Monday, August 8, 2011

Greens Are The Old Greens

I credit Food Network and all the other cable cooking channels for exposing us to the wide variety of leafy greens. Ten years ago I probably only ate spinach, and might have heard of collard greens, but now I find myself becoming quite the connosieur of leafy green vegetables and am surprised by their distinctive tastes and textures.

Collard greens are delicious boiled for hours with ham hocks and maybe a little bit of onion. Some people add bacon fat. They cook the leaves down until they're so tender that they nearly fall apart. My step-mother's mother makes some mean collard greens, but the best I've ever had was at Mrs. B's restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. I took two quarts home with me upon that discovery.

Kale is a new staple in our household, thanks to Rachael Ray. She taught us how to wilt them down into a pan of cut-up bacon strips (with some bacon grease intact). Then we add sundried cranberries and a liberal dash of nutmeg. It's wonderful.

Swiss Chard was something we'd never experimented with before, but saw at a farmer's market. The farmer selling it gave us a recipe that entailed cutting the stalks up like celery and sauteing them with red onion and garlic. To that, add for wine, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Wilt down the Swiss chard leaves until tender. The result was an earthy sweet-and-sour flavor. We'll try that recipe again.

Spinach is one dark green that I like raw or cooked. A nice spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs slices, bacon, mushrooms and tomato is perfect when I want something both hearty and light. But we also like wilted spinach in our pasta with sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and feta cheese. Funny, we usually have left over pasta but we've always picked out all the spinach.

Mustard greens and turnip greens are next on our list. We've found some interesting recipes for these, one of which includes cornmeal and Bisquick. Sounds like a twist on southern cooking. Oughta be good.

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