>There is no doubt that greens are good for you. The trick is how to trick everyone into eating them. A stolid few eat full-grown kale, mustard, or dandelions as a raw salad, but what about the rest of us?
Cooking the stronger-flavored greens will make them palatable to many, as will tempering the bitter greens with vinegar or lemon juice. At our table (which includes small children) butter, bacon, and/or cheese go a long way. Spicy flavors don’t work for my family, but they do serve to wake up many of the greens-impaired.
So, experiment—and remember that these recipes are just a guide!
VARIOUS GREENS RANKED BY FLAVOR
Pan di Zucchero
Escarole & Endive
Collards & Kale
FARM-STYLE BRAISED GREENS
2 strips Bacon
1 tbsp. Butter
1 Small onion, finely chopped
1 pound Greens, stems removed, roughly chopped
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Pinch of Ground Allspice
1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Lemon, sliced thin
1. Sauté the bacon strips in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble and reserve.
2. Add the butter to the bacon drippings in the
skillet. Cook the onion over medium-low heat until golden, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, rinse the greens in cold water.
4. Add the greens to the skillet, with just the water that clings to the leaves. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, the allspice, and the vinegar. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon and garnish with lemon slices.
4 tbsp. Butter
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
1 pound Greens, stems and leaves chopped separately
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Cream
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2/3 cup Fresh Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Grated Jarlsberg Cheese
5 Eggs, lightly beaten
1. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the stems and cook, covered, until tender. about 15 minutes. Stir in the leaves and cook, covered, until tender, about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and remove the cover. Cook, tossing constantly until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp. butter and add it with the remaining ingredients to the greens in the bowl. Mix well and pour into a buttered 1-1/2 quart soufflé dish. Place the dish in a roasting pan. Pour boiling water in the pan to half the depth of the soufflé dish. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the dish from the pan and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the souffé dish and very carefully invert it onto a shallow serving platter and serve.
GREEK MIXED GREENS (HORTA)
1-1/2 pounds Mixed Greens, well-washed, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Olive Oil
5 Scallions (or baby leeks), cut crosswise into fine rings
2 Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed and peeled but left whole
4 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with 1 tbsp. salt. Drop in the greens and boil for about 10 minutes. Drain.
2. Put the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the scallions and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the greens and about 1/2 tsp. salt (taste as you go) and mix well. Turn off the heat. Put the contents of the pan into a serving dish. Dribble the lemon juice and olive oil over the top and serve immediately.
Note: Any combination of 2 to 3 bunches of greens can be used. Try these winners:
• Swiss Chard, Dandelion, and Turnip Greens
• Beet Greens, Mustard, and Sorrel
• Kale, Mustard, and Dandelion
SMASHED POTATOES WITH BITTER GREENS AND SWEET ONIONS
8 Medium Waxy-Type Potatoes, about 1-1/4 pounds
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Butter
1 large Sweet Onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Ground Pepper
1/2 cup Hot Milk or Stock, or more as needed
1 big bunch Dandelion, Arugula, or other Greens, washed
1. Place whole potatoes and 2 tsp. salt in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high & cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain, return to pot, and keep warm.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil and 1 tsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, remove stems from greens. Roughly chop a quarter of the greens and set aside. Place remainder in a serving bowl.
4. While potatoes are still hot, roughly mash using a large fork or a whisk. Add hot milk or stock, remaining butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Mash to combine. Stir in half the onions and the chopped greens. Place potatoes over greens in bowl. Top with remaining onions. Seve hot.
2-1/2 pounds Sturdy Greens, stems removed
4-1/2 tbsp. Butter
2-1/2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock, hot
1/2 cup Grated Gruyére or Jarlsberg Cheese
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Grated Nutmeg
Dash of Hot Pepper Sauce (optional)
1/2 cup Fresh Bread Crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cook the greens,
covered, in boiling salted water until very tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold running water; drain, pressing out all the liquid with the back of a spoon. Chop fine.
2. Melt 2-1/2 tbsp. of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot stock. Cook until very thick, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the cheese, the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in the greens. Transfer to a buttered shallow baking dish.
3. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the bread crumbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden. Spoon over the greens mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.
STIR-FRIED GREENS WITH GINGER & GREEN CHILES
3 tbsp. Peanut or Canola Oil
1 Fresh Hot Green Chile, cut into long, fine slivers
3 slices Fresh Ginger, cut into long, fine slivers
1 pound Greens, cut crosswise into fine ribbons.
1/3 tsp. Salt, or to taste
1. Put the oil in a large pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the chile and ginger. Stir a few times and put in the beet greens. Stir a few times and then cover the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cook until the leaves have wilted. Add the salt and stir a few times. Add 4 tbsp. of water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Stir every now and then during this period.
SPICY SAUTÉED GREENS
2 pounds Greens (2 big bunches), tough stems removed and leaves cut crosswise into 4-inch pieces
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Large Garlic Cloves (more if desired)
1/2 tsp. Dried Hot Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp. Salt
1. Cook greens in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until ribs are tender, 4 to 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking and drain well, gently pressing out excess water.
2. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, then add greens, red pepper flakes, and salt and sauté, stirring , until liquid greens give off is evaporated, about 4 minutes.
3. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Note: This recipe works really well for Dandelion grens, but any bitter green can be used, or even a sweeter green like Chard or Spinach. Just remember that the lighter greens will take less time to cook. If you use a bitter green and the flavor is still too bitter for your taste after cooking, try dressing the greens with something acidic, like lemon juice or a vinaigrette—this will temper the bitterness.