I have never met a green I didn’t like. Mustards. Collards. Broccoli rabe. Bok Choy. Pak Choy. Arugula. Spinach. Radish Tops. Beet Greens. Swiss chard. Kale. Cabbage. I love them all.
Consequently we eat greens at virtually every meal around here, especially at this time of year. Most often I just saute the greens with a bit of garlic and call it good, but I also stir them into eggs, stuff them into empanadas, and add them to soup. Here are 10 simple ideas for eating more greens!
Basic Sauteed Greens
Gather greens from the garden (it is okay to mix and match the greens). Plan on harvesting at least 2 1/2 cups of raw greens per person, as they will really cook down. Remove any tough stems. Chop into slender 1/2 inch ribbons or small pieces. Place the greens in a colander and rinse them well under a stream of cool water. Shake off the excess water and set aside.
Heat one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Force two plump cloves of garlic through a press and add to the oil. Cook the garlic until slightly softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Raise the heat to medium high and add in the damp greens. Toss with tongs until just barely wilted and bright green. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Serve!
Asian. Add a tablespoon of minced ginger in with the garlic. Instead of salt, toss the cooked greens with a bit of tamari.
Italian. Toss the cooked greens with golden raisins and toasted pine nuts (this version is especially good with broccoli rabe).
Moroccan. Cut a preserved lemon in half, remove the flesh and cut away the pith. Rinse the remaining lemon skin under water to remove extra salt; then mince. Saute the preserved lemon with the garlic and a spoonful of harissa for about a minute before adding the greens.
Sesame. Drizzle a bit of toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way) over the greens. Toss and then garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Spicy. Finely mince a serrano pepper (I usually removed the seeds) and add it in with the garlic. Or stir a little sriracha sauce into some soy sauce and toss with cooked greens.
Simple Greens-Based Entrees
Easy Empanadas. I got the idea to make these vegetarian empanadas from my friend Katy. Thaw two sheets of puff pastry for 45 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the pastry out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out 6 inch rounds. Smear a bit of olive tapenade in the center of each round, then place a mound of sauteed greens on top of the tapenade, plus a bit of grated cheese. Fold the pastry over on top of itself (to form a half moon shape). Seal. Brush with egg and bake in a 425 degree F oven until golden brown.
Quick Tart. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out a pie crust into an 8 inch circle (you can use a store bought crust, I won’t tell). Sprinkle a half cup of parmesan cheese over the crust. Mound greens into the center of the crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the border over the outside edge of the greens. Sprinkle more cheese over the center of the tart. Transfer the tart onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven until the crust is browned.
Lazy Soup. Place 3/4 cup of sauteed greens in the bottom of a deep soup bowl. Top with warmed chicken or vegetable broth. If you like, add in any of the following: thinly sliced snow or snap peas, shelled english peas, roasted asparagus, cooked rice or lentils, cooked tofu or chicken, a bit of grated cheese, croutons.
Green Eggs (Ham Optional). Whisk four eggs together with a bit of milk and grated parmesan cheese. Melt some butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Pour in the eggs and scramble them. When the eggs just begin to form curds, add in the greens and continue to cook until the eggs reach your desired consistency. Or, use the greens to stuff an omelette. Add in ham or prosciutto if you like.