Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Go Greens!

Cooking greens, like kale or broccoli greens (I just recently discovered these are edible!) are something I pretty much never even heard of until I was about 25. And I didn't figure out how to make them so they really taste good until several years later.  Lots of people have never tried them, and many others have not had them done well.

As I said before, I am not a vegetarian.... Recently our friends Nate and Laura gave us the Gift of Meat - 1/4 of a cow!! So we were pretty excited to cook up some steaks this weekend. But you know how when you order steak at a restaurant, it comes with a mountain of mashed potatoes and this pathetic little pile of steamed or fried zucchini, green beans and carrots? That's just sad. What you really need to go along with a big juicy steak is the big strong flavor of a garlicky heap of greens!


Yes, you can chop them up and put them in soup to get your vitamins, but the best flavors of most greens really shine when you saute them in olive oil with plenty of garlic and salt. I did mention beet greens and chard in an earlier post, but the recipe is a bit different because they have a bit of natural saltiness, and a unique flavor.

For kale, start by ripping out the center rib from each leaf because it is pretty tough. For broccoli greens, you don't really have to do this. Then lay all the leaves down on the cutting board and slice through the whole pile to create thin ribbons. Heat up the olive oil on medium high in the largest skillet you have, and throw the whole pile in. If you have a lid for the skillet, put it on so that the greens wilt faster. When they have cooked down a little bit, you can stir them and put in some minced garlic, and salt to taste (use at least 1/4t salt for a panful of kale). Keep frying and stirring until the leaves begin to brown a tiny bit - be careful not to burn them, but this browning will give them a wonderful nutty flavor.

Another fabulous way to eat kale is grilled - rub each leaf with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then throw them on the grill individually for about 10 seconds - just until they start to turn slightly brown and crispy. It is easy to burn them, so be careful! I got this technique from a gorgeous cookbook called Homegrown, by Michael Nischan with Mary Goodbody. It was actually described as an accompaniment to grilled chicken, and interestingly, the recipe has also been posted on Oprah.com.

And finally - until just recently, I was a bit scared of collard greens. All that talk about boiling them for hours, with bacon, and the funky smell while they're cooking... Well, I finally just tried frying them, with minced red onion, paprika and a little bit of oregano, and they're great! They can be tough, so be sure to take out the center rib, and add a little water to the pan so you can cook them longer if needed. I could eat the whole panful by myself!!
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