Happy New Year!
In law school in Virginia, officially the South, I learned that eating black-eyed peas for the new year was supposed to bring good luck. Huh! In briefly researching for this blog post, I further learned that Sephardic Jews have been eating black-eyed peas for the new year as early as the year 500! Double huh!
A few years later, in Cooking Club, one of the hostesses planned a “good luck foods for the new year” theme – and I was floored to learn that many cultures have their own good luck foods for the new year. An hour into shucking like 8 oysters, I learned a lesson or two about shucking, the most important one being “leave it to the pros,” but also learned that foods like grapes, cooked greens, legumes, pork, fish, and round cakes are seen as “lucky” or “prosperous” for the new year.
So I thought this would be a fun “Good Luck New Year’s” dish. Greens – like collards and kale – are seen as “lucky” because they are the color of money, and some reports also say they are flat like paper money. Whether you believe such tales, and whether you would confuse lacinato kale for a Benjamin, you will not be able to argue with the deliciousness and healthiness of this dish.
I have made it like 5 times in the last few weeks. I’m kind of obsessed.
But there is nothing to not obsess over. A casserole dish of these Good-Luck Healthy Cheesy Greens and Farro contains cups and cups and CUPS of fresh healthy greens; less than one ounce of cheese per serving; and farro, an ancient grain with a great texture. It can be a meal unto itself, or pairs very well with a lean protein (pictured here with poached chicken breast). Dish it into a disposable 8″ x 8″ baking pan, and pair it with a prepared rotisserie chicken for a very thoughtful, healthy, and hearty get-well-soon drop-off dish, which won’t leave the recipient drowning in carby pasta casseroles.
Do not get me wrong. I love a pasta casserole.
But I also love these greens, and will eat them guilt-free. You can mix it up with your greens in this dish and try different varieties. I have used everything from bunches of organic kale from whole foods to a quick grab of mixed cooking greens (spinach, baby kale, bok choy, etc.) from a much a less-shmancy establishment. Those big bags of chopped greens you never knew what to do with? Try this.
And to top it all off … this dish is done in 30 minutes, if you prep the farro in advance, or find the 10-minute cooking variety.
This is also a great dish to commit to memory, when you find yourself at the store without your shopping list. Onion, Garlic, Greens, Stock, Farro, 3 Cheeses. Check, check, and check.
Happy, healthy, prosperous new year!
- .5 - 1 sweet or yellow or white onion
- 3 large cloves garlic, sliced, minced, or zested
- 10 cups fresh greens - try starting with a bunch of chard, a bunch of lacinato kale, and a bunch of curly kale - and mix it up from there for your next batch
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 2 cups cooked farro
- 2 Tablespoons light cream cheese (or neufchatel)
- 2 Tablespoons shredded provolone
- 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan (plus more for serving if you would like)
- Dice the onion and heat a large pot while you are chopping. Although everything will cook down (considerably!), you need a little room to work with in the pot before it does. Add a Tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil to the pan, and when it gets thin and shimmers, it is ready.
- Add the onion, and cook for about 3-5 minutes. If you are using chard, slice the stems and add them in with the onions.
- While the onions are cooking, wash and chop the greens into small pieces. I like to slice lacinato kale and chard into ribbons, and curly kale into pieces no larger than 2" x 2".
- Add the garlic to the onions, and cook for 30 seconds - 1 minute, until you can just start to smell the garlic.
- Add the greens in batches, allowing them to wilt. If the pot gets too dry, add just a bit of the vegetable or chicken stock.
- When all the greens are wilted, add the rest of the stock, and salt and pepper to taste. This is a lot of greens, so you may think you need a lot of salt, but the cheese you will add brings sodium with it too. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, keeping an eye on it because different greens have different moisture, and you don't want it to dry out. Add more stock if you need to.
- Although the stock should mostly be absorbed by now, if there is some remaining, it's fine, because you will be adding the farro, which will soak up some liquid.
- After this time, turn off the heat and remove the pot from heat. Stir in the cheeses, making sure they melt and are evenly distributed. Stir in the farro and distribute it as well.
- You can add parmesan breadcrumbs to the top and broil for a minute or two, or you can be done!
Adapted from: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/creamed-greens-farro