Originally published in the Taste Our Love for the Land cookbook, published 2015.

In 2010, I purchased Luna Farm, a forty-acre farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. My very talented team worked on what was previously an unyielding plot of land, transforming it into a working farm that now supplies fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs to our Garces Group restaurants along the East Coast. At Luna Farm we’ve chosen to adhere to organic practices. This has proven difficult at times, but I’ve always found that food that is produced mindfully tends to be superior in quality, and I wanted to create a quality product that we could feel proud about serving at our restaurants.

“Educational field trips have been a great way for to share the lessons I’ve learned on the farm.”

Chef Jose Garces at Luna Farm: From an unyielding plot of land to a working farm adhering to organic practices. Photos: courtesy of Jose Garces/Taste Our Love for the Land,” 2015

In 2012 we launched the Garces Foundation, which is committed to ensuring that Philadelphia’s underserved immigrant community has access to medical, educational and nutritional services. I’m really proud of our programs, including our educational field trips to Luna Farm. The program connects young people to their food by demonstrating the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, and by teaching them how to prepare fresh, nutritious meals and snacks. The kids participate in hands-on-learning with activities that range from planting and harvesting to nature walks around the farm to cooking lunch using the fruits of their labor. It has been a great way for me to share the lessons I’ve learned on the farm.

Kale Bomba Rice

Serves 4  | By Jose Garces

Kale Bomba Rice

Serves 4   |  By Jose Garces

2 bunches oyster mushrooms, cut into petals (or substitute 16 shiitake mushrooms, sliced)
1 shallot, brunoised
1 bunch Tuscan black kale, tough stems removed, chiffonade or cut into thin strips
¾ cup Vegetable Stock (recipe follows)
Bomba Rice (recipe follows)
1½ cups Kale Purée (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Butternut Squash (recipe follows)
4 fresh quail eggs, optional
4 ounces Mahon cheese, shaved into thin strips using a vegetable peeler
Extra-virgin olive oil, for sautéing

Heat a medium-size pan over medium heat with extra-virgin olive oil, and sauté mushrooms and shallot for 1 to 2 minutes. Add kale and cook until just wilted. Add Vegetable Stock. Gently fold cooked Bomba Rice into mixture and warm through. Add Kale Puree and allow to heat. Fold in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Plate rice and garnish with sautéed Butternut Squash. Separate quail egg yolks from whites and place raw yolk in the center of the steaming hot rice. Garnish with Mahon cheese. Serve immediately.

Bomba Rice
½ Spanish onion, small diced
2 to 3 cloves Roasted Garlic (recipe follows), smashed
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 cup bomba or calasparra short grain rice
1¼ cups Vegetable Stock (recipe follows)

Combine Spanish onion in a small pan with smashed Roasted Garlic and butter. Cook over very low heat until onion is translucent. Add rice, stir gently to incorporate, then add Vegetable Stock. Bring to a simmer, stir once, cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Spread cooked rice on a sheet pan and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of light brown sugar

Scoop squash with a 15 to 20mm melon baller. Sauté over medium heat in butter until lightly caramelized, then add thyme, a pinch of salt and a pinch of brown sugar. Cool and reserve. Squash should be prepared the same day, but can be done 1 to 2 hours in advance of the rest of the dish.

Kale Puree
2 bunches Tuscan black kale, tough stems removed from the bottom
Onion Confit, oil drained off (recipe follows)
10 cloves Roasted Garlic (recipe follows)
1 cup Vegetable Stock (recipe follows)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare an ice bath. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add a pinch of kosher salt. Blanch kale for 30 seconds in rapidly boiling water, transfer immediately to ice bath to cool. Once cool, roughly chop the kale and place in blender, with Onion Confit and Roasted Garlic. Heat vegetable stock, and once hot, combine with other ingredients in blender. Cover tightly. Purée on high speed until completely smooth. Emulsify extra-virgin olive oil into purée. Cool and reserve. Kale Puree can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, kept refrigerated in an airtight container. Be sure to shake or stir before using.

Onion Confit
1 Spanish onion
Extra-virgin olive oil, to cover
½ bunch fresh thyme
½ bunch fresh rosemary

Cut both ends off the onion and cut a slit in the skin to completely remove outer layer. Place in a small saucepot and completely submerge in extra-virgin olive oil. Add thyme and rosemary. Cook over very low heat for 1½ hours or until completely tender. Cool and reserve stored in the oil. Can be prepared up to 1 week in advance and stored, covered in oil, in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Garlic
2 heads fresh garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, to cover

Preheat oven to 300°F. Cut just the top off the garlic—be sure keep the heads otherwise intact. Cover in olive oil in a small pan and cover pan in foil. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until garlic is completely tender and can be squeezed from the peel. Remove all garlic from peel, cool and reserve. Garlic can be roasted up to 3 days in advance. Be sure to peel/squeeze the garlic before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Vegetable Stock
1½ Spanish onions, large diced
1 carrot, large diced
2 ribs celery, large diced
1 Granny Smith apple, quartered
3 fresh bay leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
8-10 whole white peppercorns, optional

Combine onion, carrot, celery and apple in a medium saucepot, then add bay leaves, thyme and white peppercorns. Cover with 3 quarts cold water, and bring to a heavy simmer (but not a boil) over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through fine sieve and reserve. Stock can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.