What to Do With Greens

Hot Wilted Greens
Greens Salad with Warm Pecan Dressing
Quick Cooked Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Pasta with Dark Greens
Shredded Beets and Greens with Sliced Oranges
Tips on Greens

The old school of Southern greens cookery called for simmering them to death. The new school of thought is that colored kales, chards, beet greens and the like are too pretty to treat like that. Tender young greens, often sold in farmers markets in a “braising mix,” can be cooked in a matter of minutes. Simply sauté garlic slivers in olive oil until they soften; turn the heat way up and throw in the braising mix until it wilts; squirt on some red wine vinegar until it disappears; and serve as a dish or over pasta. Quicker yet, wilt the greens with a hot dressing.

mustard greens

Two varieties of mustard greens from the Warehouse District Farmers Market in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 15, 2011

Hot Wilted Greens [top]

1 thick slice smoky bacon
½ T olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet red onion
3 T chicken stock
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 quart mixed piquant leafy greens (such as arugula, endive or mustard greens)
¼ cup toasted pecans
1. In a large, deep skillet or wok over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble and reserve. Add olive oil to bacon drippings in skillet, heat and add garlic and onions.

2. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until onions and garlic are softened. Stir in chicken stock and vinegar.

3. Add greens and mix. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until leaves are coated. Cover and cook several minutes more, until leaves are wilted and cooked tender-crisp.

4. Top with bacon and chopped pecans. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Source: Countryside Farms

Mess o’ Greens Salad with Warm Pecan Dressing [top]

6 cups fresh mustard, turnip, and/or collard greens (about 1 pound)
6 cups fresh mustard, turnip, and/or collard greens (about 1 pound)
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp. vegetable oil
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped or broken

1. Wash greens well, dry thoroughly, then remove and discard the long stems. Tear the greens into salad-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and mustard. Set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a small skillet until hot but not smoking. Add the vinegar mixture and pecans and cook, stirring regularly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over the greens and serve at once.

Source: Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking

Quick Cooked Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins [top]

1 large bunch of greens, such as rapini, mustard or turnip tops
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Wash and chop the greens. Saute the chopped garlic in the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in the greens and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes or longer, as necessary, stirring occasionally until the greens have cooked down. Hardier greens, such as rappini and kale, will take longer to cook than greens that are more tender, such as turnip tops.

2. When the greens have thoroughly wilted, in 5 to 10 minutes, stir in the raisins and toasted pine nuts and cook for several more minutes, until the raisins have softened. Then stir in the vinegar, and turn off the heat.

3. Serve as a side dish or mix the cooked greens into pasta of your choice.

Pasta with Dark Greens [top]

2 pounds broccoli raab (rapini), turnip, mustard or dandelion greens
Kosher salt
1 pound orechiette, penne or other pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 anchovy filets in oil, drained and finely chopped
Pinch dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper and salt

1 In a large pot, bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil. While the water heats, trim the greens and wash them well. Cut the greens crosswise into 1-inch pieces or strips.

2. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Toss the greens into the boiling water; cook until they are almost tender but still bright green, 8 to 10 minutes. (The time will vary somewhat depending on what kind of greens you use. Testing them is the best way to know when they are done.) With a slotted spoon, remove greens from the pot and toss into a large bowl of cold water.

3. Add the pasta to the pot of water in which the greens were cooked. While the pasta cooks, squeeze the greens to remove as much water as possible. Fluff the greens to separate them, then set aside.

4. In a large, heavy skillet or a wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, just until the garlic begins to color. (Take care not to let it burn or the dish will taste bitter.) Add the anchovies, pressing them so they “melt” into the oil. Add the pepper flakes. When the pasta is almost done, 10 to 12 minutes, add the drained greens to the pan and cook together for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove pan from the heat.

5. Drain the pasta, leaving a bit of water clinging to it. Add the pasta to the cooked greens; toss well. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Serve immediately with a loaf of the thick-crusted, whole-grain bread. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: If you prefer, the greens can be cooked ahead and held up to 8 hours. (Refrigerate them if it will be more than two hours, then bring them back to room temperature before using.) You won’t get to reuse the cooking water from the pasta, but you will be able to put the finished dish on the table in just minutes.

Source: The Top One Hundred Italian Dishes, by Diane Seed

Shredded Beets and Greens with Sliced Oranges [top]

1 pound beet greens (2 to 3 bunches)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into thin half-moons
1 cup coarsely grated beets
1 orange, peel and pith removed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange)
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tbs olive oil
pinch of salt

1. Cut off the beets, then separate the leaves from the stems at the base of the leaf. Discard the stems. Wash the leaves well and cut into strips about 1/2 inch side. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, until soft and translucent.

3. Meanwhile, peel and coarsely grate the beets with a hand grater or in a food processor. Add the beets to the onions and saute for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the greens and stir well. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until greens are tender.

5. Cut between membranes of the orange to section. Set aside. Mix together the orange juice, mustard, olive oil, and salt. Drizzle over cooked beets and beet greens just before serving. Top with orange sections. Serve hot.

Tips on Greens [top]

Use strong-tasting accompaniments: Even the authors of a book entitled Greens Glorious Greens! have to admit: greens, by themselves, just don’t cut it. “Most greens need a little help, a little company, to taste good,” write the authors, Johanna Albi and Catherine Walthers. In fact, greens need quite a lot of help. Dressings and accompaniments should be strong-tasting, such as vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, leeks, raisins, or olives; or crunchy, such as nuts or sesame seeds; or at least colorful, such as beets, radicchio or carrots.

Eat the young ones raw: All greens including the spiciest and bitterest –such as red mustard and dandelions — are edible raw when they’re babies. Even in mature form, the mildest greens — such as spinach and chard — can still make do with minimal if any cooking. In contrast, the strongest greens at maturity may need to be cooked twice counting a blanching.

Don’t steam them: Steaming and greens don’t mix, for reasons explained by Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking. An acid in the greens is activated by heat. Unless it is washed away, it destroys the chlorophyll, turning the greens a dingy gray.

A better way of blanching: Blanching is an age-old way to pretreat tough, spicy greens, which happens to minimize the problem with acid buildup in steamed greens. The trouble with blanching is that the procedure leaches out nutrients and besides, bringing a big pot of water to boil takes time. Hence Albi and Walthers recommend a compromise that they call “shallow blanching” — pre-cooking in just 2 cups of water per pound of greens for three to 10 minutes.

A surprising ‘green cocktail’: The concentrated broth left over after shallow blanching is concentrated enough to drink. “In cooking classes when we serve this ‘green cocktail,’ students are surprised at how good it tastes,” Albi and Walthers write.

Eat greens, live longer: Greens are chock full of beta-carotene, with the darkest greens having the most. For supplying these presumed cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamin supplements are no match for vegetables, according to the latest data. Scientists now know that other phytochemicals work in concert with beta-carotene. And some of these compounds haven’t even been identified yet. Many greens have a nutritional bonus: high levels of calcium.

To Pep Up Greens, Add Citrus Fruit: Here’s a nutrition tip from Greens Glorious Greens! (St. Martin’s Press, 1996): add a source of vitamin C to iron-rich foods to increase the amount of iron the body can absorb. The following recipe puts the principle to work.