Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta

I’m due for a follow up on the last post, Chard Stem Hummus! What did I make with the de-stemmed leaves? Something unbelievably easy. Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta.
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You probably already know that the chard leaves lend themselves to a wide range of recipes. The leaves show up in recipes calling for some tomato here, a few dried fruits and nuts there, a touch of vinegar, or perhaps a little cheese. Last week I enjoyed Chard, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Crepes; also easy and delicious. I recently finished skimming through the expansive the book Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison. Deborah lists the following as good companions for chard:DSC_9290

  • olive oil, butter, sesame oil
  • quinoa, rice, potatoes, white beans, lentils, chickpeas, pasta
  • garlic, thyme, cilantro, basil, cumin, saffron, nutmeg
  • fresh lemon, aged red wine vinegars
  • eggs, cream, Gruyère, Parmesan cheese, tahini
  • My selected recipe is spot on with several of the recommendations. As for eggs, I’m not one of those people who thinks to reach for eggs as a dinner ingredient (besides in crepe and other batters or dough). However, in this recipe I can easily imagine the soft polenta replaced with soft scrambled eggs, served with some rustic toast on the side.

    Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta
    Adapted from Cooking Light on myrecipes.com
    Scaled to serve 2

    IngredientsDSC_9287
    a few slices prosciutto or pancetta
    , about 1 ounce, cut or torn into 1/4-inch pieces
    Cooking spray
    1 Tablespoon garlic
    , minced
    3/4 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
    , chopped
    4 Cups Swiss chard leaves, coarsely chopped
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1 Cup prepared polenta
    , cooked from yellow cornmeal by following this recipe (scale down by at least half if feeding only 2 people) or freshly made instant polenta cooked according to package directions
    1/8 cup (.5 ounce) Parmesan cheese, shaved

    Head a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Cook prosciutto about 10 minutes, until crisped. Removed the crispy pieces from pan and set aside.

    I love the flavor added with this step, but it sure makes a mess of the stovetop!

    I love the flavor added with this step, but it sure makes a mess of the stovetop!


    Add garlic and stir into the drippings in the pan for about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and add thyme. Raise the stove temperature to bring the mixture to a boil. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes to reduce by half.

    Add chard, salt, and pepper. Toss to incorporate.
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    Cover the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until chard is tender, about 3 minutes.

    Spoon over polenta and top with prosciutto and Parmesan shavings.
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    Spice-Roasted Salmon with Green Beans and Rice

    The whole spring-forward-daylight-savings-thing is a killer. In spite of the fact I tried to go to bed early last Saturday night, I was dragging every morning thereafter. My distaste was only slightly dampened by noticing sunlight later in the evenings. If only there was a way to experience the thrill of extra daylight without losing sleep. Can’t the clock switch from 4:00 to 5:00 pm on a Monday?

    I really didn’t feel like cooking when I got home from the gym last Tuesday evening. I was tempted to make my dinner out of a mishmash of snacks and cheese; maybe I’d go as far as to open some boxed pasta or a can of beans. The fact that I had fresh fish in the refrigerator, waiting to be cooked, meant I needed to overcome these impulses.

    I’m glad I sucked it up. It doesn’t take long to put together a fresh, complete weeknight meal like this, getting in my omega 3s and vitamins. Green beans and salmon cook quickly (especially with subjective measures of done-ness, so you can be even quicker if you want) and rice is hands off. I only had to chop 3 small things and measure a couple of others. Easy breezy!

    The spice seasoning for the fish is garam masala. I have been making garam masala by toasting fresh whole spices at home, and one of the last times I made it, I made a pretty large batch.
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    While we’re on the topic of spices, I have a reason to mention my spice cabinet organization.
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    As you can imagine, it can be hard to keep track of a dozen little by-the-ounce plastic baggies of spices. Occasionally I relocate them to other empty spice containers, but they take less space in the bag. I found stackable plastic flat containers at the Container Store which have 6 shallow compartments. I can arrange several spices front to back in the compartments. Then I label the front with dry erase marker with each item in order. This way, I can see what I have with a quick glance, and I’m maximizing the space.
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    What’s my organizational scheme for the rest of the spices? Well, you know how it is with your own kitchen. I just have a feel for where to find certain ones, particular ones that are used together in the same recipes. This is one of the reasons it is so utterly challenging to cook in someone else’s kitchen, isn’t it? (At least, the majority of someones who don’t alphabetize their spices.)

    Back to the cooking! A note on timing and temperature: the steps to this meal include boiling some basmati rice, blanching the green beans, sautéing the green beans, and pan-roasting the fish. My husband will tell you, I have a “thing” about my food being served at the proper temperature (and I pay close attention to this at restaurants). That usually takes the form of me wanting hot food to be served noticeably hot. You’re going to want to eat your salmon freshly cooked, so it should be the last thing you finish, obviously. I wanted to minimize dirty dishes, so, while the rice was cooking, I blanched the green beans and then sautéed them first in the same pan I planned to use for the salmon. While the salmon was finishing up later, I gave the beans a quick reheat in the emptied blanching pot.

    Then everything got cold as I was taking pictures, of course. No one ever mentions that!

    Spice-Roasted Salmon with Yogurt Sauce
    For 2
    Adapted from Cooking Light

    1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    2 sustainable salmon fillets, 6 ounces each
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt,
    divided
    about 4 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 2% preferred
    1 Tablespoons green onions
    , thinly sliced, plus extra to garnish rice
    1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
    1 lemon
    , cut into wedges

    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat.

    Sprinkle fillets evenly with garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add fillets to pan, skin side down. Cook about 7 minutes; turn over, and cook 1-2 minutes or until desired degree of done-ness and temperature.
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    While the salmon is cooking, combine ingredients for the sauce. Whisk 2 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, yogurt, green onions, and lime juice in a small bowl.

    The original recipe called for a combination of creme fraiche or sour cream and yogurt for the sauce. I only had Greek yogurt, which is my go-to substitute for creme fraiche and sour cream anyway, so I used the yogurt alone. It still tasted great to me.

    Dollop mixture onto fillets, when serving, along with lemon wedges on the side.


    Indian-spiced Green Beans

    From Martha Stewart Living

    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    , plus more for seasoning
    1 pound string green beans, stem ends trimmed
    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
    1/2 large or 1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces
    ), thinly sliced into rounds or half-moons
    2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

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    Remember, you can keep your fresh ginger in the freezer to make it last so much longer!

    Remember, you can keep your fresh ginger in the freezer to make it last so much longer!


    Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Once water is boiling, add 1 teaspoon salt and string beans.
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    Cook about 3 minutes (the beans should turn bright green), and drain into a colander. Transfer to ice bath and slosh the beans around. Drain again.

    Set the large skillet over high heat, and add vegetable oil. When hot, add mustard seeds, and cook about 30 seconds, until seeds start to pop.
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    Add onion, and cook, stirring until they begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add ginger, and cook 1 minute more. Add reserved string beans, and cook, stirring until hot. Season with salt to taste.
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    Dinner is served! I realized later that my salmon was incorrectly placed here with the skin side up.

    Dinner is served! I realized later that my salmon was incorrectly placed here with the skin side up.

    Mmm, that's better.

    Mmm, that’s better.

    Shrimp and Grits

    We’re eating healthy again! Sort of. Matt is in a weight loss competition among volunteer fire department members. So he is counting calories.  And I don’t want him to shed way more than me so I’m going to make a little more of an effort. Sadly, that means less ice cream, and more moderation.

    You wouldn’t think that shrimp and grits is a low-calorie option. But I pulled this recipe out of a recent Cooking Light magazine, and supposedly one serving is less than 300 calories!  And Matt loves shrimp and grits, as a rule, so I was excited to make it for him.  The only issue was that I did have to do a bit of actual grocery shopping for it. I did have the the half-and-half hanging around, and the green onions from the farm share. Polenta makes yet another appearance. The shrimp is from a frozen 2 pound bag from Costco that hangs out in the freezer. The mushrooms I did buy fresh.

    Shrimp and Grits with Mushrooms
    Adapted from Cooking Light
    Serves: approximately 6

    • 3 Cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter
    • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits or cornmeal polenta
    • 1.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 Cup slightly packed in)
    • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

    • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

    • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

    • 1 Cup chopped white onion
    • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
    • 8-ounces of presliced mushrooms (I used 4 ounces white mushrooms and 4 ounces exotic mushroom mix)

    • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you’re afraid of spice, lower the amount to 1/4 teaspoon)
    • 1/4 Cup half-and-half
    • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 Cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

    • 1/3 Cup chopped green onions

    Bring 3 cups water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. While heating, make sure most ingredients are chopped, measured, and ready.
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    Heat a large nonstick pan and cook bacon until crisp.  While this is cooking, you could whisk the grits/cornmeal into the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, until smooth and desirable.
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    Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cheese. Cover to keep warm.

    A note about the cheese: the original recipe said 2 ounces, about 1/2 cup. But the size of your grated Parmesan must make a huge difference, because with my trusty kitchen scale I was well over the 1/2 Cup mark on my bowl and had just passed 1 ounce.  It seemed like a lot of cheese to me, so I stopped there.  I didn’t miss the parmesan flavor too much, more so on the second day reheat, so I would say 1.5 ounces is a safe bet.
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    Add white onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown and give off liquid, stirring frequently. (At this point you could sautee a vegetable for the side, like green beans with garlic and red pepper like I did).
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    Add shrimp and red pepper; cook 3 minutes.
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    Combine half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. A note about the flour: you will see from my final product that the sauce is not quite as thick as I would  like. I used the original recipe, which called for 1 tablespoon of flour, but it did not really thicken up. I suspected that I should have mixed in more flour. My suspicion was proven correct based on this website at least, so I updated the website to specify 2 tablespoons.

    I suppose the texture of my sauce could have been affected by the fact that I used lower-protein Better Than Bouillion Chicken Base–which, for the record, I bought because Cook’s Illustrated did a chicken stock/chicken broth test and rated this one of the top choices!
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    Add broth, flour mixture, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened a bit.
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    Top with green onions. Serve shrimp mixture with grits and green beans.
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    Another great thing: it only took about 30 minutes to make this pretty fancy-looking meal!
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