Monday, June 21, 2010

Fresh Picked Garden Greens and Pancetta

The upside of the miserably cool rainy June we have had here in the Northwest is that our greens and peas are thriving, (while the beans and tomatoes are shivering).  Last night, I harvested a handful of Dwarf Syberian Kale, Orange Swiss Chard, and Chinese Mustard greens.
They all are young enough to braise lightly.  First, I cubed thick slices of pancetta (Italian type of bacon, the best choice but ham or bacon will do) and fried them, taking the bits out when crispy and brown. Saving about 1 T. of bacon grease, I added the washed and loosely chopped greens, stiring to coat with the flavored oil. (Cool down the pan somewhat before adding water or you will get a spitting oil explosion) I added 1/2 cup of water and braised them for about 3 minutes (longer if your greens are tougher). I threw the greens on a platter with the pancetta, squeeze of lemon juice, and black pepper. It was refreshing to have such a simple dish. Usually I add garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar to the greens while braising, but I didn't want to overpower the tender and fresh flavor of the hand picked greens. The Chinese Mustard had a sharp peppery flavor while the Kale and Chard were sweet and mild. For a vegetarian version, substitute olive oil and sea salt with a dash of smoked spanish paprika for the salty pancetta.

I served this with creamy Polenta, faithfully stired over the stove for 30 minutes with a wooden spoon. I added maybe 2 cups of dried polenta to hot broth consisting of a tall carton of vegetarian broth and 1 can of evaporated milk, salt and pepper. I added garden fresh herbs of chopped rosemary and tarragon to the mixture, later adding chopped chives. Just before serving I melted gorgonzola into the mixture and topped with lavendar petals.

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