Hey everyone! My name is Mary Margaret and I am guest blogging for We Eat For Real for the next couple of weeks. This is sort of exciting for me – I have never blogged before! I am not much of a food photographer, so little to no pictures either!
Do you have a garden? If not, why not? No space? If you have a deck or a patio, you have the space! In the past, I had a little garden at the bottom on the hill on the back of my property. Well, age and the hill really don’t get along, so this year I decided to build a container garden on my back deck.
I have 6 window-box style planters that hang from the deck railing from brackets purchased at Lowes. In those planters I have leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes, green onions, spinach, red Russian kale and curly leaf kale.
In addition, I have 3 large pots – one with squash, one with cucumbers, and one with eggplant. It is very important that these tender plants get good shade, particularly in the heat of the day/evening. They need to be watered frequently, as the organic soil dries out quickly. I have loved walking out with my bowl, pinching off the greens I want, and making a salad.
Although my CSA is no longer offering organic strawberries, I have included by favorite Baby Green Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing below.
My CSA (Lazy 8 Stock Farm) is really producing the greens right now. It is sometimes a challenge to find different ways to cook all these great leafy, vitamin-packed greens. I love Indian curries, so the Chicken and Kale Coconut Curry was a no-brainer. It will not disappoint! The garam masala seasoning really makes this dish. Last night I served up the Chicken and Ziti with Lemony Chard Pesto and it was a hit with the kids. Since it is summer, we grill out frequently to avoid heating up the house. It is a good night when I can cook my entire meal on the grill, including Warm Grilled Romaine with Goat Cheese. It is great as a salad or even a burger topping! Finally, as a good Southern lady, I had to cook up some Drunken Collard Greens. They were, by far, the best collards I have ever had and paired nicely with a thick, grill pork chop and organic sweet corn.
Hope you all can find something to try and to “make your belly smile!”
Baby Greens and Date Salad (adapted from Sun Date California Medjool Dates)
6 cups organic baby greens
1 cup fresh organic sliced strawberries
1/2 cup medjool dates, pits removed and chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (I find this at Costco!)
Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing
1 cup organic strawberries
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine salad. Just before serving, mix up dressing. Place all dressing ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Puree until smooth. Drizzle in up to 1/4 cup EVOO until desired consistency.
Creamy Chicken and Kale Curry
(adapted from Naked Cuisine)
1 lb organic boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbs organic coconut oil
1 bunch organic green onions, or 1 onion, finely diced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
1 bunch of organic kale, roughly chopped (remove the stems for a smoother sauce)
¼ C cream cheese (optional – I did not use)
½ C coconut cream (or make your own using 1 cup organic unsweetened coconut and grind in food processor with a little water for at least 15 minutes)
½ tsp sea salt
In a large skillet melt fat and add onion, ginger and garlic to simmer. When onions are translucent add cumin and garam masala, let this cook together for a few minutes on medium (warning – your house will smell divine!). Add the chicken to the skillet and cover for a few minutes.
Put a pot of water on with a steamer preferably for the kale. Steam until just tender but still bright green, about 3 minutes. (If you like, take a short cut and place kale on a large plate and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes). Puree the steamed kale in a blender or food processor with the cream or coconut cream until smooth. Once chicken is cooked through, stir in kale mixture and cook on low for 3 to 5 minutes until all the flavors meld. Serve with steamed Basmati Rice.
Chicken and Ziti with Lemony Chard Pesto
adapted from Swiss Chard Pesto
3 well-packed cups rainbow chard leaves (stems and center ribs removed), torn into large pieces. (Note – the stems are edible, so I left about half on!)
3 garlic cloves
Grated zest of 1 lemon, and juice
Salt and pepper (about 1/2 t each)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Tablespoon of fresh herbs (basil or oregano will work nicely)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra, if needed
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 pound organic skinless chicken breasts or thighs
3/4 pound organic noodles
Heat some olive oil in a skillet – brown chicken with a little salt, pepper, and fresh oregano. Meanwhile prepare ziti pasta till al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto. In a food processor, combine the chard, garlic, lemon zest, a big splash of lemon juice, salt and some pepper. Pulse a few times to combine, pushing down the chard as needed. Add the pine nuts and herbs and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream and process until incorporated. Add a little more oil, if needed. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl, stir in the cheese, then check the seasonings, adjusting as needed.
Drain pasta and add to pan with chicken with heat on lowest setting (I remove my chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces before this step). Stir in pesto and cover to steam together for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve topped with extra Parmesan cheese and a nice green salad.
Grilled Romaine with Goat Cheese
1/2 head Romaine lettuce per person (or Romaine hearts) if serving as a salad, less if using as a topping
Salt and pepper
goat cheese, crumbled
Slice lettuce in half, lengthwise, leaving stem intact. With cut side up, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on hot grill, and cook until it begins to char. Flip and repeat with the other side. Remove from grill and chop each head roughly. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the lettuce and toss with crumbled goat cheese. Great as a warm salad, or as a burger topping!
Drunken Collard Greens
3 slices preservative free bacon
1 bunch organic collard greens – rinsed, trimmed and chopped
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups organic chicken broth
1 bottle beer or lager of choice
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and fry until crisp. Remove bacon, chop, and add back to pot. Add the onion and cayenne and cook and stir until slightly browned. Add the collard greens and pour in the chicken broth and beer. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until collards are tender. Adjust seasonings before serving if needed. Makes a great side to grilled pork chop and grilled organic sweet corn – dang now my mouth is watering!