The Delights of Winter, Cooking with Bitter Greens

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The best discovers come from the ingredients that are less “obvious”. Learning to work with , and truly utilizing vegetables that are in season can be challenging. Give a Chef a hundred pounds of potatoes, easy. Even the pickiest of guests eat potatoes and there are a million and one popular ways to prepare a potato. Give a Chef  belgian endive, frisee, radicchio, turnip greens, or dandelion greens in bulk and watch the magic happen. It takes creativity and imagination to take less common, and sadly less popular ingredients, and make them the star of the plate. “Bitter” Greens are one the best ingredients of the winter season. Its learning how to work with their bitter profile that takes time.

The first trick of the trade is acid. If you want to experiment with simple sautéed greens, try using fresh lemon juice. Lemon juice will balance and brighten even the most simple greens, such as spinach or kale. Another great way to bring bitter greens onto the plate is to serve them with a more rich side kick. A great steak such as a rib eye or new york strip pairs perfectly with bitter greens. The Italians are masters at working with winter greens and you will find that the bitterness of radicchio all but disappears when folded into an unctions pasta dish. Flat bread has been a go to for me this season because, lets be honest, everyone will eat a dish that looks like a pizza. Its delicious and comforting and a great way to eat in season.

Radicchio & Shiitake Flatbread

Flatbread Dough
Yields 24 oz, enough for 4 flatbreads or 2 -14 inch rounds

1 cup of warm water
¼ teaspoon of sugar
¼ oz active dry yeast
14 oz “00” flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1½ olive oil
*I used Anson Mills pizza flour, available online

In a mixing bowl add water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow to bloom, about 5 minuets. In a bowl add flour, salt, and olive oil. Add the yeast mix to the flour. Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix on low for 3-5 minutes. Turn out the dough into a floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds, shape into a ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen for 45 minuets to rise. After the dough was risen, punch down and reshape into a ball. Proceed with flatbread recipe, or wrap and place in fridge and save for up to 24 hours.

Turnip Green Salsa Verde
Yields around 1 cup
1 oz turnip greens (around 1 small bunch)
1 oz parsley (around 1 bunch)
1 oz of pea shoots*
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
½ cup of olive oil
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
*Can substitute with arugula or watercress as needed.

In a medium sauce pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in turnip greens and parsley and blanch for 45 seconds. Remove from boiling water and submerge in ice water to cool. Remove from water and squeeze to remove any excess water. Place in a blender with fresh pea shoots, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt. Blend on high for 10-20 seconds until pureed.

Radicchio & Shitake Flatbread
Yields 1- 18 inch rectangular shaped flatbread

6 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 oz maitake mushrooms
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tsp of salt
6 oz of flatbread dough
¼ cup turnip green salsa verde
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
3 oz chopped radicchio (around 1 small head)
fresh black pepper

For the mushrooms:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl toss shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Spread evenly on sheet tray and bake for 12 minuets or until lightly golden brown. Set aside. Adjust heat of oven to 400 degrees.

For the Flatbread:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface using a wooden rolling pin. You can shape it how you like, I tend to gear towards a rectangular shape. The dough will spring back slightly. Make sure to roll it thin, about 1/8 inch thick for this recipe. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of olive oil on the flatbread. Spread the turnip green salsa verde over the dough. Using a teaspoon, drop rustic piles of ricotta where you see fit. Scatter the roasted mushroom and radicchio over the dough. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 16 minuets. The thickness of your dough will impact you baking time, so keep an eye on it. Enjoy immediately.

 

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