Braised Greens with Dried Currants, Garlic,
Chili Pepper, and Toasted Pinenuts
This dish is traditionally made with spinach or chard and no chili pepper. I made it recently with fresh beet greens from my produce box which were delicious. Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eat them often!
The chili pepper can be omitted if you’re not a fan of heat. If you like spice, you’ll be happy to know that chili peppers contain numerous health benefits; they contain capsaicin which helps fight inflammation and regulate insulin levels; high levels of vitamin A and C boost immunity.
2 tablespoons currants, raisins, or golden raisins
1 large bunch beet greens, braising mix, kale, Swiss chard, or preferred green
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
½ tsp red chili flakes
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Toast pinenuts at 275 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Check frequently as they burn easily.
If using greens with “ribs”, remove and discard. Wash greens well and tear or coarsely chop. Do not dry.
Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add greens and currants and cover. Turn frequently with tongs until cooked. The greens should be bright and soft. Remove to a bowl and drain water from saucepan.
Heat the oil over medium heat in the same saucepan. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add greens with currants, toasted pine nuts and salt to taste. Mix ingredients well.
This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.
Butternut Squash Soup
The squash in this soup is sweet soothing and a great source of beta-carotene. Combined with rich broth, coconut milk, and spices, you’re giving yourself a great-tasting immune boost. Ginger is a warming herb and digestive aid. The coconut milk is a healthy source of fat that contains anti-microbial properties – think flu fighter.
2-3lbs, about 4 cups butternut squash, or other winter squash such as kabocha or acorn
1 medium yellow onion
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried ginger
2 cups homemade chicken stock, or more for a thinner soup
¾ cup coconut milk
1 lime (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place whole squash in oven and cook 25 minutes or until soft. Be sure to check at the narrower, neck end of the squash. (This can be done a day in advance.) Let squash cool, peel, cut in half, and scoop out seeds. Roughly chop.
Remove tough outer skin of onion and finely chop.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and add onion. Season with ½ tsp sea salt and saute until golden. Add cooked and chopped squash, coriander, and ginger, and sauté a minute longer.
Add chicken stock, coconut milk, and another ½ tsp sea salt, and bring to a simmer.
Using a hand-held blender, puree contents of pot until smooth. Alternatively, add contents of pot in a few batches to a stand-up blender and blend until smooth. (This is a fun time to involve your children who love to push the button and hear the motor run.)
Ladle into bowls and serve with a wedge of lime. Alternatively, add the juice of a lime to the pot while blending.
v Omit coriander, ginger, coconut milk and lime. Replace with 1 tsp dried thyme, ¾ cup cream, and ½ tsp nutmeg.
v For a sweeter soup, add one apple, peeled, cored, and sliced in quarters. Cook covered in the oven with the squash until soft. Add to pan at the same time as the squash.
Salad of Bibb Lettuce, Fuyu Persimmon and Toasted Hazelnuts
This salad takes advantage or the short persimmon season. It’s hearty but also a nice fresh and crispy complement to all of soups we’re making.
1 head bibb or butter lettuce
1-2 fuyu persimmons, should be firm
½ cup toasted hazelnuts
Wash and dry lettuce. Tear leaves.
Peel persimmon and slice thinly, as you would an apple.
Roughly chop hazelnuts. Add all ingredients, reserving half of the nuts, to a salad bowl in which you’ve made a vinaigrette. Toss well and sprinkle remaining nuts on top.
2 Tbs aged balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Add vinegar to your salad bowl, plus a generous pinch of sea salt. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified.