Food

Going Green

A chef with a penchant for produce

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I grew beets for years without realizing the greens atop the blood-red root vegetable could be cooked and consumed, and were in fact rich with vitamins C, A, and E.

These days, I’m apt to add them to everything from stir-fries to pasta sauces and omelets, and have even been known to contribute a few leaves to bulk up various pesto concoctions—something else I’ve learned can be made not just with basil, but also with various garden goods such as chives, garlic scapes, arugula and beyond.

I’m always looking for new ideas about what to with the bounty in my backyard, however, and The Book of Greens appears to be right up my raised beds.

In the cooking compendium compiled by Portland, Oregon’s Jenn Louis—the executive chef at the acclaimed restaurant, Lincoln—more than 175 recipes go far beyond what to do with everyday greens such as lettuce, cabbage and kale (although you’ll find new ways to make their flavors shine, as well).

For example, radish greens can be added to mangos for smoothies, cabbage can be grilled, tomato leaves are allowed to share space with pasta and fresh red sauce, and a simple salad of dandelion greens and eggs can be placed atop bread to make a singular sandwich. Manila clams with sorrel and cream, and lettuce and carrot cake are also among the many offerings, which pair the greens with seafood, pasta, grains, meat, beverages and more.

But that’s far from all. Among the plethora of recipes from snacks to soups to breakfast, dessert and main courses, home cooks will find out a lot more about the ingredients they’re working with, whether they’re gleaned from your own garden, purchased at area farmers markets or picked up on a whim at a grocery store.

Organized alphabetically by green—arugula to watercress—each entry features details about seasonality, nutrition, preparation, storage tips and more. Included in the recipes, she also adds recommendations for substitutions. If you don’t have arugula on hand, for example, swiss chard or spinach are good alternatives.

That’s the case for the recipe for Borani Esfanaaj, a traditional herb condiment Chef Louis learned to make while traveling in Israel and now prepares at Passover to add flavor to chicken. She notes it can also be used as a “guilt-free” sauce for brisket, or to spread on matzo or other crackers.

Find out more about this particular recipe, and many others, when Louis makes a stop in Bellingham Wed., Aug. 23. She’ll be on hand first for a 4pm demo at the Wednesday Farmers Market on the Fairhaven Village Green, and later for a 7pm book signing inside Village Books.

If you’re only able to come to the early event, pick up some produce that is new to you and a copy of the cookbook. By dinnertime, you could be going green. 

[Recipe]

Borani Esfanaaj
—From The Book of Greens

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more to finish
1 yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic
12 cups packed arugula leaves, preferably young (you can also try this recipe with chard or spinach)
Stems from 1 bunch mint
Tender stems from 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 cup pistachios, lightly toasted
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Dukkah, homemade (or store-bought) for garnish

Instructions

Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-4 minutes until translucent and tender. Stir often. Add the arugula (or alternate greens) and cook for two or three minutes, stirring, until the arugula is wilted and mostly dry. Place on a tray and cool completely in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

Put the cooled arugula in a blender with the mint and parsley stems, pistachios, lemon zest and salt. Process until pureed. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to three days. To serve, place the dip on a plate or in a bowl, sprinkle with dukkah, and drizzle with olive oil. Makes three cups.

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