Tuesday, April 07, 2009

White House Spinach and Green Mashed Potatoes

I've been working on increasing the quantity and diversity of my leaf intake. Michael Pollan in In Defense of Food recommends that we "eat mostly plants, especially leaves." So I've been looking out for weird leaves in my produce aisle. Last week Henry's had organic dandelion greens. But what to do with them?

Back on March 11th the New York Times ran a bit about Michelle Obama giving a tour of the White House kitchens and discussing the challenges of getting her daughters to eat well. In passing the article mentioned a spinach dish that Cristeta Comerford, the White House Executive Chef, cooks for the Obamas. In the same issue Mark Bittman wrote an article, The Greening of Mashed Potatoes, including a recipe for green mashed potatoes. The green ingredient: dandelion. I was so enamored with the no-cream creamed spinach idea that I jotted down as much as I could glean from the article about the recipe in the top margin of my clipping of The Greening of Mashed Potatoes. About a week later the Dining blog (and the hard copy of the newspaper, but can I find that online, no) had the recipe for No-Cream Creamed Spinach.

Saturday I made both.
Now, to be fair, I failed to review the entire Bittman article in order to recognize the importance of equal parts potato to greens. So, in the interest of efficiency, I used five pounds of potatoes instead of one. But I did use homemade bread crumbs, so I should still score some Bittman points. I also added about a quarter cup of shredded Asiago cheese on top, just because it was there. To top off my deviance, instead of baking at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, I popped it in with the turkey meatloaf, which was baking at 350 degrees, about 20 minutes before the meatloaf was done. Then I switched on the broiler for about fifty seconds to brown the top.

My independent taste tester was thoroughly wowed. He'd never scarfed up spinach so fast. And the potatoes were awesome. They might be awesomer if the ratio of greens to potatoes was closer to one to one.

But I've got to confess, dandelion greens involve a lot of de-stemming for not so much green leafy, so I think I might substitute some other weird green in the future.

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