Thursday, June 21, 2012

Greens, Greens, Glorious Greens


Funny thing about greens--I never really liked them until my hubby taught me how to make them. Growing up, all I ever got was canned spinach (it was the culinarily unenlightened 70s). The first time I ever had spinach salad, I was an adult--and I thought it was the yummiest thing I had ever tasted! Finally, hubby is a greens devotee, and a gifted gardener, and he grows lots of them. (He makes a crispy collard greens that is to-die-for too--amazing.)
Anyway, I finally figured out that the way to really enjoy greens is to dress them like you would salad--with some sort of oil and some sort of vinegar or lemon juice, and salt, if needed. Also great with veggie or chicken stock. Voila! Greens that I cannot stop eating. So many kinds of vinegar that make greens fun--rice vinegar, umeboshi (pickled plum) vinegar, spicy vinegar with those little peppers in it (that's big in North Carolina, where I'm from--and I swear it is YUMMY!). Also good with garlic, bacon or ham (sorry, vegetarians!), hot sauce--you name it!
Eww--I love creamed greens too--ever make creamed spinach? Just make a white sauce and add frozen or slightly sautéed fresh spinach--add parmesan cheese, if you like--it's heavenly. I figure we could all do well to have more greens in our lives. So whatever gets them into our mouths is good.
One big thing to consider with greens is how tender/tough they are. Because that affects the cooking time completely. The more tender, the less they need done to them (thus spinach is great raw and to cook it takes only seconds--just enough to wilt it).
So here's my rough approximation of where some greens lie on the tender/tough scale:
Spinach
The tenderest of all. The "king" of greens. Most mild flavor too. What's not to love? Great wilted, great fresh. I'd eat spinach every day if I had the option. Also, makes your tummy feel good.
Swiss Chard 
The leaves are delightfully tender but the stems can be anywhere from somewhat tender (and lovely) to very tough (and inedible). Try using just the green leaf if there is any doubt about the stems. Tastes similar to spinach, with a texture that is only slightly beefier.
Dandelion Greens 
If fresh, needs only about 10 minutes in salted, boiling water to soften. They do age quickly, though, and can turn bitter and tough soon. But if you get them when they are tender, they are truly delightful! Greeks love them. They are great in Japanese shabu-shabu--one pot communal cooking, like Swiss fondue.
Kale
Somewhat chewy--needs more cooking than chard, has more robust flavor (e.g, somewhat more bitter) than chard. You may want to cut out the stems. Vegetarians eat them raw and they can easily go in green smoothies. I have to admit, kale isn't my favorite green--but, kale makes the top of the most nutritious green leafy veggies list.
Collard Greens
The toughest and most robust of all, but worth it. On the positive side, you can't hurt them. You can cook them for 20 minutes, forget about them, and when you come back, they are delicious and tender. Needs lots of seasoning, though.

Mustard 

I'm not that familiar with mustard greens. How are they? Where do they fall on the tender/tough scale? Let us know here at What I 8

Turnip Greens
I love turnip greens when they are served (in the South, look no further than Cracker Barrel, of all places!), but haven't found them available in stores.

More on Greens:
Health benefits--may be one of the healthiest foods on planet Earth. Seriously. Check this out:


CookingGreens.com

From MakeMeSweatX.tumbler.com