A Conversation About Greens

Today I had the pleasure to speak with a dynamic group of women about greens...some of the group had heard me talk several times over the last few years and some I just met today.
The topic greens...kind of a sprawling topic...
The hostess gathered a fantastic array of oils and vinegars for the event that we used for the demonstration. She provided mason jars so participants could mix their own dressings after lunch and take them home.
I brought a variety of spring greens from Path Valley Cooperative...mum leaves, wild cress, pea shoots, red ribbed dandelion greens, fava bean greens and spinach.
I also brought a soup that I made with stinging nettles that we served in small cups to sip on as the talk began.
I spoke about the individual greens, making salads, cooking greens and making soup. I presented the idea that having great oils, vinegars, salts and freshly ground black pepper in your larder invites experimentation and lots of greens eating. We made a few dressings but instead of giving recipes I encouraged the idea of experimentation and variety.
I also brought some wild ramps, baby leeks and red spring onions that we chopped finely and roasted quickly with a variety of greens in a hot oven.
Conversation was plentiful and jumped from relevant subject to subject including smoke point, sources, nutrition, washing methods of greens, dressings for young picky eaters, organic vs non-organic, olive oil classifications, farm market vs grocery store, how to grow your own...
After talking for a while we got plates of salad greens, wilted greens, whole wheat walnut bread and black bean spread. After the lunch we ate a rhubarb banana crumble with a mint sauce. While enjoying the food the conversation continued.

Recipe sketches from today to use as a starting point for experimentation...

Stinging Nettle Soup
grapeseed oil
1 onion finely sliced
1# clean stinging nettles (if you purchase dirty use rubber gloves to wash because they will irritate your skin)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat stock pot over medium high heat. Lightly coat the bottom with grapeseed oil and cook onion until lightly browned. Add stinging nettles and enough water to just submerge the greens. Add some salt, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Puree until very smooth in a high speed blender. Re-season with salt and pepper and serve.
-You could make this soup with a variety of different greens.

Sesame, Ginger, Rice Wine Vinegar Dressing
2 part sesame paste
2 part rice wine vinegar
1 part sesame oil
1/2 part soy sauce
1 part water
drop of agave nectar
finely grated ginger to taste
salt to taste

Start with these basic proportions, mix thoroughly and then adjust to your personal taste. Sesame paste can be substituted with peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter.

Rhubarb Crumble
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup milk or soy milk or almond milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar plus additional sugar for fruit
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
rhubarb sliced
banana sliced

Combine oatmeal, milk, oil, 1/2 cup sugar. agave nectar, baking powder and salt in a mixer and process until oatmeal breaks down into smaller pieces, about 1 minute.
In a large bowl combine rhubarb, banana . Toss fruit with enough sugar for fruit to be lightly coated with sugar (approximately 1 tablespoon of fruit for every 2 cups of fruit).
Place fruit in an oven proof dish and cover with oatmeal topping.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until top is golden brown and fruit is soft.
-This cobbler recipe can be used will all types of fresh fruit, less sugar can be used if you are using sweet fruits

Mint Sauce
juice and meat from 1 young coconut
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup fresh mint
1 tablespoon Artisan Coconut Butter
Agave Nectar to taste
large pinch of pink Himilayan salt

In a small pot combine coconut milk and mint. Bring to boil and remove from heat, let mint seep for at least 20 minutes. Remove mint from coconut milk and discard the mint.
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender, chill before serving.
-This sauce is a great compliment to most fresh fruit and many fresh fruit desserts. It can also be frozen in an ice cream maker resulting in a delicious frozen dessert