Friday, September 10, 2010

A seasonal gratin

The goodies are piled high at the farmer's market today. I visited the market on Dahlia Street, outside the Queens Botanical Garden, to pick up some produce for the weekend. The radishes and all the beautiuful greens were particularly tempting.
This is the moment I have been waiting for: the first crisp tart apples of the season. The first bite, a resounding snap of the skin followed by a rush of sweet juicy flesh always sends me over the moon! The arugula looked fantastic too, fragrant with that nutty aroma. Ah, the end of summer. Not so bad I guess.

The market had so many pretty bundles of leafy greens, but these mustard greens looked so tender and fresh I had to have them. There were some young leeks being offered as well and my cooking fantasies began. I had an inclination to make some type of egg based gratin with the mustard greens and leeks, but I was a little nervous because mustard greens can be sharp and domineering in a dish. I was concerned they would be too bitter to make a nice egg dish. Taking it cautiously I sauteed up the leeks and some shallots and then added the chopped mustard greens, cooking everything down till tender. I finished the cooking with a splash of white wine and some grated nutmeg for a little sweetness. So far so good. The greens had a tiny bite, but it was fairly mild. Everything goes into the food processor with the eggs and some grated cheese. I poured it all into a buttered baking dish and topped it with more cheese and then into the oven for 20 minutes.
It came out looking so pretty, and then I tasted it. Yippee!! Sooooooooo GOOD! The greens were definitely assertive, but not overbearing. They gave the dish a really mature deep flavor, so much more interesting than if I had used spinach. 

Mustard Greens & Leek Gratin
3 Tbs. Butter
1 leek, white and green parts chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cups chopped mustard greens
splash of white wine
1/2 teas. grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
4 eggs
3 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (any one or combination of parsley, tarragon, basil. dill)
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375F
Butter a small baking dish with one Tbs. of butter and set aside. Heat the 2 remaining Tbs butter in a saute pan. Add the leeks and the shallots and cook slowly for about 8 minutes. Add the chopped mustard greens and let it cook down slowly for 10 minutes. When the greens have wilted add a splash of white wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and continue to simmer for 5 minutes till all the vegetables are tender. Put the cooked greens mixture into a food processor and add the eggs and the Gruyere cheese. Process for about 30 seconds till ingredients are a uniform size and well combined. Pour mixture in to the buttered baking dish and top with the Romano cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until eggs are set.

serves two as a lunch entree or 4 as a side dish

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