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Monday, July 2, 2007

La Famille d'Oignon

So as I was unloading this week's produce/CSA box on my counter I detected a theme...

the humble onion was enjoying the spotlight. There were lovely young red onions...more spring onions...(eek, more spring onions...I still have most of the bunch from last week!) and there were some space-age looking garlic scapes. umm, I only know the wacky, corkscrew thing-ys were scapes because the weekly CSA newsletter said so!!

The newsletter suggested using them just as you would use garlic, so I tried two approaches.

Chopped fresh, as garnish on some tortellini in gorgonzola cream sauce. Hmm...it was like eating raw garlic...perhaps a bit too pungent and sharp for my taste.

Round Two of Adventures with Scapes was very simple. I sauteed them with red pepper flakes and a little salt in some olive oil and then added washed and chopped kale. (sigh...yes, to finish off the remaining kale from two weeks ago...) This was terrific. It's a treatment I give broccoli rabe as well as ordinary broccoli. I think in Italian it is called "jumped" and it's a classic approach...you take a sturdy green and then "jump" it in a hot pan with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sometimes you blanch the green vegetable, then squeeze it dry before adding to the hot pan. It's a tasty way to cook greens and it worked like a charm with the gorgeous, artsy scapes...and, the lingering kale.

The thing I stumbled upon once we sat down to eat was that I could push the "jumped kale" over into the White Bean Salad on my plate, and ta daaah...an idea is born...the most delicious tuscan-like bean salad. A sort of quirky variation on Tuscan Bean Soup! Recipe is below. (The thing I love about bean salads is I always have a can of some sort of bean in the pantry and they are open to endless interpretation!)

The baby red onions were absolutely perfect for roasting in the pan with a chicken, which is what I did. The beauty of a meltingly sweet and tender roasted onion reminded me of Orangette's lovely treatment of some shallots recently. The onion family is finally getting some proper attention! Not nearly as poetic, my onions were bathed in some of the drippings from the chicken roasting overhead, as well as a bit of white wine I'd added to the roasting pan.

Some of the spring onions also made their way into the bean salad.





Hooray...vive la famille d'Oignon!

Tuscan Bean and Kale Salad

1 can white cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1-2 green spring onions, chopped
2 T. fresh green parsley, chopped

Toss beans and vegetables with a Simple Mustard Vinaigrette.
I use this variation adapted from Michael Roberts' Parisian Home Cooking:

In a small glass jar with a lid:
1 small, minced shallot bulb
1 T. dijon mustard
3 T. red wine vinegar (I love O brand...Zinfandel Vinegar. It has great wine flavor.)
tiniest micro-pinch of salt (since mustard is salty, you can also omit adding salt)
Shake everything together, then
add 5 T. of extra virgin olive oil, or if you prefer a lighter taste, use grapeseed, peanut or canola oil.
Put lid back on and shake again, finishing off with a grind or two of pepper.

Add fresh herbs, chopped...a teaspoon or so, to really highlight whatever you're dressing...chervil is nice. I sometimes skip the shallot and use chopped chive instead.

Jumped Italian Kale

4-5 large leaves of kale, washed, the center tough rib removed and cut into 1/2 inch strips (kitchen shears are excellent with this!)
2-3 garlic scapes, or cloves of ordinary garlic, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
Optional: squeeze of lemon

Heat the garlic scapes, red pepper flakes and salt in the olive oil over medium-high heat, about one minute, keeping an eye on the garlic...it should just be coloring a bit. Slowly add handfuls of chopped kale and stir to wilt everything.
When all the kale is in, and has started to wilt, pour chicken stock over and cover. Cook for about five minutes until kale has softened, and then uncover. Cook another minute or two to evaporate whatever liquid is left. Off heat, add freshly ground pepper to taste, and then toss with the bean salad.
Add an optional squeeze of lemon juice after tossing everything together.

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