Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mustard Greens

Almost too pretty to cook?

What distinguishes mustard greens from all the other bitter greens is a very resilient texture, and utterly resistance to any kind of sliminess. They stand up to long stewing and simmering with some real backbone to provide a very pleasurable toothy bite. And how about the color! To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, "Wow, talk about green!" Yes, they are very bitter and some folks don’t care for that, but there are a couple of ways to tame them. Mustard greens pair up beautifully with lentils. One of my most beloved winter dishes is the Lentiche con Verdura Selvatica in Viana LaPlace’s Verdure. Oh, do I love this book. In LaPlace’s recipe, you simmer diced carrots, onions, and celery with oregano, add brown lentils, and then water and chopped, cooked greens. It is wonderfully comforting and satisfying.

Sometimes, though, you just want the greens to shine on their own. In such cases caramelized onions are a wonderful companion and contrast.

Mustard Greens with Onions

1 bunch mustard greens

4 medium onions

oil, salt

red wine or balsamic vinegar

Wash the greens well and remove them from their stems. Cook the leaves in boiling water to cover until tender, about ten minutes. Remove the greens and chop roughly. Reserve the pot-liquor.

Slice the onions into thin half moons. Heat oil in an iron skillet and add the onions. Cook at very low heat, stirring frequently, until they are all deeply brown and just a few are beginning to crisp. This will take a while. Add the chopped greens, some of the pot-liquor that clings to them, a bit of salt, and raise the heat. Cook and stir for a few minutes and then pour in a few tablespoons of red wine or balsamic vinegar. (I made this Monday with vinegar and Sunday with some leftover pinot noir. Sometimes there is leftover pinot noir!)

Use remaining pot liquor in soups or add to vegetable juices.

The Yiddish word for pot liquor is der GRINsnsents or der GRINsn-esents

La Place, Viana. Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style. 1st ed. New York: Morrow, 1991.


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