Hon Tsai Tai (pronounced HON-sie-tie) is a mild Asian green from the Mustard family. Yet, I would describe it more along the lines of a sweet, less bitter, broccoli raab. The absolute fabulous thing about this gorgeous green is, you use the whole plant: Flowers, buds, leaves, stems.
In all honesty, I had never even heard of it before. But when I opened my email one morning, I was greeted by Mark, from Ollin Farms, asking if I would be willing to do a little research and share a recipe or two with all our good friends at the farmer's market.
This is precisely the kind of challenge I love.
In fact, I think if you dangle a few "Hon Tsai Tia's" in front of most chefs/cooks/food nerds you can gently led us to do just about anything! If you only knew how excited I get when my phone rings at 7:15a, and it's a local farmer saying, "Chef, you need to come out and see......." My heart starts racing like a big haired Texas girl near a jewelry store!
Most of the recipes I found were for Asian dishes. Asian greens equals asian recipes, right? Not in my book. As many of you know, I rarely do what's expected. Besides, this past saturday was COLD and I needed something that would make people stop and savor this unique little vegetable. Besides, when everyone's mouths are full, it's the perfect opportunity for me to talk about our amazing farmer's market.
As with many of my recipes this is a suggestion. I want all of you who have to measure everything perfectly, to put down your measuring spoons and slide rules and just have fun with this.
Note: We currently do not sell Polenta (that's big yellow grits to all my southern readers/family), but we do have a farmer who is experimenting with it this season, and we may see some of it this fall.
Sauteed Hon Tsai Tai w/ Creamy Polenta
First, cook Polenta according to the package directions. I use Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits and it takes about 30-40 minutes to cook. Of course, before we serve it, I add butter and Parmesan to the pot, then I taste it, and add more butter and Parmesan.
**If you are local, feel free to substitute Haystack Goat Cheese (any of their selections would be amazing) in place of the Parmesan.
**To all my Texas family and friends... you can add jalapenos, and cheddar cheese to your grits and you will most likely have to add a pound or two of cooked chopped bacon to the greens to get your guy to eat it. Just tell him it's parsley....
Sauteed Hon Tsai Tai
1/2 yellow onion, diced or 1/2 cup ramps, Chopped
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Bunch Hon Tsai Tai, roughly chopped. Use the whole plant.
2 pinches hot pepper flakes
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat, add oil, wait 30 seconds and add onions, or ramps and cook/saute until they begin to color. Next, add the greens and red pepper flakes, lower the heat to medium and cover pan with lid and allow greens to cook for about 5-7 minutes ( or longer depending on the tenderness of the stalk). Taste, season with salt and pepper and serve over creamy polenta. I usually drizzle a little good quality, unfiltered olive oil over the dish and serve.
The great news this week is that Ollin Farms sold out of the Hon Tsai Tai before we finished our demo. If you missed out, please look for it next week at the Longmont Farmer's Market or stop by their farm stand during the week.
Have a fabulous day and as always,
I will see you at the Market!