Thursday, May 3, 2007


Greens are coming into their own for the season, so this week for cooking night I kept it simple. I picked up a bunch of dino kale, mustard greens, and spinach, thinking I'd just wilt them gently in a little butter. Then as I wandered through Whole Foods, I thought, hey, people cook kale with ginger, I think. So I got some ginger. And then, hey, ginger and citrus go well together.

I didn't cook the spinach -- it really was a formidable pile of greens, more than 8 people really needed -- but I made the kale and mustard greens. Separately, I tore out the thick stems from each leaf, ripped them up into edible-sized leaves, and rinsed them.

Then I heated up several tablespoons of unrefined peanut oil in a skillet, tossed in a couple tablespoons of finely chopped ginger (which I first sliced with my new beloved, $15 mandolin from Asahi imports.) Sauteed that on medium-low heat for a few minutes, added the greens, covered, and let cook until they'd wilted a bit. Then I stirred it up a bit to coat each leaf in some of the peanut oil and ginger, squeezed a lemon over the whole skillet, stirred again, and transferred the greens into a serving bowl.

I took some kind of orange citrus, I think it was a tangelo, and sliced it in half, gutted the flesh and sliced it up into bits, and then shaved the rind into thin peels. I mixed a good few large pinches of that, maybe 4 tablespoons total, into the greens.

I cooked the kale and mustard greens separately. I think the kale came out quite well, although it was strong. The ginger was prominent and the kale itself is robust. It got eaten, though, and I'd certainly eat it again. The peanut oil helped cut the other flavors a bit -- the rest were bitter, or acidic, and the peanut oil is so mellow and deep. Next time I'd probably toss in a small handful of chopped toasted peanuts, too, to bring that out a bit more.

As for the mustard greens, well, I forgot just how mustardy they taste, because it's been years since I've had them. They were really intense. The mustard intensity of the leaves with the ginger and the citrus was so strong I winced every time I took a bite, kind of like the way I recoil a little when I eat wasabi or a particularly strong salsa. I liked them alright, but man, eating them was slow going. Next time I think I'll leave the mustard greens for soups or some other aggregate dish where their mustard flavor is a welcome contribution instead of the main, super-intense flavor.

If anyone has any other recommendations on ways to prepare greens, I'm all ears. I've got chard, gem lettuce, and spinach seedlings all nearing an inch tall in the garden, so within a couple months it looks like I'll have more leaves than I know what to do with, and I'll probably get tired of salad dressing and ginger/citrus/peanut soon enough. Cooking these tonight made me realize I don't really have enough techniques for preparing greens, and they're so good for me I'd like some variety so I can look forward to eating them even more often!



Lulu said...

When it gets summerier, i will be excited to saute onions in a wide pan with a good amount of oo or butter, then add chopped tomatoes and cook the crap out of them until it's all a syrupy mess, then add some steamed kale.
Saag paneer? That's good with 1/4 mustard greens and 3/4 spinach. Do you have a stick blender? I am a recent convert.

May 4, 2007 11:42 AM  
brian said...

Yes! I got a hand blender for Christmas and use it all the time. For pureeing soups and sauces, it's incredibly convenient.

Good call with the tomatoes. And good call with the saag paneer -- that would be great with mustard greens, you're right.

May 4, 2007 11:53 AM  
Jennifer said...

Suggestion for enjoying greens:

Feed them to your bunny.

May 4, 2007 12:02 PM  

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