CSA Share, Week 2 – plus Garlic-Roasted Garbanzos & Chard over Polenta
Our CSA share this week included some of the same things from last week, and some new pretty eye-catchers: kale, field greens, lettuce, golden swiss chard, French Breakfast radishes, salad turnips, and….greenhouse basil!
This also was the first week of our Finger Lakes Fruit Bowl share, in which we’ll be getting a sampling of seasonal fruit grown on farms in our region. We’re trying this share for the first time this year, and I’m super excited about it. Early June in upstate New York brings strawberries and rhubarb into season, and that’s exactly what we got in our Fruit Bowl share this week: a thick bunch of rosy rhubarb and a quart and pint of wonderfully sweet, ripe strawberries. Both of which I used in a strawberry rhubarb pie this weekend.
I wanted to pass along a tip I learned for storing herbs (learned a bit too late after many bags of herbs perished or rotted into oblivion in my fridge): I cut the stems fresh after bringing them home, stick them in a glass of cold water, place a plastic bag over the tops of the leaves — punch holes in the bag so air can circulate through — then secure the plastic bag onto the glass with a rubber band (sometimes you don’t have to do this if the bag fits pretty snugly). Stored in the fridge this way, the herbs will stay fresh for an unbelievably long time. I’ve had this fresh dill in the fridge for a few weeks and it’s looking as bright and fresh as the day I brought it home from the market. Since it’s cold, the water stays fairly clear of bacteria build-up (unlike when I used to keep herbs in a jar on the counter), though I do usually change it once a week or so. We’ll see how the basil fares, but so far, so good.
We’ve had a stretch of cool, rainy days here recently, which is great for the gardens and farms (as long as we get some sun and drier weather soon — don’t want things to start rotting!) but doesn’t exactly put me in a summery mood. In fact, last night it was in the 50’s, pouring rain, and as I pondered what to make for dinner I couldn’t help but think “I must have polenta.” (My relationship with polenta seems to have a direct correlation to the temperature and degree of precipitation outside, i.e. the colder and wetter it gets, the more I crave a bowl of the soft, comforting stuff.)
So I decided to make a recipe I came across on Epicurious the other day, when I was looking for a new way to use chard. I often like to make sautes of some type of bean, garlic, and chard together, sometimes served over pasta, sometimes over quinoa or brown rice, or even more often over soft polenta (or polenta triangles, if you make the polenta ahead, let it cool, and cut it into wedges.) The difference with this recipe is that the garbanzo beans are roasted in the oven with lots of garlic, shallots, fennel seed, bay leaves, and a generous amount of olive oil.
I used to despise garbanzo beans, having only ever really had them as the cold, mealy, hard nubbins served as part of lackluster salad bars. I really found a difference when I started buying organic canned garbanzos — they’re not mealy at all. This way of roasting them with spices, garlic, and oil rendered them velvety soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth, and unbelievably delicious! I had a hard time not eating most of them straight from the pan (I think I might also try roasting white beans this way…mmm, so delicious.)
Anyway, once the garbanzos are roasted, I started sauteing the chard with more garlic, shallots, and bay leaves, then braised the leaves in some chicken stock I’d made during the day (again, cool + rainy + time inside = Amy makes chicken stock.)
The resulting saute was earthy, garlicky, flavorful, and super, super delicious over a base of soft polenta (to which I’d mixed in a little fontina cheese.) So good! A great vegetarian main course, which we had with a side salad of our CSA field greens, salad turnips, radishes, and buttermilk dill dressing. You could also easily serve the garbanzos & chard over pasta, rice or another grain, or even lightly mashed as a topping for crostini. Yum!
(One last note: if you do serve it with polenta, the soft polenta sets up pretty quickly as it cools — so you can spread any leftovers on a sheet pan to let cool, then cut it into wedges to save for later.)
Garlic-Roasted Garbanzo Beans & Swiss Chard over Polenta
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Instead of polenta, the garbanzo and chard saute would be equally delicious over pasta or any cooked grain.
For the garbanzos:
2 15.5-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (about 3 cups)
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large shallots
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the chard:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
3 small bay leaves
2 shallots, sliced
2 small or 1 large bunch Swiss chard, large ribs trimmed off, leaves coarsely torn
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or storebought low-salt good quality chicken broth)
For the polenta:
4 cups water or milk, or a combination
1 cup polenta (coarse-ground cornmeal), not instant
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated cheese, such as parmigiano-reggiano or fontina
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a Pyrex baking dish (8×8 or 11×7), combine the garbanzos, garlic, shallots, and bay leaves. Sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper, then pour the olive oil over the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the garlic cloves and shallots are soft. Set aside at room temperature until ready to add to the chard.
After you put the garbanzos in to roast, start your polenta. In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water or milk and a teaspoon of salt to the boil. Stream in the polenta, whisking contantly, and continue whisking until the polenta thickens slightly and is suspended throughout the liquid, about 1 minute. Cover the pot, turn down the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir the polenta occasionally; it should be cooking at a rate of a slow bubble.
About 15 minutes before your polenta is finished cooking, make the chard: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and shallots, cover, and cook until the shallots are tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and add the swiss chard, stirring to coat with the olive oil. Add the chicken stock, stir to combine, then cover the pot to braise the chard until it’s wilted and tender.
Uncover the pot and continue to cook until some of the broth has evaporated, then add the roasted garbanzo bean mixture. Stir to combine, cook over medium heat until heated through, a few more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt or pepper as needed.
At this point your polenta should be finished cooking. Turn off the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted, then divide among serving dishes (if you have any leftover, spread it on a sheet pan to cool.)
Spoon the chard & garbanzo mixture, with some of the juices, over the polenta.
Makes 4-6 main course servings.