2014-03-14 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Prepare for the eating of the green
By Connie Wendell
Special contributor

It is almost St. Patrick’s Day and we will be wearin’ our green. Cook the recipes that I’ve included this time and you’ll be eatin’ your green.

All kidding aside, the greens in the following recipes are super foods and it’s important to eat healthier. If greens sort of turn you off, try these recipes and you’ll be very surprised how easy it is to eat so healthy!

Swiss chard and rosemary pesto pasta

Kosher salt; 10 ounces dried, whole wheat pasta, such as fusilli; 5 to 6 stems dark green Swiss chard; several stems Italian parsley; 2 tablespoons packed rosemary leaves; 4 cloves garlic; 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, or more as needed; ½ cup pine nuts; 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed; and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook for five minutes less than the package directions (to keep the pasta from getting mushy).

Meanwhile, separate the chard leaves from their ribs and stems and stuff the leaves into a food processor. Pluck enough parsley leaves to yield ¼ cup packed and enough rosemary leaves to yield 2 packed tablespoons, and place them both in the food processor.

Smash and peel the garlic cloves, then place them in the food processor along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pine nuts. Pulse until finely chopped; stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the motor running, gradually add oil to form a well-incorporated pesto. Taste and add cheese if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, tossing to coat evenly. If the pesto seems too thick, stir in some or all of the cooking water.

Divide among wide, shallow bowls. Serve immediately with more cheese at the table.

Spinach salad with strawberry vinaigrette

Two cups fresh shelled peas; 6 cups baby spinach; 4 cups baby Swiss chard; 1 cup 3 to 4 inch strips scallions; 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries; plus sliced strawberries to arrange on salad; 1 cup cider vinegar; and ¼ cup salad oil.

In a medium stainless-steel or enamel saucepan combine strawberries and vinegar. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for three minutes. Remove from heat. Pour the vinegar-berry mixture through a finemesh strainer; let the liquid drain into a bowl.

Discard the berries. Transfer vinegar to a jar or bottle. Cover tightly with a non-metallic lid (or cover with plastic wrap and tightly seal with a metal lid). Chill for at least one hour.

In a medium saucepan cook peas, covered, in a small amount of boiling, salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Arrange peas, spinach, Swiss chard and scallions in rows in a serving bowl or large platter.

In a screw-top jar combine ¼ cup of the vinegar-berry mixture and salad oil. Cover and shake well. Drizzle over salad. Store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator.

Spicy chicken sausage pasta and greens

Eight ounces medium shell pasta (3 cups); 1 bunch broccolini cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups); 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 12 ounce package fully cooked spicy chicken sausage links, cut into ½-inch-thick slices; 1 small onion, coarsely chopped; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 cup reducedsodium chicken broth; ½ teaspoon kosher salt; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; 1 cup arugula; ¼ cup snipped fresh dill; ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese; olive oil; and crushed red pepper.

In a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccolini for the last four minutes of cooking time. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken sausage, onion and garlic. Cook, turning occasionally, until sausage is browned, about 3 minutes. Add pasta mixture, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Heat through. Add arugula and dill. Remove from heat and toss to wilt greens.

Divide among shallow bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.

Now you have some healthy green recipes and you’re all set for St Patrick’s Day. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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