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Cool Greens for Early Summer

Wash, Store, and Enjoy!

You picked up a bunch of greens at the farmers’ market last weekend. Now what? To make weeknight dinners a little simpler, I like to have my greens ready to go. This can include any hearty-stem green such as kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, or mustard greens.

To get them off the stem easily, hold the cut end of the stem in your non-dominant hand and pinch the bottom of the greens with your other hand, pulling up along the stem in a smooth motion. Most of the greens should come off easily. Tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces if you like. Discard or compost the stems. However, Swiss chard stems can be sliced very thinly and are easily sautéed with onions as a nice base to many dishes.

To wash your greens, you can use a salad spinner or a large bowl. Fill whichever you’re using with water, and swish around with your hands to loosen dirt. Allow it to rest for a few minutes so the dirt and grit settle to the bottom. With the salad spinner, just remove the basket and dump the water. With the bowl, gently scoop out the greens with your hands, shake off excess water, and lay them on a large clean kitchen towel. You may need to repeat these steps. To store the cleaned and dried greens, place a paper towel (this absorbs extra moisture) in a zip-lock bag, and fill it up with your greens. Refrigerate, store for a week or two, and use in these recipes.

Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

Heat a large frying pan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and add one small diced onion. Sauté over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened; season with salt and pepper. Add three cloves of minced garlic, 15 halved cherry tomatoes, and 1 can rinsed and drained chickpeas. Cook, stir for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have started to break down; season with salt and pepper. Add one bunch (about half a pound) of cleaned Swiss chard leaves and cook, covered, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add one tablespoon fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Bok Choy and Shiitake Stir-fry

Put a large wok or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat until very hot. Cut and discard the base of 2 pounds of baby bok choy, and loosen the leaves. Add them to the hot wok; using a wooden spoon, move them around very quickly until they start to wilt. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper (or 2 small dried hot peppers) and 1 pound shiitake mushroom caps, stirring to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, and add 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir-fry for 2 minutes more. Plate and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Serve with rice.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Flatbreads

Slice 2 large yellow onions into thin half moons, mince 2 cloves of garlic, and shred 1 pound of kale into ½-in pieces. Heat a large cast iron skillet or frying pan to medium heat, and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Decrease the heat to low, and allow the onions to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown. Add the garlic and the kale, and cook another 5 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and cooked down. Season with salt and pepper. On a baking sheet, arrange 4 to 6 flatbreads, and brush with a thin layer of olive oil. Spread the kale mixture over the flatbreads, leaving a little crust around the edges. Top with a 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated white cheddar, and a pinch of parmesan on each flatbread. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.


Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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