Green on greens.
I realize the calendar listed "bean stew with herbed pesto" for tonight's dinner, but when I went to soak the beans this morning, and happened to check the recipe, I realized we had no chicken stock. And while most of the time I would just sub in water, I bought special beans that look like little cows for this one, so I didn't want to mess it up.
Instead, I put a chicken out to thaw and finally got around to using the greens from last week's CSA box. I've been so taken with the first asparagus and shelling peas this spring that I've let some of our more ordinary workhorse items - leeks and greens and green garlic and spinach - fall to bottom of the fridge.
This recipe is an oldie but goodie - we've been eating it for years. Usually we make the sauce and greens with tofu and rice, but when I need chicken stock, it only makes sense to eat some so that I have leftover bones to simmer all night. Either one is good. At our house the kids won't touch tofu unless it is completely tasteless and floating in a bowl of broth. So usually, if we have languishing greens, we'll eat the tofu version for a late supper after the kids are in bed.
Any kind of greens will work, what we get are actually called stir-fry greens, and are made up of young leaves of chard, kale, spinach, mustard and all sorts of other leafy green brassica-like things.
I managed to make it in to Omnivore Books this afternoon, to pick up a copy of Gordon Edgar's Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge. He has been working at Rainbow Grocery's cheese counter since 1994, which is only one year longer than I have been shopping there. According to Omnivore, he is "witty and irreverent, informative and provocative". I can't wait to read his book. I also can't wait to see him speak at Omnivore this Saturday, at 3:00 pm. How could you not want to hang out and hear the dirt on cheese?
Greens and Tofu/Chicken Stir-Fry (adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):
1 large bunch stir-fry greens (or any other sort of greens)
12 oz firm tofu or 2 chicken legs (thigh and drum included)
4 large garlic cloves or 4 green garlic stalks, finely chopped (depending on the season)
a two inch or so piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil
4 Tablespoons sesame oil
8 teaspoons brown sugar
6 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Before you do anything else, start a rice cooker with a couple cooks of rice in it. Next, pull the leaves off the stems of the greens, then wash them in a salad spinner. Spin dry, and put them aside. If using tofu, slice into 1/2 inch x 2 inch pieces. If using chicken, cut the meat off the bone and into 1 inch square or so pieces.
Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oils to make the sauce. Put the vegetable oil in a wok, and heat it up. The whole point in stir-frying is that the pan is so hot, the food just needs to be stirred around for a brief period of time - so crank up the heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the tofu or chicken. Stir it around for a minute or two, then add the garlic and ginger. Let the garlic and ginger soften, but not color or burn. When they are soft, add the tofu or chicken, and stir-fry. When the meat (or tofu) looks done (slice open the biggest piece you can find to make sure its not pink inside), dump the greens on top of the chicken/tofu, and stir-fry them as well. When the greens are wilted, pour the sauce over the greens and chicken/tofu. Stir it all together and turn off the heat. Serve over rice!