Thursday, February 27, 2014




The leaves of Minutina greens are slender, spiky and antler-like, hence the name “buckshorn”. The leaves grow upward in a rosette pattern, and have a crisp texture. The flavor is likened to spinach or parsley, with a more intense sweet, nutty flavor. The leaves are more flavorful before the plant flowers. 


Used as an addition to various other greens for salads, Minutina adds unique texture and flavor. The greens can also be sautéed with garlic, salt and pepper and served on its own. Stir fry in Asian dishes or use as an edible bed for meats or fish. Minutina was used in fancy jellies in America and England during Colonial times. Add to pizzas or sandwiches for a distinct flavor. 


Minutina is native to the coasts of Eurasia and Northern Africa, though it can be found growing in many places all over the globe. It was recorded in Italy in 1586 as a vegetable and was typically used in “wild green” salads. During Colonial times in America, the greens were used for medicinal purposes to treat fevers. The Italian heirloom can withstand mild frosts and grows during the winter in most temperate climates. It can be found growing along pebbly coastlines in Europe and the Mediterranean. Minutina is found growing wild in the US, Australia and New Zealand. 

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)

Serves 4-6
2 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe follows, or 2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup water, divided
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large serrano pepper, split down the middle leaving halves attached
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (similar size to cauliflower)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly minced cilantro leaves, to garnish
Ginger-Garlic Paste:
1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup canola oil
Mix the Ginger-Garlic Paste, coriander, turmeric, and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. This is a simple wet masala (spice mix). Set aside. In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the serrano pepper, wait 30 seconds, and then add the cumin seeds and wait until they're done spluttering. Add the wet masala (careful, it will also splutter). Cook until the paste thickens, deepens in color slightly, and oil oozes out of the perimeter of the masala, about 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and potatoes, stirring to coat the vegetables with the masala. Season with salt and add 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes. Then, remove the lid, stir, and cook until the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Ginger-Garlic Paste:
Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste. Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Kale and Dill

Servings vary
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned well and chopped (white and light green parts only)
4 or 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
about 4 cups of low fat, low sodium chicken broth
5 large kale or collard leaves, stems removed and sliced (or you can use spinach)
juice of half of a lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 
some basil leaves to taste
Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and leek and saute for 4 or 5 minutes. Add the garlic and a bit of salt and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Add the cauliflower. Add the chicken broth.  Use as much as needed to reach just below the surface of the cauliflower. Don’t add too much, you can always add more later when blending the soup. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Add the greens, lemon juice and dill, then stir and simmer a few minutes longer. Remove from the heat, add the basil and maybe a little more dill and let the soup sit about 5 minutes, so that it can cool slightly. Using an upright blender, blend the soup in batches until smooth, adding more broth (or you can use some water this time), if  it’s too thick. Season with salt and pepper, reheat if needed, and serve.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spicy Thai Beef Salad with Mizuna

Serves 2
Both Som Tum and Yam Neua are usually set atop a small bed of undressed shredded lettuce, which acts more like a garnish than a base. I chose to use mizuna, which is normally found in Japanese cooking, to give the beef an extra peppery bite.
For the Salad:
3/4 lb flank steak
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, sliced very thin
½ pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3-5oz mizuna (or baby arugula)
For the Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a press
2-3 tsp siracha (or you can use minced Thai chilies)
½ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp fish sauce
3 limes, juiced
½ tbsp sesame oil
Trim off any excess fat from the steak and season it well with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush a ridged indoor grill pan with oil and set it over a high flame. When the pan is hot, set the steak down diagonally on the pan and cook until dark marks have formed. On the same side, shift the steak so it lies on the opposite diagonal of the pan. This will create a beautiful cross-hatch. Repeat on the other side, and cook until medium rare (when the meat has firmed up, but still has some give when prodded). Cover the steak with tin foil and set aside to rest for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime, combine the fresh herbs, shallot, tomatoes, and half of the peanuts in a medium mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing. One the meat has properly rested, transfer it to a cutting board and slice it into thin strips on a diagonal (your knife should be positioned at a 45 degree angle). Toss the meat together with the salad mixture and the dressing. To serve, create a large bed of mizuna on two plates, and top each with a large helping of beef salad (making sure to keep some of the liquid). Garnish with the remaining peanuts and a few leaves of cilantro.

Swiss Chard and Potatoes

Serves 6
1 lb Swiss chard, washed
2 lbs potatoes (red, white, or otherwise), peeled and cut into a 1 inch dice
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs butter or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 Tbs beer, white wine vinegar - if necessary, to deglaze the pan, optional
Trim the Swiss chard: run a sharp knife along the both sides of the stem to remove the leaves. (Suggestion: stack 3-4 like-sized stems together and run the knife through all at once to speed things along). Chop the stems into 1/2 inch pieces.  Stack and slice the leaves into 1/4 -1/2 inch ribbons. Place potatoes in a large pot.  Cover by two inches with water.  Add 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil.  Partially cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 3 minutes.  Add chard leaves and stems. Bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and partially cover again for about 10 min, or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and chard. Melt butter or heat olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook 1-2 minutes, or garlic is fragrant. Toss in the potatoes and chard (be careful for any sizzle due to the moisture in the potato mixture).  Stir in the green onions.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook untouched 4-5 minutes.  Stir, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook another 4-5 minutes, or until everything is well cooked. If some of your potatoes have cooked to the bottom of the pan (heat varies between electric and gas, and when you add the moisture of the potatoes and chard, sometimes things get...sticky.  That's all fine in this dish, though - that's extra added flavor), add the optional beer or white wine vinegar now.  Stir to scrape any yummy flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan.  If your potatoes release well, you can skip this part if you'd like. Taste, and season again with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Spinach Recipe

Serves 4 
2 large bunches of spinach, about 1 lb
Olive oil, extra virgin
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt to taste
Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Clean the spinach by filling up your sink with water and soaking the spinach to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain the spinach and then repeat soaking and draining. Put the spinach in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Add the spinach to the pan, packing it down a bit if you need to with your hand. Use a couple spatulas to lift the spinach and turn it over in the pan so that you coat more of it with the olive oil and garlic. Do this a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute. After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat. Drain any excess moisture from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Simple Guisado de Quelite (greens stewed with tomatoes, onion, and garlic)

Serves 4 with rice or grain of your choice
With a guisado, there aren’t really any rules, but Mexican cooks tend to not go overboard on the onion. You just want the perfume of onion flavor — you don’t want onion por todas partes. And of course it helps to use the freshest vegetables you can find.
2 pounds quelites, or any other green of your choice, washed and thick stems removed
1/2 to 3/4 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 to 1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced (optional)
3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
Chicken or vegetable broth, or water
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. (In Spanish, this is called “acitronar.”) Then add the garlic and chiles and cook until aromatic, usually just a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, lowering the flame a little so they don’t dry out too quickly. When tomatoes have softened, add the greens and about 1/2 cup of liquid. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste. The amount of liquid is really to taste here, too — you can make it as soupy or as thick as you like.
Simmer the mixture gently, covered, until the greens are tender and the flavors have mixed together. Serve with warm tortillas, rice, quinoa, or grain of your choice.
Please click here for an article about quelites and how to incorporate them. They're simply a green, treat them any way you would treat spinach or kale! 

Spaghetti Squash 25 Ways

Click here for the website with many wonderful ideas for your squash eating!

Baked Greens Chips

Serves 4
6 to 8 ounces hearty greens, such as kale, chard, mustard, collards or spinach
1/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper. Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. Tear the larger leaves into 1 to 2-inch strips. Lay the greens in a single layer on the half sheet pans, spritz lightly with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Bake until the greens are dry and have darkened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove immediately from the pan on the parchment and transfer into a serving dish. Repeat with any remaining greens. Serve immediately, or store in a brown paper bag for up to 3 days.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweet Potato Hash in Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

Serves 8 as a side
4 medium-large sweet potatoes
1-2 Tbsp. refined coconut oil or butter, melted
5 slices bacon, preferably nitrate-free, foraged pork (can sub beef or turkey bacon if you don’t eat pork)
1 tart large apple (ie. Granny Smith)
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup cranberries (fresh or dried), chopped
1/3-1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, stems removed, chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. turmeric
For Squash
4 Acorn Squash
maple syrup, preferably Grade B
Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the acorn squash and slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pulp. In a baking dish, arrange acorn squash, flesh-side up and add water about 1-2 inches deep in the pan (Keeps squash from burning). Melt some butter and drizzle over squash flesh. Then drizzle maple syrup over the squash flesh. Add a small pat of butter in the middle of each squash. Bake at 400F until fork tender. Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Dice the potatoes into 1 in. cubes. In a bowl, coat the sweet potato cubes with melted coconut oil or butter. Arrange on a baking sheet and put them in the oven along with the squash. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. While the squash and sweet potatoes cook, fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. Once crisp, set bacon aside on a plate. Discard all but 2 tbsp. of bacon grease from the pan. After 20 minutes of baking, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, but let the acorn squash continue to cook until fork tender. Transfer the sweet potatoes to the bacon-greased skillet. Add in the celery, green onions, apple, thyme, cinnamon and turmeric. Saute the vegetables over medium heat until soft. Once the vegetables are softened, remove from heat and add chopped cranberries and pecans. Once the acorn squash is ready, pour off the butter/maple syrup liquid that has settled in the pits of the squash into the sauteed vegetable mixture. Arrange the squash on a platter and spoon the sauteed vegetables into the pits of the acorn squash. Serve warm.

Garlicky Ginger Joi Choi

Recipe slightly adapted from Steamy Kitchen
1 1/2 lbs joi choi, bok choy or pak choi
1 1/2 tablespoons light flavored olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and then minced
3 tablespoons water
course sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Trim the very end off of the joi choi and then gently separate the leaves from the center. Leave the little baby bok choy intact in the center. (The little center pieces were perfectly tender - we loved them.) Rinse clean under cold running water. Drain and set aside. In a COLD frying pan, add the olive oil, the garlic and the ginger. Then turn on the heat to medium. When the pan is fragrant, add the joi choi and toss very well to coat each and every leaf with the garlic and ginger oil. Increase heat to medium high and continue tossing (fast!) for about 15 seconds. Add the water and cover for 1 minute. Season with salt and drizzle a bit of sesame oil on top. Enjoy!

French Lentil Soup with Turnip, Parsnip, and Quelites

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 cup dry white wine (optional)   
1 cup French green lentils (lentilles du puy) 
1/3 cup tomato paste
6 cups water (or stock)
5 to 6 cups quelites (clusters of leaves only, no stems)
sea salt and black pepper
Before you start cooking, clean the quelites. Pick the soft leaves off the thick stems (discard the stems) and wash them well. The leaves can be extremely sandy.  
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, turnip, and parsnips to the pot and cook, stirring often, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the bay leaf, oregano, cumin, chili flakes and garlic to the pot and cook for another 30 seconds but do not let the spices or garlic burn. 
If using, add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for a few more minutes until the wine has slightly reduced. 
Rinse the lentils well and add them to the pot along with the tomato paste and water (or stock). Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low and allow the soup to simmer uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes. Taste the lentils for doneness and be sure not to overcook them. If the soups dries out too much as it cooks, add another 1/2 cup or so of water, as necessary, but a thick consistency is best.
Near the end of the cooking time, add the quelites to the pot. They only require a few minutes of cooking time and will reduce considerably as they wilt down.  
Take the soup off the heat and stir in the juice of half a lemon. Taste for seasoning and add in sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste. Allow the soup to cool slightly and serve with additional lemon juice.
It will keep in the fridge for a few days and will only get better with time as the flavors develop. For long-term storage, freeze individual portions for up to 1 month. 
Note: Do not add salt until the lentils are fully cooked through. Adding salt too early in the cooking process ruins their texture. In fact, for the best texture and flavor, be sure to use French green lentilles du Puy. (I also do not recommend substituting canned or frozen lentils because they tend to be mushy). The lentilles du Puy are worth the investment and you should have plenty left over to make salads such as this one by David Lebovitz.