Summer is Finally Here!

Did anyone else notice that the first really summery day came on the solstice? How nice.

OK, let’s see… what do we have this week? Salad, radishes, spinach, broccoli raab, mint, kale, and lambsquarters. We decided no on the garlic scapes; they’re not quite ready. Next week. Anyhow… salad is fairly self-explanatory, and I guess usually I’d think of radishes in salad, too.  There are rumors of people who cook radishes… if anyone has tried this, let us know what you thought about it.

Two really excellent things to do with spinach are creamed spinach and spanakopita.

Here’s Julia Child’s recipe for creamed spinach (from Volume One of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but paraphrased):

Wash 1 lb. spinach and remove most or all of the stems. Blanch the spinach – either by dropping it briefly into boiling water or steaming it, just until it wilts – then immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking.

Wring out the spinach in small batches with your hands. Don’t be shy – watery creamed spinach is gross. If you feel like you’re wringing out nutritional goodness, and this bothers you, save the water for soup.

Chop the spinach.

Melt some butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then stir in the spinach. Cook, stirring, until any remaining moisture has evaporated (according to Julia, “the spinach will begin to adhere to the bottom of the pan.” Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Lower heat to medium, sprinkle on 1/2 T. flour and continue stirring for two minutes to cook the flour.

Remove from heat and stir in about 1/4 c. cream by spoonfuls.

Return to heat and simmer, cover, and cook very slowly for about 15 min, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add more cream by spoonfuls if spinach becomes too dry.  Correct seasoning.

At this point she has you add butter, which sounds awesome but perhaps a little bit unnecessary.

Here is another version of “creamed” spinach. It’s from Weight Watchers. Of course, it’s no Julia Child artery-clog spinach but it’s pretty good and much better for you:

In a food processor or blender, combine 1/2 c. low-fat cottage cheese, 3 T. skim or 1% milk, 1 T. grated parmesan, 1 small garlic clove, 1/8 t. salt, a pinch of nutmeg, and a few grinds of black pepper. Add 1/4 lb. raw washed spinach; puree until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, combine above  mixture with 3/4 lb. raw washed spinach, chopped or not, and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is cooked.

We followed this recipe for spanakopita: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spanakopita-107344

It was good, but we didn’t make them tiny as the recipe says; we made them into single meal sizes and called them Spana-pocket-a.  An excellent use of spinach.

There are many wonderful things to do with kale – truly! Here’s just one of them, from a friend of ours calling himself King Nutria Silverback:

Steam a ‘buttload of Kale’ – (that’s a technical term), just until the stem parts begin to get soft.
Meanwhile, saute a chopped yellow onion in more butter than you should. Toss the butter/onion mixture with the soft Kale and move this into your favorite casserole dish.  Cover this with a serious amount of Parmesan and brown it off under the broiler.  Stand back and receive rave reviews.
And as for mint… combined with the warm weather… I’m thinking mojitos! Here’s one version (you can also make “nojitos,” eliminating the rum):
Place several mint leaves, some sugar, and half a lime in a glass. Muddle.  Fill with ice, then add a shot of rum. Fill glass to top with club soda.
Or squeeze the lime first and just use the juice. Or use simple syrup instead of sugar. Or make the whole thing in a martini shaker so you can strain the mint bits out. Or do it however you like, just make sure you get all the ingredients in. Consider adding other things… we had blueberries in our mojitos the other night. Unconventional and antioxidant, too. 🙂
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