Recipe Week Three

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens

I’m quite certain that the next nutritionist who analyzes my diet in great detail on national television will comment on my lack of salads.

I find it difficult to make salads cost-effectively unless I eat them every day, and I don’t like salads enough to eat them every day, so I don’t make salads much at home, but it’s pretty easy to get a good salad when you’re out, so I never really feel very deprived by this.

I think if you like salads a lot, it’s not too expensive to eat them at home regularly, especially if you make your own dressing which is very easy and also much better than bottled dressings. Also it’s not hard to grow lettuces and other greens, if you have the space/time/inclination for that. So that’s what I would do if I liked salads (and/or gardening) more than I do at this point in my life.

But instead of salads, I prefer to eat leafy greens like kale and collards during the winter months.

I nearly always cook it using a technique I learned from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook, which is really a great resource. It lists individual vegetables in alphabetical order, with a beautiful color illustration of each vegetable, along with a description of the vegetable, when it’s in season, and what to look for when buying, followed by a few simple recipes. Perfect if you’re interested in trying different vegetables but aren’t sure what to do with them.

There was only a little bit of green kale at Whole Foods last week, and it was not the happiest-looking kale I’d ever seen, but the collard greens looked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so I got some those instead and cooked it the same way.

I served it with roasted chicken drumsticks and a baked sweet potato the first and second nights and am still working through the rest. (Receipts and full outline of Week Three meals to come.)

I’m putting the original recipe here, though I don’t actually measure anything when I make this recipe; it doesn’t really matter. I like it very vinegar-y so I think I probably add more vinegar than the recipe calls for; I rinse the kale before chopping and have never noticed a problem; and I add pepper as well as salt while cooking. This is really just a general technique.

Sautéed Kale with Garlic and Vinegar
from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

This is a basic method of cooking greens that works equally well with nearly all the leafy greens. It also makes a simple pasta dish: Put on some pasta to cook while you sauté, and when the noodles are done, toss them together with the greens, moistened with a little more olive oil and a ladle of the pasta cooking water.

2 bunches kale (about 2 pounds)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Strip the kale leaves off their stems and cut away the tough midribs of any large leaves. Chop coarsely and wash in plenty of water. Drain well, but do not spin dry.

Heat a large saute pan and add the olive oil and enough kale to cover the bottom of the pan. Allow these greens to wilt down beforer adding more. When all the kale has been added, season with salt, stir in the garlic, and cover the pan. The greens will take anywhere from just a few mintues to 15 minutes to cook, depending on their maturity. When they are tender, remove the lid and allow any excess water to cook away. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.

Serves 4 to 6

One Response to “Recipe Week Three”

  1. Groovy Girl Says:

    This is pretty much the way I cook all green vegetables, but I didn’t know it was an Alice Waters technique – I feel much more sophisticated now. If you want to mix it up, you can use lemon juice instead of vinegar and throw in a few pine nuts for texture. This is really great with spinach.

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