In honor of my trip to San Diego tomorrow—and the fact that nobody has been to the Farmers’ Market and it’s sleeting—here’s what we’re eating tonight!
First, some notes: younger, smaller greens are always better! Kale (all varieties), Swiss chard, beet and turnip greens are all interchangeable for our purposes. Arugula and escarole will also work very well with even less “cooking” time. And we’re approaching one of the best parts of spring—dandelion greens! (If you don’t have any in your yard, you can buy them at markets or get some seeds and grow your own. Really!!!)
We didn’t eat cooked leafy things when I was growing up so I’m experimenting like a kid in a candy store. So far, I love them all, as long as they’re rare!
First, wash…wash…wash…wash…wash!!! A salad spinner is great. Two or three times through. Or put them in a clean sink of cold water, slosh around a bit and let rest so any sand falls to the bottom. With the sink method, you’ll have to drain them on a clean kitchen towel. (A little water left on the greens just helps them wilt.) If you have more than you need for one meal, place the rest in a zippie bag with one sheet of paper towel. Press air out gently, seal, and store in the fridge.
Pull stems from weightier greens like collards, etc. by holding stem in non-dominant hand and grasping where leaf begins. Pull. Stems of kale and chard can be used in stir fry as follows. Try to use all the parts of the plant! Chiffonade leaves by stacking on top of each other, rolling like a cigar, and crosscutting in about ¼” strips like confetti. If using stems, chop like finely chopped celery.
Options for preparing:
You can eat all of them raw, added to salads as above.
Add leaves at the last minute to other steamed or sautéed veg. You’re just wilting them a bit…we’re talking seconds, here.
Stir fry: begin with stems of greens, if using. Sauté in olive oil on medium high heat. Season with s&p and dried red pepper flakes if desired. Add leaves when everything else is tender. Top with spritz of lemon juice or balsamic/sherry vinegar.
Advanced stir fry: Thinly slice and slowly sauté onions in olive oil. They should be lightly caramelized. Add fresh, chopped garlic if desired. (And, tonight, organic red bell pepper.) Fresh, organic mushrooms, too, if that works for you. Wipe the caps with a just damp paper towel. Don’t run them under water!!! Slice. Trim ends of stems with a sharp knife, or pop off the stems and save for soup stock. S&P, dried red pepper flakes to taste. Add leaves at end and toss just until wilted. Add chopped Italian parsley if handy. Parsley has huge amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! Serve as above, with lemon or vinegar. (Vitamin C helps absorb nutrients in greens!)
Or, a fav of mine… Serve wilted greens as above over a bed of cold mixed greens so you get some crunch. Garnish as desired. (Walnuts are great!)
Put chiffonade of raw greens in the bottom of a bowl of soup. Yum!!!
Toss raw greens with warm rice or potatoes. Or serve under broiled or baked chicken or fish.
I love weeds!!! The touch of acid at the end is the key.
And a bit of bacon (or chopped salami) always helps!!!