Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Greens 101

I recently became aware that I use the term "greens" with some ambiguity. "What exactly are greens?" a friend asked me. Ready to bestow my overflowing knowledge to this greenhorn (pun comPLEtely intended), I opened my mouth and froze.


The leaves? There are the basics: mustard, kale, collards, chard, etc. You can also eat the tops of lots of root vegetables like beets and turnips. I am continually surprised by delicious greens turning up at the farmer's markets around here--are they grown in and of themselves, like spinach and bok choi? Or are they a byproduct of something else, like broccoli or kohlrabi?

After snapping my gaping yapper shut (realizing I had no real wisdom to dispense), I did some half-hearted and fruitless research. The conclusion I have reached--and feel quite comfortable with--is that "greens" can encompass any kind of edible leaves that aren't grown into a compact head (like lettuce, cabbage, etc.).

Problem is, most of these greens are quite bitter, especially the kind you'll find in the grocery store, unless prepared well. Because they are in season now, we have been eating a lot (a LOT) of greens lately, and I wanted to you to eat them too. So, allow me to introduce you to a simple, three step, 15-minute way of preparing any green of your choice.

Greens 101
(serves 2; start-to-finish 10ish minutes)

1 bunch greens
olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (depending on your preference; I like 2)
1/4 cup chicken broth
  1. Start by preparing your greens. Rinse them well under running water or submerge them in a big bowl of water, lightly shaking to release dirt. Do not dry. Remove the leaves from the stem, then chop the leaves. I like to slice the leaves crosswise in thin ribbons because they're easier to eat.
  2. Film a large pan with olive oil and heat med-hi. Saute onions with a little salt until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add your chopped greens to the skillet and turn to distribute garlic/onions in the pan. Pour in broth and cover. Let steam for 3 or 4 minutes, until greens are tender.
  3. Remove lid and stir; season liberally with salt and pepper and taste. If greens are too bitter, add more broth and continue to simmer.
  4. To serve, lift out greens, leaving any liquid behind. Eat up.

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