Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hamburger with Italian Greens

My brother and I socialize quite a bit together with our respective spouses, along with other friends. We're friends as well as family. Isn't that awesome?

I think so.

This is the adult life I've always wanted. We see each other several times a week, and have many of the same friends. Day-to-day life entwined with family.

I like that we're friends. And what better friend to have than a sibling? Unconditional love and acceptance at it's finest. And the trust--well I've never had friends that I could trust as much as my brother and his wife, and Mr.W of course.

Every once in a while--maybe once a month or so--my brother and I like to have a quiet lunch just the two of us. Brother-sister bonding, without the spouses. Last week we did just that.

A popular local restaurant serves some really great sandwiches, and we each chose a similar meal. I selected a chicken-and-greens sandwich with a salad on the side, and he picked a burger with greens with french fries.

Around here, greens are a side dish made usually from escarole, though often mixed with other greens, that have been cooked down with onions and garlic and other yummy bits and served under a layer of browned parmesan breadcrumbs.

But I digress. I'd like to share a photo of my chicken-and-greens sandwich from last week:

You can see the breaded chicken cutlets layered with cheesy greens. And what gorgeous bread! Looks good, doesn't it?

Well the idea was good. It was actually pretty dry with all those breadcrumbs, and in my opinion didn't have enough greens to moisten the sandwich. I liked to choke to death eating that thing, truth be told. I drank two whole glasses of Diet Coke just to get half the sandwich down.

But my brother said his burger was quite nice.

I decided to give the greens burger a whirl at home yesterday after my trip to the farmer's market. I already had half a head of escarole in the fridge, and along with a stalk of bok choy and the greens from a big bulb of kohlrabi, I made greens here at home, and topped a nice hamburger with a layer before adding a thick slice of provolone cheese.


I won't bother giving you a recipe for the hamburger--it's just pattied 85% lean ground beef mixed with a little salt and pepper before forming; the burger was fried off to well done and the bun was gently toasted for a pleasing crunch.

This makes a fantastic burger for those who prefer to go bunless, too! I served it with sweet potato fries (obviously cut round).

Italian Greens
makes 4 side dish servings

- olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or vidalia onion, chopped (I used frozen vidalia onion, because I ran out of onions--blasphemy, I know!)
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 or more cloves garlic, chopped (I forgot to add the garlic so I used granulated garlic toward the end of the cooking process; this is why mise in place is a good thing)
- 1 tablespoon (or to taste) prepared chopped cherry peppers (marinating in vinegar) OR dried red pepper flake plus a few dashes red wine vinegar
- 1/4 pound sliced, cut up cappicola or prosciutto (you could also use pancetta or bacon here; if you do, you should cook that FIRST, before the onions)
- a good 8 cups or more of freshly washed and torn greens (at least half should be escarole; thicker stalks and stems should be chopped and set aside)
- a handful grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, saute onions, bell peppers and reserved chopped stalks in olive oil until onions are transparent. Add chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add cherry peppers and cappicola and stir. Note: the amount of peppers I suggest make a spicy mess of greens.

Now I like a little water clinging to my greens. Some people will say to dry them well before cooking--not me. We need a little liquid in this baby (making some super-yummy pot-likker). So start adding handfuls of greens to the pot. Go ahead and pile them up--as they wilt down they will make room in the pan.

Gently turn the contents of the pot with two spoons to allow the greens to get coated with the olive oil and delicious sauteed bits. Put a lid on your pot (or some foil) and let them steam down for about 10 minutes.

Remove cover and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, turning to coat. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. (I find that with the ham and Parmesan cheese, I don't need to add extra salt. But that's me.) Remove from heat. Serve as desired. May be made a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

By the way, do you see that groovy yellow and green fabric under my plate? Its from a set of 6 cloth napkins I bought at the garage sale last week. I love them! What a fun print--expect to see those around here periodically!


Harmony said...

I love your greens burger. Sounds great. What restaurant did you get the sandwich at? i have never seen a sandwich such as this on a menu. For really tasty greens we love to go to Georgio's. I will try the chicken and greens combo at home. thank you for another tasty, healthy recipe.

Mary said...

I love the idea of greens on a burger. It's a great way to incorporate some extra veggies. Thanks!

Amanda said...

Thanks, Harmony! I'd rather not say what restaurant--I don't want them to be offended should they read this. Greens on a sandwich are pretty normal fare around here, especially steak n' greens, which is also delicious.

Hi, Mary. Even Mr.W ate this one, so I think the extra work making the greens is totally worth it to get those vegetables in. Plus it's tasty, and that's what really matters! :)

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