I love food and I love eating. It’s an important social aspect in my life, and the food I choose to put in my mouth 3 times a day 7 days a week says a lot about me and my outlook. So I peck away at this keyboard trying to put into words the connections I see between life and the foods we eat. I enjoy sharing the foods that define my attitudes. But food is not strictly entertainment you know. Our bodies require food in order to thrive. So I feel a responsibility towards you and the foods I present here. After all, we are talking about the health and vitality that allows us to enjoy life to the fullest. So I am here today to cajole you with every mother’s mantra: EAT YOUR GREENS! Eating greens do not need to be a chore! I don’t understand why people resist.
Fortunately “going green” seems to be catching on. I think American’s long past due interest in the environment may finally make it cool to eat your greens too. And I am not talking about vegetarianism. Vegetarians choose to forego meat for all kinds of complicated reasons, not all of them are related to health issues. Because as I said the foods we choose to put into our bodies does help define us.
For me eating healthy is not about limitations or painful self-denial. It’s about celebrating the bounty of life. One of life’s great bounties is the amazing variety of gorgeous greens that are available to us today. From feathery fern fronds to sprouting bulbs, some with leaves broad and bold or others with their tender grassy spears. They can be plump and ripe or they can be prickly unsightly thistles. Some of these greens are bitter, some sweet, others sour. There are even greens in a rainbow of colors! The abundance of wild and tame greens devoured these days utterly defies enumeration. So it’s not hard to find some way to enjoy eating your greens.
Greens are common in the diets of all the world’s cultures. Many were eaten by the ancients. Greens like bryony, mustard, mache, and grape hyacinth were staples in pre-recorded history. Others are more recent additions to our cultural plates–spinach and Swiss chard are great examples of these. Most of these greens have their roots in the wilderness but are now widely cultivated. But there are others that still require a keen eye and a thoughtful pursuit.
As I have said before I gather and forage for wild mustard greens in the hills near my house. There are other greens out there too including Italian dandelion, which is different than the lawn pest you may already know about. It’s harder to find in my neighborhood than mustard. But I am always on the look out for it. I am sure there are wild edible greens in your area too.
So in order to encourage you to eat your greens, I have a simple and flavorful Braised Mustard Greens. This recipe can be adapted to most any variety of green. Just know that a tender young spinach leaf may only take a couple of minutes to braise, whereas kale might take 30 minutes.
I chose mustard greens because they are readily available to me. After braising I adorned them with a nutty hit of heat in the form of mustard seeds. The synchronicity appealed to me.
This recipe is for The Daily Spud’s St Paddy’s Day Food Parade! I hope it’s GREEN enough!
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 3 clv garlic, peeled & minced
- 1/2 c chicken stock
- 2 lb mustard greens, washed left whole with thick stems trimmed
- 1/4 t crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1/4 t whole mustard seeds, or to taste
Add the oil to a saute pan set over medium heat that is large enough to hold the greens laying flat. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic. Cooking them until fragrant and just beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
Pour the chicken stock over the mixture and add the red pepper flakes. Bring the stock to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and lay the greens out flat on top. Swirl the pan to get the greens coated with the liquid and cook 15 minutes. Turn the whole pile of greens once or twice during cooking using a spatula to keep them laid out flat for presentation. Season them with salt and pepper as you turn them.
Turn off the heat and add the red wine vinegar, swirling the pan once again to coat the greens. Carefully slide the greens out flat onto a serving platter and sprinkle with mustard seeds.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD