Greens

The view from my desk today is of a winter landscape with little green in sight. We have had a few inches of spring snow, perfect for encouraging the peas, lettuce, bok choy, kale and beets I planted last week. The apple tree growing outside the kitchen window is plump with snow-capped buds. Full of promise.

I’m dragging along in the kitchen, ready for new seasonal ingredients and the appearance of self-seeded arugula, parsley, and dill in my garden. Our meals include dishes I’ve made for months, as I depend on old favorites to get me through ’til spring and all its possibilities. My impulse is to stay home, to cook, however uninspired I may be. We did venture out for our first dinner in a restaurant with friends to celebrate Sherry’s exhibition and beautiful book. What a treat to see dear ones and choose our meal from a menu. Slowly, we reenter the world.

One old favorite is a chard tart, jokingly called a ‘charred’ tart by Bud. The crust dough I use is simple, delicious and healthy. I’ve written about it in other posts but here is the recipe from Patricia Wells.

Combine 1 cup unbleached flour, a big pinch of salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup water. Press into tart/pie pan. Prebake at 375° for 15 minutes. This is a very amenable dough and does not shrink in the pan – no need to use weights.

For the tart, strip the bunch of chard leaves from stems. Slice crosswise about an inch wide. Chop stalks into 1-inch pieces. Sauté stalks in olive oil until tender, 5 minutes or so. Add the leaves and 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced, and cook until wilted and tender.

When cool, add a beaten large egg, 1/2 cup half-and-half, and a cup or so of grated cheddar, parmesan, gruyere or a combination. Spread in prebaked pastry shell and bake at 375° for 25 minutes.

I served the tart with a dish of lightly steamed asparagus, sliced almonds and capers, sautéed in butter.

For a first taste of spring, Evan brought a bunch of nettle tops from his garden, carefully clipped and trimmed for me. The leaves are very prickly and he prepared them with a glove and scissors. He promised to bring me nettle plants when the snow melts. I browsed in a few cookbooks for inspiration and read that nettles turn a vivid green when cooked. I settled on a basic soup recipe.

First, I sautéed a small onion, a carrot, and five very small red potatoes, all diced, in a tablespoon of olive oil and one of butter. When they softened, I added the nettles and about four cups of water. A chicken or veggie stock would have been good but I had neither. Cooked this about 25 minutes, cooled a bit, and blended to a smooth puree. Added salt and 2 tablespoons cream. At serving time, seasoned with lemon juice to taste.

We ate this spring tonic topped with a drizzle of yogurt.

The daffodils will bloom when the snow melts. I hope I do too.

5 thoughts on “Greens

  1. I wondered what nettles look like. Now I know.

    It is a lovely spring day here. I picked up an order from Whole Foods and drove with my window down.

    I am still not up to going for a walk. The swelling has gone down but closed shoes are a challenge.

    Love,

    Jan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. When I was fighting an allergic reaction to dust, I made a nettles tea every morning. Going out like Evan, with gloves and a pruners. I boiled the nettles and drank the tea. Nettles has antihistimines, and it worked! Now I use the greens for ravioli or omelets. As long as the nettles doesn’t flower, the leaves taste mellow.

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