Monday, November 10, 2008

Greens Two Ways

When your CSA gives you greens (lots and lots of greens), make, well, make greens several different ways. Here we have quesadillas with greens and then polenta with greens and blue cheese. First, the quesadillas, and that begins with a story. A few years back, I attended a Tyler Florence cooking demonstration at a wine and food festival here in Austin. He sent someone with a microphone into the audience so questions could be asked while he cooked. There was a lot of excited giggling among the ladies, and one pointed, culinary question asked was “boxers or briefs?” He feigned embarrassment and continued cooking his spicy black eyed peas to which he had added some salt pork. Then, a serious question was asked regarding how to add flavor to the peas yet make it a vegetarian dish. Tyler began his answer with something about life without pork and then said that if you really want to leave out the pork you could use a smoked turkey wing. The woman who asked the question gave him a quizzical look, and he said, oh right, vegetarian! You could add chipotles instead for smoky flavor. I’m so glad that stuck with me. That’s exactly what I did to impart a smoky character to the greens that I cooked for the quesadillas.

Multi-grain tortillas were layered with shredded dry Jack cheese and a little shredded cheddar along with the chipotle sautéed collard greens and some seeded and chopped tomatoes. The quesadillas were fried until golden on each side and served with a homemade chipotle tomato salsa and fresh guacamole with cilantro. Our CSA provided the tomatoes this week as well. Getting local tomatoes in November is one more reason to really like Austin. Shoe leather would probably taste good melted into a cheese-filled quesadilla, but these fresh, spicy, cooked greens were especially delicious in them. To about four cups of chopped collards, I added one big finely chopped chipotle as they sauteed. For the salsa, I had two ripe, medium tomatoes which I chopped and plopped into the food processor along with two chipotles, about a quarter of a cup of finely chopped onion, and the juice of one large lime. I also added chopped cilantro and salt after pulsing a few times. This was a rather hot salsa, so you could start with one chipotle and add more to taste.

The next day, greens were sauteed with garlic and served over polenta with parmigiana topped with Maytag blue cheese. I’m afraid I don’t have a story to go with this one. I just blatantly stole this idea from the amazing Herbivoracious site. I used collard greens here again, and this time they were sautéed in olive oil with sliced garlic and crushed red peppers. The polenta was simply cooked with water, and parmigiana was stirred in when it was done. The greens paired very well with the creamy, mild polenta, and the crumbled blue cheese amplified the overall flavor. This was a great dish. It was hearty and filling, and the cheeses worked perfectly with the slight bitterness of the greens.

We also received tatsoi, arugula, eggplant, daikon, green peppers, carrots, and cilantro from our share. The quality has been fantastic, and I’m having fun coming up with new and different ways to use every bit of what we receive.


  1. I have had greens twice this past I sauted some vegan chorizo I made with smoked chipotles...yours looks good!

  2. Hey Lisa - I'm delighted you tried and liked the polenta dish!

  3. lisa,
    I love polenta, and I love Tyler Florence!
    Your quesadillas are terrific looking!

  4. The greens are bursting from our refrigerator--I have another meal to post as well!

    Michael, thanks for the great idea!

    Thanks, Stacey. Melted cheese never hurts.

  5. I guess this would be greens 3 ways - the third being 'in my belly' polenta and quesadillas - this must be a trick.

  6. i love polenta, but those quesadillas look glorious! that'd be my choice for roughage consumption. :)

  7. Delightful! I love the use of greens.

  8. Speaking of using something vegetarian to get add a meaty quality to the cooking (especially good in greens--since you're in Austin, if you haven't ever tried them yet, I recommend going over to Boggy Creek farm to get some of Larry's sundried tomatoes. The tomatoes are pricey but definitely worth it--just use a couple in a batch of sauteed greens to get a really nice rich, smoky flavor. At their farmstand you'll see a suggestion list for ways to use the tomatoes...


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