FARMER KRISS' SUNSHINE SKILLET SAUTE
This veggie dish is more of a template than a recipe – it’s got lots of moving parts so you can plug and play YOUR way! That’s how it works here on the farm, we cook based on ingredients we have at hand, rather than choose a recipe and then go find or buy ingredients. The Sunshine Skillet is a breakfast, lunch or dinner dish we use daily – it is our go-to meal and the template idea makes it easy for us to cook a terrific nutritious meal, even on a crazy busy day for a big farm crew. We recommend this sort of dish to help our CSA members use up all of their beautiful veggies in a low-stress fashion. Think of it as peasant food, not fancy, but delicious, practical and often very beautiful. Like a composed salad in a skillet!
Supplies to have at hand:
- Well-seasoned cast iron skillet, scaled to your cooking needs. We use big ones here.
- Flexible METAL spatula, plastic spatulas will melt in contact with the hot skillet.
- A lid for the skillet. I like a glass one, so I can see through it and not have to lift a hot cast iron lid multiple times during the meal prep. You will want to inspect your progress.
Ingredients to consider:
- Onions, sweet or spicy are both good, depending on your taste.
- Canned tomato juice. We use last season’s tomatoes canned into juice, but purchased tomato juice, without salt or flavors, works just fine.
- Several carrots, and/or a big red pepper, and/or a yellow summer squash and/or a sweet potato. These add flavor, nutrition, and most importantly, COLOR to your dish. I use what I have in the field or fridge.
- Several bunches of large-leaved cooking greens: kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli raab, arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens. You get the idea – big leaves of whatever you’ve got growing. Even cauliflower and broccoli leaves are tasty if you take the smaller ones from the middle of the plant and not the big old outer leaves.
- Salt, pepper and dried spices. I use fenugreek and thyme in most dishes, in addition to liberal sprinkles of ground pepper and salt. But often curry is what I crave, or a nutmeg/allspice blend. Go with your gut here.
- Fresh leafy herbs. Whatever you have or love: parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, oregano, lovage. Taste and see what works. I add a big handful of chopped leafy herbs to the top of everything I eat, except fruit!
- Cooked grains, about ¼ cup per person you will serve. I really love farro and other chewy grains like bulgur, barley and quinoa, but we do brown rice sometimes, too.
- Crumbly cheese, or grated cheese, about 1 tbsp per person. We make goat chevre from our does every other day, so that’s what we tend to use. When I don't have does in milk, I use Wisconsin’s Landmark Creamery’s amazing Petit Nuage, a fresh, French-style sheep milk cheese that is creamy, tangy and has a sweet finish. The cheese buyer at Whole Foods, Julia, recently told me it was her favorite cheese of the moment, and it just won a gold medal in the U.S. Cheese Championships. Also, I know the Annas who own the creamery, and they rock! But this is also a great way to use up any little piece of whatever you’ve got in the fridge to grate.
- Eggs, beans, meat or tofu, should you want more protein or a different one than cheese.
- Nuts and seeds, whatever you’ve got. I use a lot of flax and hemp seeds. Toasted oatmeal also works great.
Heat your seasoned skillet – there should be a skim of shiny oil in it, but not a puddle, to medium high and toss in a chopped onion or two. Cover and leave be for several minutes. This is hard to do, but you want a little bit of browned or even burned onion to be the base of your broth. Without turning the onions, add a few finely diced carrots, and/or peppers, squash, sweet potato. Turn heat down slightly, cover and cook for several minutes. Lots of moisture should be released from the veggies and they’ll steam in their own juices. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and fenugreek. Pour about ¼ cup of tomato juice over the veggies. It will bubbly, de-glaze the pan, and immediately create a lovely caramelized sauce. Chop greens roughly – perhaps in 2-inch pieces – and throw on top. Fill the pan as high as you can, salt and pepper again, and cover. When greens have softened and turned a bright green, remove the lid and use the spatula to scrape all of the caramelized onion off the bottom of the skillet and incorporate everything together. Salt, pepper, spice to taste. If you are using eggs, simply break them on top, cover and poach to your desire. You can also steam cooked meat, tofu or beans in this way, if you want them warm.
To compose the plate, fill the bowl of the plate with the skillet veggies. Then, mound about ¼ cup of grains on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Place a handful of chopped fresh green herbs in the middle of the grains. Sprinkle the entire dish with crumbled cheese, focusing mainly in the middle, and garnish with nuts, seeds or toasted oats. A few edible flowers is a nice touch, and if you use nasturtiums, you get a lovely peppery bite as well. Pass with some siracha or malt vinegar and enjoy!