28 December 2013

Cooking with Greens

Our daughter Jennifer cooked dinner last night. Wow!  It was wonderful!  She made steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe.  OK, sounds pretty average right?  Well, I had always cooked broccoli rabe just by sautéing with garlic and olive oil.  With Jennifer's simple addition of onions, it was amazing...very flavorful and sweet! 

Greens are so easy to prepare, yet we have a fair number of customers at the farmers' markets that don't know what to do with them.  They can all pretty much be sautéed with garlic and oil....we're Italian, so we cook most things with those two ingredients ;-). First, you'll want to rinse the dirt off the greens and drain them or pat dry with a paper towel.  Remove the heavier stems.  Jennifer chopped the leaves of the broccoli rabe (or rapini, as some call it) before cooking, but you can leave them whole too.  Some greens like collards and kale can easily be stripped from the stems by running your thumb and forefinger down the entire length of the stem, thereby stripping the leaves off as you go.

I never knew how to prepare collard greens until I asked one of my customers.  She told me to cook up some bacon or smoked meat in a pan, remove the meat and set aside, then sauté the collards and garlic in the same drippings that the meat left behind.  Cook until tender, then add the meat, chopped, back into the pan with the greens.  Add a little hot pepper flake and your done.  It was delicious.  I have also added them to soups and stews as well as stir fry recipes when I didn't have bok choi on hand.  Brassicas, or things like kale, cabbage, broccoli, collards, etc...also known as cruciferous vegetables, get sweeter once they've gone through a frost in the late fall.  The collards can easily be cooked without the bacon or meat and be just as delicious. 

At the farmers' markets, you can find baby mixed greens for cooking, or individual varieties, more mature, bunched.  All are great additions to daily meals and high in vitamins and calcium.  I hope this little read has helped you in your cooking repertoire and given you some ideas for your daily meals.  Enjoy!