With fall officially in place, Virginia is producing some of it’s tastiest treats yet. We’ve gathered some of our all time favorites for a hearty, warm and healthy stew made from some of Virginia’s finest. We’re combining local greens (kale & collards) from Victory Farms with Chesapeake Bay clams and mussels for a bowl so tasty you’ll hope fall never ends.
1/2 pound local kale, collards or other greens, stemmed and washed in two or three changes of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin organic olive oil
4 pounds medium-sized clams or mussels (or use a mixture of the two), purged
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
A few sprigs each parsley and thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Cook for one to three minutes (depending on the type of green) until just tender. Transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain, squeeze dry and chop. Set aside.
2. Cook the clams or mussels in batches. In a large, lidded pan over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of the shallots, one garlic clove, the wine, parsley and thyme sprigs and half the clams or mussels. Bring to a boil, cover and cook about four minutes until they just open. Remove from the pan using tongs, and place in a bowl. Repeat with the remaining clams or mussels. When the seafood is cool enough to handle, remove from the shells, holding the shells over the bowl to catch their juice. Rinse briefly in case there is any lingering sand. Cut the clams in half if they’re large. Strain the liquid in the pan through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a small bowl, and set aside.
3. Return the pan to medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining shallots and garlic and salt to taste. Cook gently for three to four minutes until the shallots are tender. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped blanched greens. Cook, stirring over medium heat, for five minutes. Slowly pour the strained seafood juice into the pan, then add the beans and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Simmer five to 10 minutes. The greens should be very tender. Stir in the seafood, add several twists of the pepper mill, taste and adjust salt. Heat through and serve.
Yield: Serves four to six.
Advance preparation: You could make this through step 2 several hours ahead of serving and refrigerate the cooked seafood. Shortly before serving proceed with step 3.
Recipe from Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.