Saturday, March 10, 2012

Collard Greens Braised with Bacon, Tomato and Rice

This is hearty, healthy comfort food - yeah, I just said bacon and healthy in the same breath. It only takes a tiny bit of bacon to get that delicious flavor; tomatoes and a little chicken broth add to the umami. I used oven-roasted tomatoes in had in the freezer from last year's garden. Collard greens are great tasting and great for you. I don't think they're bitter at all, but maybe it's one of those genetic things where people have different tastebuds. Rice soaks up the flavor and makes this a full meal. It's fast, too!

1 or 2 strips bacon, chopped
1 bunch collard greens
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 can (14 oz.) tomatoes or 1/2 C. roasted tomatoes
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 C. rice
Salt and pepper

Brown bacon in a large skillet on medium heat. Remove stems from collards and chop into 1-inch pieces. Add olive oil, onions and collards to the skillet, and cook until softened. Add tomatoes, broth and rice, and simmer for 20 minutes, until rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serves 2.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Savory Stuffed Apples

Baked apples don't have to be limited to dessert! When I saw a recipe for savory baked apples in Cooking Light, I knew I had to try it. The original recipe called for brown rice, but I substituted farro for a nuttier taste; quinoa would also be delicious. These unusual grains may seem exotic, but I've seen them at more and more stores, even at Costco recently. If you want to use brown rice, just start it cooking when you start preheating the oven. For a vegetarian version, leave out the sausage and substitute mushrooms, or more walnuts. Use the biggest apples you can find, and search out some of the tangier varieties like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.

1 C. chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 C. farro or quinoa
1/2 t. dried sage
2 T. olive oil
1/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1/8 t. red chile powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/4 C. chopped walnuts, toasted
4 large apples (or 8 small to medium apples)
1/2 C. shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Carve out the center of each apple, leaving a shell about 1/2 inch thick (be sure to leave the bottom so the stuffing doesn't fall out). Chop the apple flesh finely and reserve it. Bake apple shells about 25 minutes, until just tender.

Meanwhile, combine broth, grain and sage in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes, until grain is tender. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium flame. Add sausage and brown, breaking up into very small pieces with a spatula. Add reserved apple flesh, garlic, onion, carrot, red chile, and cinnamon. Cook until tender, then season with salt as desired. Mix with cooked grain and toasted walnuts. Fill apples with grain mixture. If desired, top with cheese and broil 5 minutes to melt. Serves 4.