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Winter Greens

Penn State via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In this season of New Year's resolutions, it might be wise to follow your mother's advice and "remember to eat your greens.” Now of course, finding fresh green vegetables in January isn't quite as easy as July, but if you are willing to keep an open mind about it, Maryland actually manages to produce an abundance of winter greens for us to enjoy. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino has prepared three delicious recipes that feature winter greens.


Italian Tomato & Winter Greens Soup




3 cups whole canned tomatoes, crushed by hand

2 cups tomato juice

Chicken stock as needed

10 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 small yellow onion, chopped into ¼ inch dice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. Swiss chard, leaves roughly chopped

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 cup dry white wine

Salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a large sauté pan set over medium high, heat the oil until just smoking. Add the onions, Swiss chard stems and garlic and cook with constant stirring until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and white wine and reduce the liquid until only about two tablespoons are left. Add the tomatoes and tomato juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with occasional stirring. Using the chicken stock, adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking. Add the Swiss chard leaves, season with salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Serve with good extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.



White Bean, Kale And Tomato Soup




5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, cut into ¼ inch dice

2 garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups crushed tomatoes
3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 carrots, cut into small cubes
1 small leek, white and green parts, cut small
3 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
1 lb. kale, cleaned of thick stems and roughly chopped
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cups cooked white beans

2 medium red onions, sliced thinly


In a large oven proof pot set over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat until just smoking. Add the onion, garlic crushed red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of salt, and fry for about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, leeks and celery and cook for an additional 5 minutes with occasional stirring. Add 1 cup water and allow to come to a boil. Add the crushed tomatoes and return to a boil. Stir in the potatoes, beans, fresh thyme and kale. Arrange the sliced onions in a thin layer over the surface of the soup. Place on the middle rack of a 350°F oven and allow to cook until the onions turn brown on the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with flatbread, good olive oil and grated cheese.



Braised Winter Greens




2 lbs of mustard greens, kale or collards, cleaned of large stems

3 strips of thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, diced

2 tablespoons of lard or butter

2 large shallots, cut into ¼ inch dice

4 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup malt vinegar

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

1 cup water or chicken stock


In a large pot set over medium heat, cook the bacon in the butter until it starts to brown. Add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the paprika and cook an additional minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and raise the heat. Once the liquid come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the greens, cover, for 30 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure all the liquid hasn’t evaporated. Add more water as necessary. Remove the cover and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.