Tuesday, August 5, 2008


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The Italian "black kale" (sometimes known as "Tuscan kale" or "dinosaur kale") patch in our tiny garden

I have to confess-- I am a terrible gardener! I love harvesting the fruits of the garden, but not growing them. However, we live on an island of gardeners, so there's no problem getting fresh, organic produce this time of year. But, DH (who also doesn't like gardening much) always grows tomatoes and a few other things in our small garden. This year, the greens are just unbelievable! The kale and chard (2 kinds of each) are unstoppable! We are eating them almost every day, in large quantities. That's a good thing-- in my opinion, you can't eat enough greens!

I usually just stir-fry ribbons of either one with a little olive oil, salt and garlic (no liquid-- they exude their own) until wilted-- absolutely divine! but yesterday I wanted to try something different. So I found an unusual recipe for a pilaf with more greens than grains ( 1 lb. greens) in it and decided to give it a try.

The recipe is from Food & Wine magazine, but created by Paula Wolfert, author several books, two of which are well-loved-- "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean Grains and Greens". These books are not vegetarian, but there are lots of recipes and ideas for vegans, and the books are highly readable.

The recipe has an unusual, but easy, cooking method. Very little water (1/2 a cup) is added, but the mixture steams slowly and uses the natural liquid from the greens to moisten the dish, so it's very nutritious, as well as delicious. I believe it's a Turkish dish.

One of the ingredients needed for the dish is a Turkish red pepper paste, and I used a quick recipe of Ms. Wolfert's.

I wanted something to go with the pilaf, so I chose a recipe for Turkish Red Lentil "Burgers" (patties, really), that I had made before, from fatfreevegan.com. I added a sauce utilizing the red pepper paste. (Recipes below.) It was a wonderful summer dinner!

Not a great shot-- sorry! When I microwaved the leftovers today for lunch, the bulgur expanded some more, so maybe I should have let it cook longer. But it was good both ways!

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

NOTE: Unless you have some ready-made, make the Quick Red Pepper Paste (recipe below) before starting this recipe.

The ingredients

1 small head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lb onions, finely chopped (I used a food processor--BCG)
1 lb mixed sweet and earthy greens, stemmed and finely shredded (such as Tuscan kale, Swiss chard and beet greens)
1 cup coarse bulgur (#3)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you might be able to get away with less--BCG)
2 1/2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper paste (see below)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
green onions and lemon wedges, for serving

In a flattish bowl, mash the chopped garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt, using a fork.

In a large, deep pot, combine the mashed garlic with the onions, mixed greens, bulgur, olive oil, red pepper paste, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Season with salt.

Using your hands, work the water into the bulgur until it is absorbed. Scoop the mixture into the pot.

Cover the greens with a paper towel.

Set the saucepan over low heat, cover and steam the greens and bulgur until they're very tender, about 30 minutes. (My stove controls have numbers 0-9. I cooked this on #8 for part of the time, and then #7. I stirred the mixture halfway through, since the bottom layer was cooking faster than the top. The bulgur should have expanded quite a bit. BCG)

Serve the pilaf hot or cold, garnished with the green onions and lemon wedges.

Printable Recipe


Makes about 3/4 cup

1 1/4 lbs. red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
1 small hot pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar

Grind everything in a blender or food processor until as smooth as possible.

Scoop into a medium Pyrex bowl and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes. Stir and Cook 5 minutes more. Repeat until it reduces to about 3/4 cup. It will keep about 4-5 days in the refrigerator, but you can freeze "blobs" of it and store them in the freezer in a zip-lock bag.

Red Lentil patties ready to cook

Printable Recipe

Adapted from http://oldsite.fatfreevegan.com/Meat_subs/kirmizi.shtml

1 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (enough for 1 cup water-- this might be half a cube depending on the brand) OR 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Simmer the lentils with the bouillon and water for about 15 minutes. When the lentils are cooked, all the water should be absorbed. If the lentils are watery, let them sit to absorb the rest of the moisture. When the lentils are cooked and relatively cooled (I scooped them onto a plate and put them in the freezer for a little while--BCG), add the parsley, garlic, onion, and spices. Shape the lentil mixture into small patties.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with oil from a pump-sprayer. Cook the patties at medium heat until crusty on both sides. Be careful turning-- they are fragile. I served these with a mixture of my low-fat vegan mayonnaise mixed to taste with some of the Quick Turkish Red Pepper Paste (recipe above).



Vegan Nutritionista said...

I can't wait to have a little patch of land so I can garden! Have you been making green smoothies? That's another place I would stuff all that extra kale and chard.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Nope, sorry! I prefer just to eat them as a vegetable. My mother served chard often, and I loved even spinach as a child, so I love my greens! In the summer I make alot of Middle Eastern-style food, which uses lots of greens. I'm not a big fan of mixing greens into sweet things, even smoothies.

julie hasson said...

Your greens are gorgeous Bryanna! You must have a green thumb.

That dish looks so good. I have to give it a try. I wonder how much I could cut down on the oil. What do you think?

Sorry I've been MIA lately. I've had more computer crashes and repairs. I'm finally back online (as of last night), minus everything on my hard drive. At least I don't have to organize my email files anymore ;-)

Anonymous said...

Judging from your photos, you are an excellent gardener! Yum--I *love* greens as well, and your kale looks delicious! Oh how I wish I had some land to garden on...that is one downside to city living for sure.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I can't take credit for growing the greens-- DH does that!

Unknown said...

Hi Bryanna, the greens look delicious - lots of local stuff on Salt Spring - and the Turkish burgers remind me of my trip to Istanbul last October. My favorite dish there was the lentil soup! I'm very ignorant about hot peppers - is there a special one I should get for the paste recipe?
Hope you and DH are having a great summer.

Nar said...

Yummmm mercimek koftesi! I get those every time the cafeteria serves them. I like mine with a yogurt sauce though (omnigirl). They make a really good soup here (Istanbul) with the red lentils and mint. Also very tasty.d