Having just arrived back home from, most of the week in Cleveland on-site at our client and a quick camping overnight from Friday to Saturday on the way back to Columbus, I was in the mood to cook something homey. Being gone for most of the week meant I had some greens to use from our previous and current Yellow Bird shipments. These included a bunch of purple kale, a beautiful batch of Swiss Chard, some Daikon Radishes and yellow onion. As usual, all locally grown here in Ohio.
It was Sunday morning so I spent some lazy time in bed with fresh coffee I had made Captain Underpants style. It’s Sunday. No schedules, so hey! I had my copy of The New American Heart Association Cookbook in hand and came across a gratin idea. I like this cook book as it has all sorts of creative ways to cook without the usual amounts of fat, salt, and sugar you normally see in traditional collections. Like using non-fat ricotta, fat-free milk, applesauce in place of sugar or fats (at times) and any number of seasonings to bump up the flavor since salt is a luxury. But you also have flavor punches allowed from things like low-fat cheddar and full fledged Parmesan cheese, in lesser amounts but just as powerful flavor wise, in the mix.
I came across a recipe for Collard Greens and Artichoke Gratin this morning. I used this as a template substituting the Collards for the Kale and Swiss Chard that I had, however. Also, using this recipe and it’s technique for precooking Daikon Radishes before making a totally decadent gratin out of them, I pre-boiled the sliced Daikons for 15 minutes then proceeded to layer as the Heart Association recipe called for.
I grabbed my copy of The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everybody then flipped to the section on gratins. They call these things “enduring, unpretentious dishes that are a boon for any cook.” Citing that they are versatile enough for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike in that they can either play center stage or ride shotgun and serve as a side dish. They also state that presentation wise, they are well suited for shallow round cooking dishes with as much surface area as possible to give the diners a chance to enjoy the crisp of the breadcrumbs and cheese mixture on the top of an otherwise soft and savory center.
As a finishing touch, I layered some panko and Parmesan on the top and baked covered for 15 minutes then removed the cover to allow browning and crisping of the top for about 20 minutes.
In the end, it was a good way to get my greens for the day, make some lunches ahead for the week that is about to begin and enjoy learning more about how versatile gratins are in the meantime. Also, the flavor of the Daikons sort of shone in contrast to the hearty greens. The balance of flavors and textures was pretty great actually.
This week’s goals include ditching breakfast and trying out the whole 12 hour fast thing. Bringing my own coffee to work instead of going to Starbucks and packing a healthy lunch and set of snacks to munch on through the day. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get on the overnight oats bandwagon finally. Diet and lifestyle are both a process. Things ebb and flow but it should always be fun and satisfying.