I don't usually comment too much on political issues or current events (unless it's food or farming policy). It just seems so surreal to me to be sitting here on my couch composing my One Local Summer post while in Iran, people are risking and/or losing their lives to gain a modicum of the freedoms that many Americans take for granted every day. If you're interested in following the events there, here are the best three sites I've found besides Twitter.
This week has been a week of easy local eating. Lots of salads still and the first summer squash of the season have arrived at the farmer's market. I still have tons of swiss chard left that my parent's gave me and it was starting to look a little bedraggled. I cut the leaves off the roots and washed them in my OXO Salad Spinner. I'm not big on kitchen gadgets but this is one of the best purchases we've made. It makes cleaning greens so much easier. That perked them up enough to keep through the weekend. I've made this quiche recipe before so I just subbed in chard for the spinach. I also made a wonderful swiss chard and artichoke dip for a party last night. I'll be posting that later this week. Another winner was the Potato LeeK Soup we made earlier this week.
Tonight I made a recipe from Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop. I have several of his cookbooks and they really can't be beat for simple, wonderful meals. I made Polenta with Garlicky Greens but I had to make a few substitutions. I'm out of spinach from the garden and it seemed silly to buy some at the market when I had so much chard and other vegetables to use up. I had some broccoli left over from last week so I used that in place of the spinach. I diced it pretty finely. I also used the chard stems. I added both of these to the pan after the garlic and cooked them a bit before I added the chard leaves. Everything (even the cornmeal) was local except for the olive oil and salt. Now dessert was not even remotely local but when you have leftover chocolate birthday cake, that's really not the time to be zealot.
Polenta with Garlicky Greens
Servings: 4 to 6
2 cups cornmeal
Salt and pepper
1 ½ lb. chard
1 ½ lb. spinach
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, slivered
2 tbsp unsalted butter
To prepare Polenta: Pour 8 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to boil. Add 2 tsp of salt and lower the heat to medium. Whisk in the cornmeal in a slow, steady stream. This should take almost 1 min. Make sure to whisk the cornmeal continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Continue whisking as the cornmeal comes back to a boil. Simmer, whisking constantly, until the polenta starts to thicken, 1 to 2 mins. Reduce the heat until the polenta is at the barest simmer. Cover the pot and cook very slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon every 10 mins or so, until the cornmeal loses its raw flavor, 35-40 mins.
To prepare the Greens: While the polenta is cooking, remove and discard the stems from the chard and spinach. Tear leaves into small pieces. Wash the leaves in a large bowl of cold water to get rid of any dirt. Shake the leaves to remove excess water, but do not dry them. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 mins. Stir in the garlic and cook until golden, about 2 mins. Add the greens to the pain. Stir to coat the leaves with oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until the greens are tender, 5-7 mins. Remove the cover and simmer until some of the liquid evaporates, 2-3 mins. The greens should be moist, but not swimming in liquid. When the polenta has finished cooking, stir in the butter and add more salt if needed.