A while back I mentioned that I ate something called Hippy Chow, and then described it only in the briefest and smallest of fonts. Since I cooked it again for dinner tonight I thought I’d elaborate.
I started making Hippy Chow when I split a farm share with my mom back in Olympia and often found myself with more greens than I knew what to do with. I honestly can’t recall where I came across the idea, but its a simple enough one that it doesn’t matter: cook the greens down with rice. Before I knew it I was simmering down beet tops, kale, chard, mustard greens, leeks, onions, green onions, whatever you pulled out of the mower bag, I threw it into the pot with the rice. And it cooked up beautifully every time.
In later years I branched out to pearled barley (which I adore in a way that I think would upset the Pope) instead of rice, and added sweet potatoes and parsnips into regular rotation. The end result is always the same, a thick, nutrient dense casserole of dubious photogenic quality that warms my belly.
Ten years later, I’m still making Hippy Chow, though now largely when Mike is out of the house for the evening. His Viking constitution doesn’t run well on vegetation. Tonight he’s off on some kind of “dinner meeting” which I think might be a euphemism, and I’m at home with a simple Hippy Chow of kale and rice. The key, I think, is sauteing down the vegetables in some olive oil for a few minutes before introducing the rice; pearled barley cooks so long that it doesn’t get this treatment, its vegetables get added 15 minutes into the barley cook time.
Good stock instead of water also helps, as with most scenarios.
The end result is chewy, flavorful, surprisingly rich and perfectly good as a meal in of itself, which is part of the objective as far as I’m concerned. I’m not making Hippy Chow as a part of a complete dinner, I’m making Hippy Chow because I’m home alone and that means that I’m doing my own dishes, and, well, fuck that.
That is an awful photo and the food is ugly, too.
serves 1 stoner or maybe 2 non-stoners or 4 if you’re serving it as a side.
1/2 onion, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch greens (i.e., 1/2 bunch kale and 1/2 bunch chard, or 1 whole bunch mustard greens, etc.)
1 C. rice
2 1/4 C. stock or water
1 tsp. salt (more to taste)
2 tsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
fresh herbs to taste (basil, sage and rosemary are good)
- In a medium pot, saute the onion in the olive oil until lightly cooked, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and just stir to cook through (you really don’t want to brown it, just take the edge off it). Add the greens and saute until they have greatly reduced in volume and are fairly soft, but still vibrant and green, about 5 to 7 minutes. This goes a little smoother if you keep stirring it. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the rice to the greens, stir through to coat with oil, and then add the liquid and the vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 20 minutes over a very low flame.
- When the 20 minutes are up, quickly chop up some fresh herbs – honestly, any will do – about 2 Tbsp. worth, and stir into the cooked rice and greens mixture. Quickly replace the lid and remove from heat, allowing to sit undisturbed for the next 10 minutes. Now would be a good chance to hit the bong.
- That’s it, you’re all done. It might need a little more salt, but probably not.
The variation for making with pearled barley goes like this:
1 heaping cup of vegetables diced into 1/2 inch cubes (root veggies are perfect)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 C. pearled barley
3 cups of stock or water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey
fresh herbs to taste (rosemary in particular)
- In a medium pot, saute the onion in olive oil until softish, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir through just to warm. Add the pearled barley, salt, pepper and honey.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes are up, add the cup of veggies, quickly stir, bring back to a simmer, cover, and then allow to cook undisturbed for 30 more minutes.
- After the 30 minutes are up, quickly stir in the chopped fresh herbs, re-cover, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before eating. There might be a little liquid still in the bottom before you set the pot aside for 10 minutes, but the barley will continue to absorb as it sits. Pearl barley is also a little chewy, so don’t overcook it thinking that it’s not done. It probably is.