. Pile the prepared greens in the center of the skillet and transfer to the oven. (Or wait 10 minutes to add the greens if you want them more on the raw side.)
5. Check the progress after 5 minutes for less browned greens, 10 minutes for charred in places. The rice should still be partially submerged in bubbling liquid and the rabe will shrinking. Lower the oven to 400°F and check again in 10 minutes; taste the rice. Add more water if the rice looks dry and isn't fully tender yet. If the rice isn't ready, re-check in another 10 minutes.
6. To form a little crust on the bottom, transfer the skillet to the stove over high heat and crisp the rice until it begins to smell like toast, being careful not to burn it. Sprinkle the greens with lots of pepper and toss if you'd like before serving.
— Recipe developed by Kerri Conan
The New “New Joe’s Special”
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 45 minutes, or faster with frozen spinach
For decades, nearly every restaurant in San Francisco with Joe in its name has served a hearty ground beef and spinach hash and calls it either “Joe’s Special” or “New Joe’s Special.” Our version sports Mark's not-so-new seesaw ratio, where you tip the balance of your diet more toward plants. Turns out the old classic is even better with spinach in the driver's seat. You can also use watercress, arugula, chard, or lacinato kale. Serve on top of whole wheat garlic toast, or toss with cooked grains or pasta, a little olive oil, and a dusting of Parmesan.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces ground beef sirloin or chuck
Salt and pepper
2 pounds spinach (frozen is fine)
1 pound fresh button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, or 1 teaspoon dried
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, garlic, and beef; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often to break up the meat, until the beef is well browned, 5 to 10 minutes. If you’re using fresh spinach, rinse it well, remove any thick stems, and roughly chop.
2. Remove the beef mixture from the pan with a slotted spoon and turn the heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon oil with the mushrooms and another sprinkling of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and oregano and transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the beef mixture.
3. Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally and chopping it up with a spatula, until the greens are wilted and almost dry again, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the meat mixture to the pan. Stir in the egg and cheese and cook until set, just a minute or 2 more. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve with more cheese at the table if you like.
— Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook