Pinch me. I think I was dreaming. This past week I was in the most beautiful place on Earth. I had the good fortune of assisting with a cooking class at Esalen in Big Sur, CA, for five days. I had fully intended to write from my perch, but there was no internet service so, alas, I was ‘forced’ to kick back and become a sponge.
The course, “Improvisational Cooking for Health and Vitality,” emphasized using vegetables harvested fresh daily from 4 acres of organic gardens overlooking the ocean.
If I were kale there, I would grow, too! It was a culmination of organic and sustainable produce, ancient grains and heirloom beans, nutrient dense, bursting with vibrant flavors. It is the true definition of local and seasonal, and all that I embrace and promote in my teachings and in my kitchen.
As you know, dark, leafy greens are a staple in my diet and I hope in yours, too. They are high in fiber and anti-oxidants, loaded with minerals like iron and calcium (one cup can contain up to 400mg and is more bio-available than dairy), and are effective in the prevention of many diseases such as cancer.
Most ‘green leafies’ take on whatever seasoning you play with and can be so versatile – appearing in everything from soup to eggs, or simply on their own.
We sauteed bunches of kale, Swiss chard, bok choy and spinach. We created many ethnic combinations. One of my favorites was the most simple. It’s an Asian dressing using ginger and orange, perfect for an autumn lunch or side dish at dinner.
Sauteed Greens with Orange-Ginger Sauce – Makes about 2/3 cup
The instructor for this culinary workshop was Leslie Cerier. Leslie is an accomplished cookbook author, including “Going Wild in the Kitchen” where this recipe originates. Any greens can be used, and the dish can be served cold or hot. The potency of the ginger is pronounced, so do refrigerate what you don’t use.
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 TB fresh grated ginger
2 TB umeboshi vinegar*
1 TB toasted sesame oil
Place all ingredients in medium bowl and mix until well integrated. Adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve with sauteed greens, veggies, or over salad.
*Umeboshi vinegar is pink brine with a deep cherry aroma and a fruity, sour and salty flavor. It is a by-product produced when umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums) is made. It is said to aid with digestion and combat fatigue.
If you don’t have umeboshi, you can substitute rice vinegar with a pinch of salt.