All I can say is it’s a good thing that greens are good for you. I’m not quite sure when my obsession started, somewhere between switching from iceberg lettuce to spinach salads and discovering the beautiful dark green beauty known as kale, but these days with it being the peak of the leafy greens season I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!
My amazing Granny planted seven kinds of greens for me this fall and now her garden is a literal field of greens, which I happily dive headfirst into, snarfing up every delectable leaf. Every week I have visited her “Greens Supermarket” at least once or twice filling up my (now claimed personal) bushel baskets with green goodness. I almost feel like a mad woman snatching up collard greens, kale, curly mustard greens, turnip greens (with the darling little turnips on the end), tender greens, romaine and leafy lettuce. Every leaf I see looks better than the next and before I know it the entire back of my Calliber is overflowing with green.
|Please excuse the pic, it was taken with my phone at night
I’ve had a great many people give me all sorts of odd looks when I confess my obsession. Not many are fans. But like I’ve said before, I’m convinced if you don’t like vegetables, and specifically greens, you just haven’t had them prepared correctly. Contrary to the southern age old technique of boiling greens into a mushy pulp I take the opposite approach. I want greens cooked (and sometimes NOT cooked at all) until just tender and their dark green color brightly beaming.
In an effort to inspire some fellow greens lovers I’ve listed below some general tips for cleaning, prepping and storing greens, some of my favorite ways to enjoy them, and a recipe I loved so much at dinner last night that I actually cooked again for breakfast this morning because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Clean, Prep & Store
Many times I’m faced with baskets and bags full of greens often speckled with dirt and cluttered with dead weeds in the mix. At this state its completely understandable how someone could find them totally unappealing, but never fear my friends it’s easy to turn these filthy leafs into perfectly crisp clean morsels.
Step 1:Depending on the green I start by removing any big stems. This is especially important with collards, turnip greens and kale. The best method I’ve found is to fold the leaf in half lengthwise, grab the stem at the top and pull down. You should be left with just the leafy part.
Step 2: Tear or cut the leaves into bite sized pieces.
Step 3: Run a cold bath for your green lovies deep enough so they are floating on top. Swish them around to let the dirt and debris fall to the bottom of the sink.
Step 4: Lay your greens out on towels or paper towels to dry.
Step 5: Lined air tight storage containers with a layer of paper towels, place your dry (or mostly dry) greens on top, and seal.
This is how I’ve been storing my greens and they have kept up to three weeks still fresh and crisp!
I NEVER boil my greens. The more water you use to cook vegetables the more nutrients that are lost in the water, not to mention flavor in my opinion. Each type of green has a different flavor. I think they all taste fine just steamed lightly and sautéed with a touch of oil, garlic and salt, however some may need a little more attention for more “picky” palates 🙂
Saute: As I said above this method works great for most greens. I typically put just a half inch to an inch of water in my pan, turn it on high and pile in the greens (usually I have to keep adding as they wilt and allow room for more). Once they have started to wilt and the water has evaporated I drizzle a touch of oil, some minced garlic and salt and pepper and saute until they are tender. At this point in the game the flavor is really up to you. I have added soy and worcestershire sauce. Grated ginger is a great addition. A touch of cream that sticks to the leaves and some shredded parmesan can turn them into a creamy delicacy. Turnip greens have a bitter flavor which is easily cut with a drizzle of apple cider vinegar (actually ACV is good on most cooked greens). And most recently I sautéed them with sesame oil and added in spicy yellow mustard. This was the combo of my dreams and became my breakfast this morning.
Raw: A few greens are actually fantastic in their raw state. My favorite is kale (my fav green), but there is always the go-to romaine and leafy lettuce. Some unexpected salad greens are arugula and my friend Liz’s new favorite, curly mustard greens. Kale, arugula and mustard greens all have a slightly peppery flavor. For some it’s a little too intense, but for other salad lovers it’s a refreshing break from bland lettuce. Because kale has a meatier leaf, some people can be turned off by the fact that it’s a little harder to chew. An easy answer to this is giving it a little massage. Yes you read that correctly 🙂 Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over them and sprinkle with salt, then massage your kale. It will slowly start to wilt, almost looking like it’s been cooked. At this point you can eat it as is, top with your favorite salad toppings, or dress it with salad dressing. Last weekend I massaged a bowl of kale with a ripe avocado, lemon and salt…and fell in love.
Roast: I can’t honestly say I’ve tried this method with any green other than kale. But if you are looking for a healthy alternative to chips this is your answer. Place your prepped kale into a bowl and drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then massage the leaves until they are lightly covered with oil. Spread them onto a baking pan and roast at 375-400 (depending on your oven) degrees for about 20 minutes, tossing once or twice while cooking, until they are crispy. You will be left with a pan full of mouthwatering kale chips! This is easily adaptable. Feel free to experiment with your favorite spices or toppings (chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, parmesan cheese), or get fancy by whipping up a dressing of sour cream and chive or cheese sauce.