Mediterranean Greens with White Beans and Rice
Spring is around the corner and I can’t wait to start cooking with the first early crops grown by local farmers. Meanwhile, I am still relying on hardy, leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, spinach, mustard greens and collards for a lot of my family’s meals. Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses that provide Vitamins A and K, magnesium, iron, calcium, folic acid, potassium, fiber and lutein. They can help to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, strengthen our bones and immune systems, and protect our eyes. This recipe is one of my favorites year round. You can use a variety of greens, and the addition of cooked white beans and brown rice ups the fiber, iron and protein content. Any other cooked firm whole grain, such as barley, wheat berries, or kamut, can be substituted for the rice. Serve warm as a side dish or refrigerate overnight and serve at room temperature as a side salad.
Based on a recipe from Eating Well magazine
Yields: 10 Servings
1 14oz can Cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups of cooked brown rice or other firm whole grain
1 ½ pounds (about 12 cups) any combination of dark, leafy greens such as kale, beet, mustard, Swiss chard or spinach, washed and stems trimmed
1 onion halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp red or white vinegar
½ Tsp sugar
½ cup pitted, brined black olives (such as Kalamata) coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour the beans into a small strainer and rinse with cool water until the water runs clean. Set aside to drain well. Prepare rice or grains according to package directions so that you end up with 3 cups of cooked grains.
Clean the greens (see Note below) but allow water to cling to the leaves. Place in a large pot, cover and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally with tongs until the greens are just wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander, pressing out as much of the water as possible, then roughly chop greens and place in a large serving bowl with the beans and rice.
Combine the onions, red or white vinegar, and sugar in a small, non-reactive sauce pan, cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat as soon as the boiling point is reached; remove pot from the heat, and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add the onion mixture to the greens and rice along with all of the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Leafy greens need to be cleaned thoroughly to make sure all sand and grit are removed. The most effective way to wash greens is to soak them in a clean sink filled with cold water. Give the leaves a gentle swish as they float on the top and the dirt will fall to the bottom. Remove the greens to a colander or bowl, drain and rinse the sink, and then repeat until there is no dirt left in the bottom of the sink – usually 3 rinses. To remove the woody stems from greens, carefully run a paring knife along the stem from the root end upward, shaving the leaf off. The stems of Swiss chard are edible and can be trimmed, sliced or diced like celery, and sautéed until soft and then added to the chopped greens.
Nutritional Information per Serving (approx 1 cup): Calories = 332 (48 from fat); Total fat = 5.3g (1.7g Sat); Cholesterol = 7mg; Sodium = 234mg; Total Carb = 57.5g (13.2g Fiber, 2.2g Sugars); Protein = 15.5g; Vitamin A = 132% of RDA; Vitamin C = 42% of RDA; Calcium = 19% of RDA; Iron = 34% of RDA.