Saturday was a beautiful spring day to get our first CSA box. Since we are sharing a full share, my friend and I divided up the veggies – and swapped our stinging nettles for some extra asparagus. (Although stinging nettles are apparently useful for making a digestive-aiding tea and a kind of hair conditioner, having to wear gloves while cooking them seemed like a rough way to start this culinary adventure.)
My husband and I are big salad eaters, so eating all the fresh spring lettuce has been amazing. Probably we are forever ruining our ability to eat lettuce from the grocery store without complaining…. And although I have plans for the asparagus, radishes, and rhubarb, I decided to start with some of the less appealing (to me) veggies – mustard greens and collard greens. I’ve never made or eaten either, so I wasn’t really sure what I was going for. Originally, I intended to just saute the collard greens with garlic and olive oil, but then I found a more “traditional” braised collard greens recipe that also involved mustard greens, and I figured “two birds,” right?
I’ll post the recipe that I used at the end, along with the link to the actual recipe.
I started by frying chopped bacon in a little olive oil, then added garlic, then chicken stock and apple cider vinegar. Finally, I added the greens (chopped and ribs removed) and a little sugar. The greens simmered for about 30 minutes, until they looked well-wilted.
The end result looked just like the recipe photo promised – but this was less than appetizing. I’m not one of those that thinks food is always better with bacon, so I wasn’t sure that even the bacon could improve this dish. I served the braised greens with leaf lettuce salads and soy sauce marinated grilled chicken. My husband and I each put about one small bite of collard and mustard greens on our plates, because I was determined that we would at least try everything. To my surprise, it was actually really tasty. The vinegar gave the greens a little bite, while the bacon added saltiness. I had anticipated a mushy texture, but the collard greens were firmer than I had imagined. The mustard greens were a little chewy for my taste, and my husband and I both agreed that we’d leave them out if we make this again. I also might crisp the bacon, then remove it from the pan, adding it back in once the greens are finished cooking. This way, it would remain crispy and might add a nice crunch.
One of the food values that I hope to pass on to my son is that trying new foods is a good thing. No one likes everything, but having at least a taste of everything is important, as you never know when something might surprise you! My husband is beyond kind about everything I make, and never complains, even when I burn things. So I don’t ask him if he likes things; he will always say that he does! Instead, I ask him if he’d like to have it again and use that as a measure of his liking of the new meal or dish. This time, unsolicited, he said he’d like to have the collard greens again sometime. So I’m going ahead and declaring this first attempt a success! Next time, I think we’ll try it with a light fish…
Now, having never had collard greens at all before, I can’t speak to the southern authenticity. It seemed like a lot of other recipes called for the greens to be cooked much longer. What do you think? Any other ways that you like to prepare collard greens or mustard greens?
Braised Collard Greens and Mustard Greens
Makes 2-3 servings
6 Collard Green leaves, ribs removed
2 good handfuls of mustard greens, ribs removed and chopped into 1 inch strips
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 slices of bacon, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (or a little less)
1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar
scant Tablespoon of sugar
Heat olive oil over medium high heat to a large skillet or pot. Add chopped bacon and cook until crispy. Remove pan from heat and add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and vinegar and return pan to medium heat. Add the chopped greens and sugar. Stir, then partially cover the skillet. Let simmer for 30 minutes, until greens are wilted and very dark green. Remove the greens and bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.