Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Something New

Although Foodbuzz, Bon Apetit and Recipezaar have served me well, last weekend I decided that it was time to break free from the confines of other people's recipes and concoct something entirely of my own. My labors began at the farmer's market where it didn't take me long to settle on three main ingredients: greens, mushrooms, and shallots. This time of year the kale and collards come back into focus as the more delicate greens of summer are forgotten for awhile. Not only that, but the chantrelles are in full effect. Lots of vendors have heaps of the spongy, orange mushrooms as proof of their foraging efforts. They remind me of little umbrellas that shelter tiny spaces on the forest floor.

Back at home, I noticed some beans that I'd picked from my garden and put away to forget about. They were some kind of pole beans. "Jack and the Beanstalk," the seed packet had read, conjuring images of giants in the sky guarding precious golden eggs. Perhaps my seeds were planted a bit too late in the season to reach those heights, but still, those plants stretched and coiled upward into a massive web of leaf and vine, threatening takeover of the unsuspecting fennel growing just on the opposite side of their trellis. Their rediscovery in my fridge lent another dimension to the dish that was taking shape in my mind.

What I came up with was this simple, tasty meal:
(measurements aren't exact on this one)

Autumn Greens with Chantrelles, Shallots and White Beans
serves 2-4

1 medium bunch purple kale, roughly chopped
1 medium bunch collard greens, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, sliced into rings
1/2 lb. (or so) chantrelle mushrooms, sliced
1 C. cooked white beans
2 (or more) dashes cayenne

Heat your wok over medium and toss in the mushrooms, arranging them in one layer. Allow them to cook for a few minutes until they begin to release their juices. Toss them in the pan and continue to cook for a few more minutes, stirring to prevent them from burning.

Add the sliced shallots, and cook, stirring for several minutes more, until the shallots begin to brown. Season with salt and a dash or two of cayenne.

Add the cooked beans to the wok, and toss with the mushrooms and shallots. Adjust the heat at this point if it seems that the mushrooms and/or shallots are getting too brown.

Toss the heap of greens on top and allow to cook down for a couple of minutes. Stir and flip all of the ingredients to wilt all of the greens. Season again with salt and add another dash or two of cayenne depending on your palate.

Cook a few minutes more, until the greens are done to your liking. Serve immediately. Smile.
The thing I loved most about this simple dish was that the flavors of each ingredient were intact and shone through beautifully. It was delicious on its own, although I think I may serve it over quinoa the next time around for a complex-carb kick.

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