[54] Greek-Style Cooked Greens

Cover of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman

For the record, we had this as a side dish to the “beer-glazed beans.”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/101-51-Beer-Glazed-Black-Beans-with-Bacon-and-Tomatoes!.html It’s just that it took me awhile to remember what the side dish/recipe was.

In addition, we very much did not have the 1 – 2 lbs of greens the recipe called for. However, I was not about to let THAT stop me. I’ve been struggling for most of our CSA to figure out how to properly store turnip greens for eating, and I’d found this recipe one week when I thought I had managed it. I was wrong that week, but it meant this was up my sleeve when I did finally get it right.

I really have never had collards or turnip greens or anything like that before this CSA. Okay, maybe swiss chard, since I can’t completely remember, but feel a vague memory tickling the back of my brain. Still, that is enough like “never” to prompt me to really want to try some.

I’m so glad I did. Holy cow, this was a surprisingly tasty and easy recipe! Try it sometime. If you’re one of my hippie or not-so-hippie friends who are growing greens right now, this would be an especially nice and easy way to serve some of them.

h2. Ingredients

Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 – 2 lbs dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale or spinach

Several tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 lemons, halved, for serving

h2. Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Trim the greens of any ends thicker than 1/4″ and discard trimmed ends. Wash the greens well, the poach until they are tender. This will be anywhere between ~2 & 10 minutes (for spinach vs old, tough greens). Drain them very well, then cool by running cold water over them. Once cooled, squeeze them thoroughly to get all the water out of them, then coarsely chop. Bittman says you can prepare the greens to this point and then refrigerate for a day, but you need to get them back to room temperature before proceeding.

Proceeding means tossing them with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and then passing lemon halves around to squeeze over the greens.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

Well, I don’t think I’ve ever told you about the time I “burned boiling water1”. And I’m not going to tell you now, since it might involve revealing youthful exploits on a website I hope my family reads (or will one day). But, suffice it to say, once upon a time even such a task had the promise of true danger for me.

Ah, youth. Back when I was younger and dumber. Now I can boil water and haven’t risked burning the house down in years! (Last time being, I think, when I forgot I was making chicken stock and went to bed. The stock was very reduced by the next morning, but also delicious.)

So, obviously, I’m saying all this to fill space in the “cooking” notes, because there’s just not much to say. I will say you need to kind of keep an eye on your greens, because I think I overcooked mine a touch. However, I don’t think that had much impact on anything, so it was fine.

Having a lot more greens would be a lot easier to chop the lot of them into tasty chunks. Of course, I made this recipe with great ease with probably 1/8 lb or so, so don’t let only having a small bunch deter you.

h3. Consumption

As I mentioned, I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. In fact, I didn’t think I’d like it at all. I’ve never been a huge fan of cooked greens, so I was 100% trying this because I had the food and that’s part of what both having the CSA share and engaging in this challenge are about. Glad I made myself try ’em!

I do wish I’d had more greens, actually. And I think a mix of greens would be FABULOUS. Our CSA, in the few weeks before I figured out saving the greens for a few days, included some radish greens2. I bet the spiciness of the radish greens would have been lovely with the mellowness of the turnip greens.

Go easy on the oil. It certainly adds flavor, but copious amounts aren’t necessary. I always have a heavy hand with the oils, so learn from my mistake and use a light touch.

Oh. And don’t have fresh lemons? No worries. We didn’t either. It was fine with some of that refrigerated lemon juice stuff. Which shocked me, because sometimes the preservatives in that lemon juice are very noticeable. I’ve no doubt fresh lemon juice would be tastier, but it also would have been seedier.

fn1. It wasn’t actually water I burned, obviously. It was the teabag I put in the water I put on the stove to make tea that burned.

fn2. If you want to try this, please bear in mind that the farmer says most radish greens are toxic. So make sure you have a variety that is, in fact, edible.