Oh look, it’s the end of May suddenly.
Lately I have been away comprehensive examing (there should be an ism mafʿul for that, you know what I mean?), conference paper presenting, final paper writing, birthday & graduation logistics coordinating, etc.
But I am back now, and in my old familiar test kitchen in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. I have a few great recipes for greens and a chutney that I’ll be posting over the next few days…only here’s the thing: I can’t remember exactly which greens they were (chard and ?) and I left the necessary cookbooks back home. But there are photos and there is memory and I’m going to do my best. That is the most we can do anyway, now, isn’t it?
Alice Waters’ Greens + Carmelized Onions = Pasta Sauce
First order of business: shout out to Rana and Lizette who bought me these greens as a birthday present. You know your friends know you well when they buy you a bag of greens for your birthday.
Second order of business: like I said, I don’t have the cookbook in front of me and can’t therefore recall which greens you’re supposed to use with this recipe, but that’s ok. I used the ones I had and it turned out delicious.
A cup of chicken broth
A cup of pomegranate juice (Alice Waters asks for red wine, but I had none, and so I used pomegranate juice instead)
4-5 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 large bunch of greens (I used half of each of my two bunches), cleaned and sliced into not-too-thin strips (preserve as many of the stems as possible, we are told)
Pasta (I think I did about a half pound with this recipe)
I think that’s it?
To start: start your pasta water and begin to caramelize your onions. This means start sauteeing your sliced onions in some olive oil and butter on medium high heat:
When they start looking translucent add a spoonful of sugar and reduce the heat. At my recent graduation/birthday dinner with family my cousin remarked that there is simply no shortcut when it comes to caramelizing onions. It just takes 45 minutes. It just does. You have to just hang out with them and poke them around till they caramelize. Fortunately they smell amazing, and you have some other stuff to do now, so you have to be in the kitchen anyway.
Once your onions are well on their way to being caramelized, you’ll add your pomegranate juice (or wine, if you’ve got it/prefer it). Your concoction will now simmer until it becomes a beautiful scrumptious liquidy mash.
In the meantime, bring your chicken broth to a simmer in a large deep saucepan, and then take your beautiful greens and blanch them (probably in batches) for a few minutes in your now-boiling pasta water.
Once blanched, transfer the greens to the now-gently-simmering chicken broth (your kitchen smells really really amazing now). Bonus: your pasta water will turn an amazing shade of green.
Once they’re all added in there, you just let it cook down for a good while till they’re cooked to your liking. Then you add in some caramelized onion mixture (Alice Waters says use half of what’s described above, but after following her directions I decided I would just throw it all in there next time. But then again I really love caramelized onions).
Season with salt and pepper if you haven’t already, mix it up, and it’s ready to serve as a pasta sauce. It’s best with a long flat pasta like fettuccine but all I had on hand was penne and guess what: it tasted good anyway.
More to come!