Cooking up something green is a great way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We met up with a talented young Oklahoma chef recently to get some of his ideas for enjoying the fresh local greens that are appearing in area markets, farmer's markets, community-supported agriculture and our fast-growing Oklahoma Food Cooperative. I love the synergy created by Oklahomans dedicated to providing fresh local food.
Chef Guy Romo, of Moto Chef, is just one of many Oklahoma chefs who incorporates local foods into their menus. Chef Romo was full of ideas about cooking with fresh greens. Meeting in the commercial kitchen behind the scenes of the Urban Agrarian Market, the chef made some fantastic dishes for us. If those were a sampling of this young man's talent, then customers of his family-owned Moto Chef food truck are destined to return for more.
We also met up with owners of yet another new Oklahoma business offering some amazing things for the kitchen and home, all related to the olive. Maggie Kite and Rane Peterson, partners in Olive & Co., shared just a few of their olive-inspired oils and vinegars. We don't grow olives in Oklahoma, but, like other ingredients in chef Guy's cadre of enhancements for greens, little pairings of oil and vinegar proved amazing additions to our Oklahoma Table.
Chef Romo made a lovely pesto of baby kale, a few sprigs of fresh basil and toasted Oklahoma pecans from Anderson Organics. He used some grated Caciocavera cheese from Lovera's in Krebs and his own roasted-garlic puree with Olive & Co. traditional olive oil. He suggested preserving this fresh early spring kale by freezing it for the convenience of using it later.
Chef Guy's composition of braised greens, kale and spinach with smoke-kissed red quinoa was dressed with basil balsamic then topped with a perfectly poached egg fresh from Heaven Sent Farm in Tahlequah. This is my idea of the perfect breakfast, brunch or lunch. It would be an awesome late-night super-healthy choice if you want something to conclude an evening out on the town.
Moto Chef's devoted Facebook and Twitter customers are sure to be lucky enough to see some of these things offered on the menu soon. He is usually parked near Granddad's at 317 NW 23 from 6 p.m. to late night. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.
Maggie Kite made one of my favorite new snack foods: kale chips. Just try this and I think you will be hooked. Cooked at a fairly low temperature to preserve the nutrient value and perked up with a bit of olive oil and salt, they are wonderful. I like kosher salt, but there are a number of flavor-infused ones out there from around the world. Maggie used a chipotle-infused olive oil on the kale we tasted and it provided a perky little kick to the kale.
You will probably want to start with plain olive oil if you are cooking with the younger generation, but children love this snack, especially when they can participate in the preparation. They can help massage the oil into the kale leaves before they go into the oven. I have a feeling I'm going to be making this almost as much as I do a simple saute of kale as a healthy side dish.
I get inspired each time I stop by Urban Agrarian to see what other new Oklahoma product makes its way into the market. Located in the old public market area, it is a good place to pick up locally produced foods on your way home from work if you are in the downtown area. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
I am not often in Oklahoma City on Saturdays, but another inspiration comes from the producers at the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City Farmers Market. This last week I was thrilled to see all the fresh-picked greens available. I found some tender little baby turnips still attached to the turnip greens, whole heads of Romaine, kales, braising greens, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula and some producers willing to share their favorite techniques for growing and cooking them.
Here are some ways greens have made it onto our own Oklahoma Table: Add some kale or spinach to your favorite bean soup, incorporate spinach or kale into spaghetti sauce or a lasagna, saute them with chopped onions in butter then scramble with some eggs, incorporate them into filling for a potpie, incorporate them into a salad or add some greens to your smoothie for St. Patrick's Day. Try baking a dish layered with a base of black-eyed peas and covered with collards and topped with cornbread batter. Spinach steamed or sauteed then seasoned with a splash of your favorite vinegar.
Give greens a try and you will probably be cooking and enjoying them long after this special holiday.
Olive & Co.'s Kale Chips
Maggie Kite shared her method of preparing kale chips from fresh kale. The trick here is to keep an eye on them and “crisp” them in a low oven. Kite chooses unique flavorings using their infused olive oils massaged into the fresh kale leaves. It is worth a stop at the shop to sample and find your favorite for making these chips.
2 cups kale leaves, washed, spun in salad spinner, dried between paper or dish towels and torn or cut from tough center stems.
1 tablespoon olive oil, flavored or plain
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds, optional