Friday, July 8, 2011

These Are Not My Mother's Greens!

My mother was not a particularly good cook.  Actually, she didn't really like to cook.  She tended to boil things to death.  Do you know what I mean?  Do you remember spinach, or squash, or broccoli that was so limp and lifeless and unappetizing that you didn't want to put it in your mouth?    That's the way it arrived at our table most of the time.

My dad loved turnip greens and my mom loved spinach and they argued over which was best.  If they had ever bothered to ask me, I would have told them neither one was particularly good.  Do you know why?  Think limp and lifeless with a touch of slime thrown in.  Ewww.

Greens do NOT have to arrive at the table that way - ever!
There are so many delicious ways to prepare them.  Did you know that we need at least 3 cups of dark green vegetables per week?  Why you ask?  Because they are considered nutritional powerhouses.  That's right!  This is an excerpt from
on the nutritional value of greens.  It will make you feel a whole lot better about eating them, besides the facts that they are delicious.

"Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.  They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium) and vitamins including K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.  They also provide a variety of photo nutrients including Beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which protects our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects.  Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats."

Greens are also known to help reduce cholesterol, especially when steamed or sauteed.

There is a restaurant here in Nashville called Taco Mamacita and they do updated versions of Tex/Mex cuisine.  They serve chipotle greens and they are dynamite!  You know me - my first thought was I can replicate these!  Since greens are more than plentiful at the Farmer's Market right now, I stepped right up to the plate (no pun intended) and created my own version of this dish.  I used collard greens.  Do you know about collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and the many other varieties of greens?  Here's a little lesson.

Turnip greens are delicious, but are slightly bitter.  Collard greens are a little chewier, they have a thicker leaf,  but no bitter taste.  Mustard greens have a slightly peppery taste and then there is my favorite, baby spinach!  Turnip greens, collards, mustard greens and kale have a thick stem which needs to be removed before cooking.  Here is what a collard green leaf looks like and how I remove the stems.

Front of a collard green leaf.  They are about 12 inches long.

I fold the leaf in half, grab the stem at the top and peel it down to the bottom of the leaf.

All kinds of greens cook WAY down, so you have to prepare a lot of them before you cook.  I bought 3 pounds and thoroughly washed all the leaves and peeled all the stems.  Then you place them in piles and cut them into about 3" x 3" pieces.  You will have a huge mound of greens, but don't worry, they will cook down to just a bowl full.

Ingredients Needed:

about 3 lbs of Greens: Collard, Turnip, Mustard, or Kale
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
hot sauce (I used Tapito)
Chicken broth or water, about 1  or 2 cups

After preparing your greens, place a large pan on the stove.  (Preferably, one with deep sides.)  Pour in about 2/3 Tbsps olive oil.  Add the onion and garlic and saute.  Pile the greens in by hands full and let them wilt down after each addition while stirring.  Dice about 5 of the chipotle peppers and add them to the sauteed greens.  Dot with about 10 drops of hot sauce.  Add about 1 cup of chicken broth or water if you prefer.  Add more water if necessary.  Add about 2 tsps of the adobo sauce from the can.  The water/chicken stock keeps the peppers from sticking.  Stir continuously.  Add salt to taste.  When greens have reduced and most of the stock is gone, remove from stove immediately and place in bowl to serve.

Now I will tell you, these are NOT my mother's greens.  These are tender but not limp and slimy, spicy and delicious.  If you prefer more spice, add more chipotle peppers or hot sauce.  You will not mind eating 3 cups of these in a weeks time.  Give this a try.  It's a great new spin on an old summertime reliable and really healthy and good for you.  Hope you enjoy!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Life is a song, sing it!  Mother Teresa

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