Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it… Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In these dark days of winter, when it is especially hard to imagine that January will ever end, keep the hearth going with delicious, seasonal food that keeps the spirit bright and the body well nourished.
There are a variety of hearty winter greens that pack a lot of flavor—and that much more of a nutritional punch. The Kale family includes such delicious varieties as collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and dinosaur kale… they are descended from wild cabbage and rank among the most highly nutritious vegetables around.
Packed with vitamins C, B6 and manganese, winter greens are a great source of dietary fiber and minerals such as copper, iron and calcium. Better than a flu shot if you ask me!
I am a big fan of winter greens, and during this time of the year they are on the table at least four nights a week. Last night, it was a mix of mustard greens and dino kale sautéed in garlic and olive oil, served over whole wheat pasta, and sprinkled with prosciutto that had been crisped in the oven.
I also love to wrap collards around a mixture of rice and veggies, top them off with some tomato sauce and a little cheese, and bake the whole thing until the collards are soft and pliable.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Wintry greens are tough, and the stems even more so. To ready them for cooking, pull the leafy parts off the stems and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. I find that blanching them in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes enhances the color and makes the greens less fibrous and more easily digestible.
• After you blanch, remove the greens from the water with tongs or a slotted spoon… and then recycle that same water to cook pasta (which is then infused with extra vitamins and minerals)
• Cool the water and use it on your plants
• Keep the kale stems and a few leaves to add to vegetable juice…
• Blanch your greens for 2-3 minutes, remove and squeeze out excess water.
• Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of toasted sesame oil in a large skillet.
• Add a few cloves of chopped garlic and maybe a shake of red pepper flakes... heat until the garlic is cooked but not browned
• Add about 3/4 cup of sliced purple cabbage, saute for 2-3 minutes
• Add the blanched greens.
• When the greens are just about cooked through add a splash of Thai fish sauce and two splashes of tamari/soy sauce.
• Cook for another two-three minutes while thinking about the how the beauty of winter offers us a space to go inward to ponder the quiet beauty of the season.