Farmers Market Favorites | Greens Three Ways
Green, green GREEN. The markets are flush with GREEN. Or GREENS rather. Tis the season for healthy, nutrient dense greens, and below, you'll find three quick ways to prepare them that will please even the most stalwart of greens-averse eaters. I should know. I once was one, myself.
Never one to do things small, some 8 plus years ago, I decided that I was a farmer. Overnight. You'll find the rest of that story, here. And if that wasn't BIG enough, I decided that I'd eat, primarily, only food that I grew or raised myself. That first year. That first year before the garden was even tilled. That first year that began at the end of....November.
You know what grows in Texas in the winter? GREENS. Lots of 'em. And this city girl turned farmer (turned city girl, again, since) didn't really cotton to greens. But I'd made a pledge, darn it, and I wasn't going back on my word. Even if it was a word that seemed impossible to adhere to in the light of day when one with more sense and less stubbornness would have acquiesced, read the writing in the dirt, and hit the closest grocery store.
Nope. Not this girl. Not this FARMER. I had no sense.
And that's how it came to be that this FARMER, learned to cook GREENS. Lots of 'em. And I learned to like them. Heck. I learned to LOVE them. A few simple ingredients, that I did not grow that first season incidentally ( I said primarily. PRIMARILY.), and I discovered how to turn out a bowlful of greens that both nourished and delighted, and dang it if I didn't start craving greens.
Now traditionally, a pot of greens in many southern homes would require a lot of smoked pork, a lot of time, and not just a little bit of bacon grease. I set about to create, through trial and error, and reduced each of these elements to retain the nutrients and cut the fat, so to speak.
A lot has changed since that beginning crop. A WHOLE lot. But a few things remain. I still love my greens, and I still know how to make them shine. I like them garlicky, peppery, savory, a tad salty, a touch smoky, and quick. I shared my secrets last weekend at the Texas Farmers' Markets with the help of a bounty of greens from Johnson's Backyard Garden, as well as some of my favorite market products-- turkey bone broth from Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen, and pretty and plump Crimini mushrooms from Kitchen Pride. If you happen to be outside of the Austin area, I bet it wouldn't be hard for you to find some worthy substitutes.
Save for the turkey broth, no meat was added to the recipes, below, but a heartier meal might include a fried egg or two, a crumble of feta or goat cheese, and perhaps a few ounces of the meat or seafood of your choice. You'll see below that I brought a few faithful food friends along-- garlic, onions, chili flakes, smoked salt, ginger, rice wine vinegar (unseasoned) and toasted sesame oil-- a great start to building a pantry of staples that will keep you creating healthful, and less indulgent greens that the whole family, and most importantly, YOU, will love.
1 pint Belle Vie Farm and Kitchen turkey bone broth
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic, chopped
a pinch of cracked red pepper
2 bunches collard greens, center stems removed, shredded
Optional: smoked salt to taste
Add all ingredients to a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer, covered, and cook until greens are as tender as you like them, or about 30 minutes. Season with optional smoked salt. Adjust seasonings.
1T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut in half, then sliced
1 cup sliced Crimini mushrooms
2 heads curly endive, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Over medium low heat, bring olive oil to a shimmer, and add sliced onions. Cook slowly, stirring often, until onions are golden brown (about 40 minutes). Remove from skillet, retaining any remaining liquid. Add mushrooms to skillet, along with enough oil to keep them from sticking, if necessary. Increase burner to medium high heat to sear mushrooms. Add greens to skillet and return caramelized onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until greens have wilted, about 15 minutes. Season with black pepper.
1T grapeseed oil
1T toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cracked red pepper
2 bunches Swiss chard
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
Optional: 1 bunch young carrots, sliced crosswise, lengthwise, or both, simmered in salted water until crisp-tender.
Warm grapeseed and toasted sesame oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, stirring constantly, until golden. Add remaining ingredients and cook until chard is limp. Add rice wine vinegar, stirring and scraping the juices from the bottom of the pan and incorporating into greens mixture. Add carrots to greens, optionally. Correct seasonings and serve.
Disclosure: I am a contract market chef for the Texas Farmers' Markets. Except where indicated, the food above was provided free of charge by vendors for demonstration. Recipes and photos are my own.