I have a confession. I am one of those organic, local, free range, antibiotic/pesticide free food buying people. I think they used to call them hippies. And no, it’s not because I watched Food, Inc. In fact, I haven’t watched that movie… it will ruin my life… by making me a vegan… no offense to vegans. I just try to do the best I can and live and eat as humanely as I can. It’s really not hard to do. And don’t give me that crap about how buying organic is too expensive… cut down on the fast food, tv dinners and the four-soda-a-day habit and you’ll have plenty of money to buy better food. Eating healthy has it’s sacrifices, no doubt, but do it right and see how much better you feel. Not only that, educate yourself and find out what is worth buying organic and what’s not. As a general rule, I follow this chart from the Food Network. To learn about sustainable seafood, I use the Seafood Watch Program site found here.
Okay, soap box aside, I feel lucky that Austin is pretty into organic and local produce and meat. And for Christmas Derek’s mom gave me one of the best gifts ever: 8 weeks worth of fresh, seasonal, organic produce and herbs from Johnson’s Backyard Garden! It’s a Community Supported Agriculture program in which the members buy shares of the week’s harvest and pick up a box full of the freshest fruits, veggies and herbs possible! When you pick up your box it’s full of food harvested THAT DAY people! How cool is that! Two reasons why this gets me all giddy (healthfulness aside): the food tastes better than anything you buy at the store and you end up acquiring some unusual items you would usually never buy. For example, I had rutabaga for the first time ever. I didn’t even know what it was when I unloaded my box! But lo and behold, this strange looking root vegetable is delicious, yielding a slightly sweeter taste compared to a potato. Every week is a culinary adventure, my friends.
Tonight, I decided to use a good portion of my share in one amazingly hearty dish. This Swiss Chard and White Bean Stew is one serious veggie-fest. Take your beano if you know what I mean. But it’s healthy as healthy can be and extremely satisfying. Plus, check out my poached egg in the picture! Making poached eggs has been quite arduous for me, but I think I got the technique down using Smitten Kitchen’s tutorial found here. My advice is to slide the egg in the middle of your little whirlpool and leave it the hell alone for 4 minutes. At first I attempted to help it come together by swirling the water once the egg was dropped and ended up with a pot full of little egg white bits. Fail. But the second time I let it do it’s thing and violà, perfect poach! I was kinda proud of myself, if you couldn’t tell.
Swiss Chard and White Bean Stew with Poached Egg (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1 lb Swiss Chard, ribs and stems removed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- about 1 cup carrots, diced
- about 1 cup turnips, diced
- about 1/2 cup celery, diced
- about 1/2 cup shallots, minced
- about 1/4 cup green garlic, white and green parts only and finely sliced (you can use regular garlic also, but cut down the portion to about 4 cloves as green garlic is much more mild)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 15 oz can of white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup pureed San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- about 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano, grated
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 poached egg per serving
- whole grain or peasant bread, toasted in the broiler
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, turnips, celery, chard and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 15 minutes until very slightly browned. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add wine and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Reduce by 3/4. Add beans, broth, tomato puree, thyme and bay leave and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until thick and all the vegetables are soft, about 30-45 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Season to taste.
To assemble: In a shallow bowl, place a piece of toasted bread in the middle. Ladle some stew on top of the bread and place a poached egg on top of the stew. Grate a little pecorino and grind some pepper on top of that to garnish. Enjoy!