I am a true Northwest girl. Salmon is a food group unto itself and my body craves stews and soups much more so than a great salad. The longer I live here, though, the more anxious I become for some sunshine so I guess I’m a bit of a contradiction. Nonetheless, the last couple of weeks of unexpected weather bliss have knocked my belly into confusion. I mean, I’m the kind of organized freak who has lunch and dinner planned out on a piece of paper that looks like a calendar (yes, I still write on paper) for an entire month and no where in the beginning of May did I plan for 80+ degree weather. I’ve lived here my whole life. That’s just not done, you know?
Okay, there have been years in the past when May has given us a preview of the summer to come. My birthday is in May and, growing up, that’s the month we usually cleaned the pool for my party. Then my sister and I would pester mom and dad to let us jump in as soon as the water reached 60° . When we realized they weren’t walking downstairs and across the deck to verify the temperature, we even swam at more ungodly temperatures than that. My how times have changed. You would only catch me dead in water under 80° at this stage in the game.
So, when it dipped down to 72° on Mom’s Day, I knew the kale that was beginning to wilt in my fridge was finally going to see its place on my table in the form of ragout. Kale is all the rage, isn’t it? You can tell when an ingredient becomes popular because it goes up in price dramatically at the grocery store. You’re innocently walking down aisles, mindlessly reaching for what you normally reach for…carrots, broccoli, radishes…“What the…am I in the nut aisle? Did I just pour a pound of pine nuts in my cart (for you who don‘t know, pine nuts are $15-$20/lb)?” No, that’d be kale. A few years and hundreds of articles touting its health benefits later and…voila…it’s like gold…or pine nuts.
Never fear, it’s come down in price the last month or so. So pick up a bunch because this recipe really will hit the spot and then you can add it into your fall rotation…since the sun is coming back soon. If you’ve never used kale, do cut the rib out of the center. It’s always recommended because it doesn’t cook up well.
Mushroom and Black-Eyed Pea Ragout
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced vertically
¼ lb shiitake mushrooms, tough part of stems removed, thickly sliced
¼ lb mixed mushrooms (such as cremini, baby bella and oyster mushrooms), sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 ½ C mushroom or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ C red wine
2 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, drained
½ tsp salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
¼ tsp honey
1/8 tsp Tabasco
1 bunch hearty greens (kale, turnip, mustard or chard) washed, thinly sliced and blanched
Fresh shaved Parmesan, optional.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion, mushrooms and garlic; sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomato paste, wine, black-eyed peas, salt, pepper, honey and Tabasco; bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Stir in greens; cook until thoroughly heated. Makes 6 servings.
Recipe taken from Relish and created by Crescent Dragonwagon.
When cooking with wine, I use whatever red wine I have on hand if the recipe doesn’t specify. The rules of thumb are 1. Never use a generic “cooking wine” 2. Use what you’d enjoy drinking by the glass but it doesn’t have to be a $20 bottle.
Originally, this recipe suggests spooning the ragout over Parmesan Polenta. While I’ve tried this, I prefer to stay away from corn and choose healthier options. I’ve served this successfully over polenta, barley, mashed potatoes and brown rice.
This recipe says to blanch the greens. I’ve never done that. I just throw them in at the end for 10 minutes or so.
Wine suggestion: Cabernet Franc due to the strong presence of mushrooms in this dish; pairing earthy with earthy