kaledom come.

It’s a rainy Sunday evening, and the ground is well-soaked, as were some of the farmers and vendors who hauled their stock up to the Grant Park Market this morning.   It was pretty quiet out there today.  I think lots of people were connected to their couches, listening to the rain from inside their cozy homes.  Or maybe people were enjoying a family-filled Mother’s Day brunch, honoring those amazing women who raised them well.  My superhero mama lives in south Florida- too far to meet up for a Mom’s Day celebration, at least this year.  So we were market bound.

A little rain wasn’t going to stop us from venturing out to pick up our first CSA box.  No way.  And, as luck would have it, by the time we got there, the skies had decided to dry up and take a break.  No umbrella needed.  Which is good, because I was trying to figure out how I’d hold an umbrella, take photos, give vendors money for their goods, place our purchases in my bag, eat, talk, and learn- all at the same time.  Phew.  When we rounded the corner to the market, these donuts put a smile on my face right away.

Just the title alone- Cream Filled Pillows.  Brilliant!

And if I had a sweet tooth, I probably would have downed one of those for breakfast, but instead, I strolled over to The Little Tart and had to have one of these.

A delectable pastry puff filled with Pine Street Market sausage, kale and local cheese.  Yum!

I kinda appreciated the calm that was in the air- and the way it opened up the typically crowded pathway for little girls to street paddle board down the lane.  I guess that was my random market entertainment for today.  : )

It was the debut of this year’s Georgia peaches, and they were lookin’ mighty fine.

While the variety of freshly harvested vegetables was certainly impressive,

kale seemed to have the most notable presence.

And for someone who didn’t even know what kale was a few years back, it has come to be one of my favorite vegetables of all time.  The lacinato kale, pictured above, made its way into an alarmingly delicious veggie casserole that we put together on Friday evening.

Diced kohlrabi, kale, celery, red peppers, and carrots tossed with a homemade slow-cooked french onion dip (using local spring onions).  Topped with a little cheese and baked until the veggies were just crisp tender.  Woah.

This week, Jackson Lowe’s CSA members will be receiving a bunch of Red Russian kale.

Lucky ducks!  And I absolutely love to use this type of kale as sort of a wrapper- like a tortilla for a burrito- to bundle up rice, beans, veggies- really anything you like.

Little bundles of goodness.

So, I’d like to share our dinner of Grilled Chicken Legs with White Bean Kale Bundles and Oyster Mushrooms.

Mmmhmm.

Adam fired up the grill,

keeping the coals over to one side, and we seasoned up our chicken with our new Magic Unicorn salt.

You can use any combination of spices you like.  Paprika, Italian seasoning, or just salt and pepper.

Now let’s get to the kale.

First, rinse 5 Red Russian leaves and bring a large pot of water to boil.

Next, cut the thick ribs out, using a sharp knife.  You want to leave enough connected space up at the top of the leaf to place a good heaping spoonful or two of your filling.

When the water boils, add a couple good pinches of salt.  This is the only time the kale itself will get seasoned, so don’t be shy.  Then, simply blanch the kale in the boiling water for 3 minutes.  You’ll need to stay close by and keep gently pressing the kale back into the water, since it likes to float.

Prepare a bowl full of ice water while you’re blanching.

Then, remove the leaves carefully with tongs and place them in your ice bath.

The ice bath stops the cooking process and keeps the leaves bright green, but I have skipped this step before, and you can too without changing the end result too much.

Then, lift the leaves out one at a time and kind of shake off the excess water.  Lay them out on kitchen towels to dry.

This is a good time to get your chicken grilling.  Adam’s method is to brown the skin side over direct heat for about 5 – 6 minutes, flip the chicken over and cook another 3 – 4 minutes.  Then, he moves it over to the indirect heat side, closes the lid and allows the chicken to finish cooking through.  This takes about 10 – 15 minutes.  The chicken is finished when the thickest part registers 165° on an internal meat thermometer and the juices run clear.

Next, time to create the filling.

I had fresh spring onions on hand, but you could easily substitute shallot or yellow onion in this recipe.

Plus: 1 small to medium red bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, pressed

the zest and juice of one lemon

several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, chopped (Reserve a little pile of your leaves to garnish the dish.)

handful fresh parsley, chopped

1 can white beans, rinsed and drained

Heat a large pan, with a good drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to medium heat.  Add your shallots or onions

and saute about 2 minutes, until they become soft.

Add your red peppers

and cook 2 – 3 more minutes.  Then, stir in your pressed garlic.

Cook another minute or so, until the garlic is nice and fragrant.  Then add your lemon zest and juice and beans.

Stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper and cook just to heat the beans through- a couple minutes.  Lastly, add your fresh herbs.

Stir those herbs into the mix and sort of press your spoon into the beans, crushing some of them- but not obliterating all of them.  This just helps the mixture come together.  Then stop and taste.  Adjust seasoning to your liking and turn off the heat.

Now, you’re ready to roll.

Place a good spoonful or two of your bean mixture onto the broad part of your leaf.  Then, tuck those tails up on top of the filling.

Fold the right and left sides in towards the middle, and then roll it up.  Place the little bundle seam side down onto a platter.  Repeat until you have filled all of your leaves.

Fabulous.  When your chicken is cooked through, remove it to a bowl

and tent it loosely with foil.  Let it rest for 5 – 7 minutes before serving- and save those juices that accumulate in the bottom of the bowl!

The mushrooms are super quick and can be executed while your chicken rests.

1 T EVOO

1 T butter

1 shallot or spring onion, sliced thinly

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 lb or so oyster mushrooms (or your favorite kind of mushroom- sliced baby portobellos would work great!)

We used a stainless steel pan on our grill, figuring we’d impart a little smoky flavor into the shrooms, but you could easily cook these on the stove top.

Into the pan went the olive oil and the butter.

Once the butter begins to melt, add your onions.  Beware that your heat is not too high, moderate heat will work best, as you don’t want to burn the onions.

Stir the onions for a minute or two, letting them soften.  Then, add your garlic and keep it moving in your pan for about 3o seconds until it starts to sizzle around the edges.

Add your mushrooms and toss to coat them in the flavah.

Cook the mushrooms for about 2 minutes before seasoning with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking just another couple minutes until the mushrooms are nice and tender.  Remove them to a bowl.  Try not to eat them all before plating.

Ready to serve!  Place 2 kale bundles onto each plate.  Top with a piece of juicy chicken and spoon some mushrooms, onions, garlic, and “sauce” right over the top.  (I got all of the mushrooms, since Adam doesn’t eat them!)

Lastly, drizzle some of those reserved chicken juices over the top as well, and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Voila!  A grain-free meal fit for a king or queen.  The chicken was succulent and a tad smoky from the grill.  The kale bundles were bright and exciting, while the texture kept me going back for more.  And the mushrooms just brought the whole dish together with their succulence.  Y.U.M.

Please feel free to utilize this method of kale-wrapping with any combination of ingredients you like.  It’s just a really fun way to enjoy this super healthy leafy green.  And the presentation is lovely.  You could totally make these bundles ahead of time and serve at room temperature or reheat in a low oven.

Alright, friends.  Time for me to join my sweet husband in the kitchen.  Tonight we’re having a comforting baked pasta dish loaded with fresh, local vegetables.  I can’t wait to get those veggies in my mouth!  Then, it’s off to plan for my clients tomorrow- 2 families that I absolutely love.  For one, I will create 3 healthy recipes, using Jackson Lowe vegetables and any kind of meat except fish, and no grains.  I will cut their vegetables, make salad dressing, marinades, etc. and drop their ingredients off, all ready to go.  For the other couple, I will fully cook 2 meals.  Only chicken and turkey, and some easy to grab vegetable sides.

I appreciate that every day in my job is like a puzzle.  What will I plan?  Will I find it all at the market?  How will I accommodate each client’s needs and requests in one day’s work?  Planning and organization.  I get to concoct recipes and meals that are completely tailored to each client’s tastes and dietary restrictions, and bring the goods right to their door.  It’s like bringing Christmas morning to them once a week during my Food Fairy delivery time.  Watching their faces light up is amazing.  Making people’s lives less stressful and more delicious is the name of my game.  And it’s a fun and rewarding one for me to play!!

Here’s hoping that you are relaxed and rejuvenated on this Sunday night.  Feeling glad to be alive and well.  Maybe even feeling spoiled at the end of a well-deserved Mother’s Day pampering.  I hope you’re prepared for a tasty and productive week ahead.  I know I am.

Happy cooking and eating to you.

ashli

 

Comment w/ Facebook

  1. Ashli- My family and I have been enjoying many of your recipes since joining the Jackson Lowe CSA. Thank you! Any chance you can share your recipe for the veggie casserole you mention above?

    Thanks so much,
    Ragan

    Reply

    • Hi, Ragan! Thanks so much for the feedback! I make that veggie casserole different every time depending on what I have on hand, but here’s the gist:
      So, to make the veggie casserole extravaganza, I start by slow cooking onions. I pretty much follow Guy Fiere’s French Onion Dip recipe, but I cook my onions longer and slower. Like for an hour or so. And when the pan seems dry, I add a little bit of water to the onions to keep them going. That dip is awesome. Especially on the second day. I hosted a party for a friend and had leftover dip and fresh veggies. So, what I did was just chopped up the veggies I had on hand in a large dice, or big ribbons (swiss chard, kale, carrots, peppers). Then, tossed them to coat them well in French Onion Dip and placed them in a 9 x 13 pyrex dish, topped with American cheese and baked for about 30 minutes. This last time, I used my farm fresh veggies:

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      4 – 5 leaves of kale, ribs removed, chopped into thick ribbons
      1 kohlrabi, skin removed, diced into about 1 inch cubes
      4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch or bite-sized chunks- I cut the skinny ones into longer pieces, the fatter carrots into thinner pieces so they will all cook within about the same time
      red bell pepper, diced
      2 ribs celery, diced
      4 cloves garlic, pressed
      handful fresh parsley, chopped

      You can add anything you’ve got really. I like to leave the veggies in a large dice, so they will still have some crunch after being roasted for a while.

      Anyway, toss with about a Cup (you can be generous- we know mayonnaise and sour cream don’t make for the most healthy recipe…) of your french onion dip. Season with salt and pepper- you’ve got to season all of those veggies.

      Turn out into a pyrex dish. Top with parmesan cheese, or whichever melty cheese you have.

      Bake 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
      Let it cool a bit before serving. Enjoy!

      Reply

  2. […] and wilt down in a salad, or to blanch and wrap around the ingredients of your choice- making little kale presents.  Or, you can cook and incorporate the piney leaves into pastas, grits, pizzas, […]

    Reply

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