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Recipes

Filtering by Tag: cheese

Summer's End Gratin

Sarah West

While you could make this recipe at any point during tomato-eggplant season, something about it calls out to the end of summer, when the chill that lingers in the shadows (or jumps right out and owns a whole day) makes you hungry for something comforting and warm. Any kind of eggplant works; to add a little more complexity to the preparation and the resulting flavor, grill the eggplant slices instead of sautéing.

I once cooked 1/2 pound ground lamb with the chard portion of this dish and found it highly satisfying. I've also used queso fresco or feta in place of mozzarella, and mustard greens instead of chard. Keeping the basic architecture the same, the fun part is tailoring the dish to the ingredients you have on hand and the flavors you like best. I imagine, once summer draws to a permanent close, that sliced delicata squash would make a nice substitute for the eggplant and canned whole tomatoes for the fresh ones.


Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds eggplant
Sea salt
Neutral vegetable oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 small finely diced onion
10-12 cups coarsely chopped chard leaves (about 1 pound)
Freshly ground pepper
Several large basil leaves, torn
1 or 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes 
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Slice the eggplants into rounds a scant 1/2-inch thick (you should have about 8-10 slices if using globe eggplant). Heat a ridged cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, brush both sides of each eggplant slice with neutral vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the slices and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, rotating them 45 degrees and cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook on the second side the same way, though they may take less time. Alternately, brush the rounds with oil and bake in a 375-degree oven until soft and nicely colored, about 25 minutes.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for three minutes. Add the chard and a few pinches of salt, cover, and cook until the chard is wilted and tender, 5 minutes or so. Turn the cooked chard into a colander set over a bowl and press with the back of a spoon to remove some of the liquid.

3. Heat the oven to 350-degrees. Lightly oil a round or oval gratin dish large enough to told 6-8 cups.

4. Cover the gratin dish with half the eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the basil, then layer half of the tomato slices on top, followed by half of the mozzarella. Season again with salt and pepper. Strew the chard over the cheese layer and season lightly with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining eggplant, followed by the remaining tomato, and cheese. Tuck any small whole tomatoes here and there among the vegetables.

5. Toss the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon olive oil and strew them over the surface. Bake until bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned, about 35 minutes. Let settle 10 minutes or so before serving.

Based on a recipe from Deborah Madison's, Vegetable Literacy.

Green Mac & Cheese

Sarah West

I was inspired to make this after one of our volunteers brought something similar to a market potluck last year. I love the way the greens cut through the heaviness of homemade mac & cheese, making it seem (almost) healthy. During their brief spring appearance, I like to use nettles because their rich, nutty flavor pairs perfectly with cheese. Any greens will do: spinach, mustards, sorrel, kale, green onion tops, or even broccoli florets all make nice substitutes.  (Want to come to market potlucks? Inquire about volunteer opportunities at the info booth).

Nettles, while uniquely delicious and more nutritious than all other greens combined, come with one catch--they sting! Once boiled or steamed, nettles are perfectly safe to touch, but take care when handling raw leaves. Read more about handling and cooking with nettles here.

Ingredients:

1/2 - 3/4 lb nettles, boiled and drained
1 lb penne pasta (or your favorite shape)
8 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons white flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups half & half
1 pinch red pepper flakes to taste
1 pinch black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg to taste
1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
8 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
8 oz fontina cheese, grated
16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
smoked paprika


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside. Blend nettles and half & half in a food processor and set aside.

2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil and add penne pasta. Boil 8-10 minutes. Pasta should be al dente. Remove from heat, run under cold water, drain and set aside.

3. Place a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of butter. When butter melts, whisk in flour, stirring as flour cooks a minute or two. Add milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Then the sauce is smooth, add half & half, nettles mixture and continue to stir. Add red pepper, black pepper, nutmeg and sherry, stirring continuously. Add the three cheeses, reserving 1/2 C of sharp cheddar for later. Mix well until all of the cheese has melted and the sauce is consistently smooth. Remove from heat.

4. Add pasta to the pot of cheese sauce; stir until well mixed. Pour into prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle top of baking dish with reserved 1/2 C of sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with panko and dot with remaining butter. Sprinkle with smoked paprika.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbling and slightly brown on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe invites creativity: Reduce or increase the amount of greens to your own tastes. Substitute your favorite melty cheeses, or use just sharp cheddar. Skip the panko or use your own homemade bread crumbs. Change up the spices. Try stirring in lightly steamed, whole broccoli or cauliflower florets. Process raw leaves with the half & half instead of cooked for a brighter green (even nettles can be used raw, just be extra careful getting them into the blender).

Recipe adapted from the Hedgebrook Cookbook.