Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tofu with swiss chard; Beets & greens

This is a recipe we've been making for a few years. The wife informs me that she made it up herself by adapting a recipe from the first CSA we joined several years ago. It's a good mix of flavors and very nutritious- along with the beet greens I made, apparently this meal includes two of the top three foods we should eat more of, although it seems I'm a bad person for cooking my beets. The other thing about beets is that they can result in interesting visual effects one to two days later, but since this is a family blog I won't post pictures of that.
First, preparing the beets for cooking- I like cooking beats with their greens because the leaves usually have a salty/bitter flavor that goes well with the sweet root. I cut the pointy part of the root off, then cut at the base of the stem and got rid of the tough stems while keeping the leaves:

Next, I thinly sliced the roots to make them easier to cook through. Cooking them until they are just slightly browned gives them a good crisp outside-soft inside, but again is probably evil health-wise:

Now for the main dish:
1 lb firm tofu
1 large onion
1 bunch swiss chard
1 large tomato
fresh herbs (basil, oregano)
olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 lb pasta (I did spaghetti)
Here's everything laid out for slicing- this is a double recipe, and my onions were small (2 red, one white) so I used 3. The tomatoes and chard were from the Kendall farmer's market and the herbs from the porch (see the previously-photographed plant, which is getting larger each week.) The chard leaves got the same treatment as the beet greens, removing the stems. In fact, I had some deja vu cutting up the chard since it was of the red variety; It's easy to tell the difference by taste, since chard is more cabbage-like as opposed to the aforementioned salty/bitter beet greens.

First, dice the garlic and saute in the olive oil. Then add the onion and cook until somewhat tender, but not too much since there's more cooking ahead. Next add the tofu, toss, and cook about 5 minutes so it firms up, especially if you're not using extra firm. Next come the greens- whenever we cook greens we always overestimate the amount we'll be able to fit into the pot. They always cook down, as you can see from the before and after shots below of both the main dish and the beet greens.

The key is to carefully invert everything so your already cooked stuff ends up on the top and the greens are under it exposed to heat. Cover and cook a few minutes until the greens are darker and more tender. Last add the tomato and chopped herbs, toss and cook about 2-3 more minutes. The tomato's juice along with the water from the greens will make something like a watery sauce. Serve over the pasta. For the kids we kept everything segregated, with uncooked tofu, which they prefer over tofu that "has stuff on it- wash it off!" Also, again with the non-local corn- some people don't like the starch overload of pasta and corn at the same meal, but having both increases the odds that the kids will eat something. Don't let the dog get the corn cob, though.

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