Monday, March 20, 2017
Eating of the Green(s)
With the vernal equinox upon us, called Nowruz ("new day") in the Persian calendar and considered the first day of spring in the New World, I've been jonesing for fresh, green things—think nettles, fiddleheads and other early foraged greens. Fortunately for me, contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food has had exactly the same thoughts, and he shared a recipe I'm going to be putting on our table soon.
While the faux Irish celebration of green beer and corned beef has passed, colcannon should be in regular rotation on your dinner table.
Santo Patricio's Colcannon
This an Italian-Irish version of the Irish classic. You can harvest nettles right now (almost anywhere along any river west of the Cascades, but Sauvie Island is a good place to start) or look for them at the farmers' market.
Cook a couple of sliced leeks in olive oil with a good pinch of salt for a few minutes, then add three peeled yellow potatoes cut into rough cubes about 3/4 inch thick. Cook for about 10 minutes, letting the spuds brown just a bit, then add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, drop a bunch of stinging nettles into boiling water. Pull the greens out with tongs after about 30 seconds (heat neutralizes the chemical sting), drain, let cool, and finely chop about 2 cups. Save the rest (and the nettle broth) for another use, maybe fritters.
When the potatoes are done, stir in the nettles. Season with freshly ground black pepper, and check the salt. Cook for a minute or two, then serve hot drizzled with a little more extra virgin.