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A Gardener's Kitchen - Winter Greens
Native Sons News

Our recipes feature the season's finest vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers.

Few crops are as welcome in the winter months as crisp, fresh greens. We grow many varieties, both for salads and cooking. Greens are an ideal winter crop for a cold greenhouse almost anywhere in the South. Most varieties can take frost, so the greenhouse needs heat only on the coldest nights.

Among our favorite cooking greens are spinach and Swiss chard, and that southern staple, kale. The latter is so hardy it does fine without the protection of the greenhouse. If you have a bumper crop of greens, you can cook them Southern style in water with a little bacon or ham for seasoning. In the confines of a greenhouse, though, you are likely to have only a few handfuls of leaves at any one time. Such an instance calls for a rustic French dish offered by Jacques Pepin in his delightfully useful cookbook, Cuisine Economique. (Fear not, it' s in English.) Here is an adaptation of his recipe that we recently made, and it turned out wonderfully.

Cayettes with Winter Greens Pepin

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet and saute 1/3 cup chopped onion and 3 chopped scallions until just softened. Add a minced clove of garlic, stir until fragrant, and then add 3 cups assorted fresh cooking greens, such as spinach, Swiss chard, or kale, coarsely chopped. Saute until the greens are wilted but still bright green. Cool to room temperature and reserve.

In a mixing bowl combine 6 ounces ground beef with 3 ounces ground pork and half a large egg. (Break the egg into a dish, beat well, and use a spoon to divide.) Add the reserved cooked greens, a pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper, and a grating or two of nutmeg. Combine well and form into four rounded patties about 3 inches in diameter. Place in a lightly greased shallow baking dish and bake, uncovered, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Transfer to a serving platter, discarding any fat or drippings that may have accumulated in the pan.

Serve the cayettes warm with cornichons, horseradish, and coarse mustard.

You can easily turn this simple dish into an elegant French country dinner for four. Serve a consomme-based soup such as onion for the first course, accompanied by crusty bread. (Don't bother with the cheese topping. Plain onion soup, if made with good stock, is the perfect appetite stimulant.) Accompany the cayettes with steamed potatoes and a steamed green vegetable, such as broccoli or snow peas, both of which are good during winter. If you have used Swiss chard leaves in the cayettes, the stalks can be steamed, made into a gratin, and served alongside the cayettes, as well.

A French meal also calls for a fresh green salad and a garlicky vinaigrette. Our salad greens share the greenhouse with the cooking greens.

Pepin points out that the cayettes are also delicious served cold, as part of a luncheon salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and so forth.


Native Sons News
January 1999 Vol. 1, No. 1
Copyright (C) 1999, John H. Tullock. All rights reserved.
Published by Native Sons
Knoxville, Tennessee
(423) 573-0373
TNNatives@aol.com


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