Greens are still plentiful in our garden this time of year–kale, beet greens, and spinach–and I love to eat ’em. We even eat the leaves off broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Since I don’t like the mush that passes for greens in some circles, here’s the Right Way to make a pot of delicious greens:
- Harvest a bunch of greens. That is, a lot. One plastic grocery bag packed to the gills will feed about three people (assuming veggie-lovers like me and Erin). When I harvest greens, I take as much stem off the plant as I can, then cut again at the base of the leaf. Last week I got a huge bag of collards from Barefoot Gardens; it cooked down to about 10% original volume.
- Wash the greens carefully. I use five-gallon buckets. If your greens are a little buggy (like ours–better bugs than poison, IMO) just leave ’em underwater fifteen minutes or so, and the beasts will flee.
- Stack up about 15 leaves with the stem in the center. Cut down the middle of the leaf, flip one half over onto the other, then cut the greens in strips about 3/4 inch wide. Keep cutting. I cut them all at once; they’ll keep this way (especially if spun dry) for four or five days.
- Using a big-ole pot, heat enough olive oil to saute an onion (I like to use Vidalias) and three or four cloves of garlic. Add about a tablespoon of salt as well. If you’re not using spicy greens, you can add a jalapeño or other hot pepper at this time. If you believe in Meat, toss in a little bit. Ham hocks are traditional, but bacon, broth, and sausage all work just fine.
- Crank the fire up. Add the greens gradually; as they wilt, stir occasionally until you can fit ’em all in. Then add about three tablespoons of cider vinegar. Keep the lid off so the liquid can evaporate.
- Cook the greens until they are no longer tough, and they change from a bright green to a dull green. This is when I add a coarsely chopped red or yellow pepper or two.
- Fish out one of the stemmy parts of the greens; when it’s slightly soft, the greens are done. They should still be green, NOT brown.
- Important. Cut the heat and drain any liquid left in the pot. Skip this step, and you’ll be eating mush when you come back for seconds.
Ideally, greens are served with barbeque. But you can eat ’em alone, or with bratwurst, coarse bread, and sweet corn, like Erin and I did last week. Enjoy.