Great Greens

Great Greens!

Just saying the word “greens” still brings back memories of my mother’s tinny tasting canned spinach.

In her defense, recipes in her day read something like “boil until soggy and cover with cream sauce”. That mushy texture and bland flavor was etched deeply in my taste bud memory bank, and finding the delete key required much experimenting and inspiration from other cooks.

These days I find myself bringing greens home from the market two or three times a week. “Eat more greens” is an often-repeated prescription from dietitians and for good reason.

Greens are so rich in the vitamins and minerals most of us just don’t get enough of. They are an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins–E and C as well as beta carotene, a form of vitamin A. These antioxidants play a role in reducing cancer and heart disease. Best of all, greens are an excellent sources for those of us trying to be mindful of our calcium intake.

There is such a diversity of greens to choose from. I like combining a couple of different ones in a recipe to balance out their flavors as greens vary in intensity.

Watercress, chard, and dandelion greens are probably the mildest in flavor. Arugula, escarole, spinach and curly endive are medium-spicy with mustard and turnip greens being the most spicy–or bittersweet. Collards and kale are not really peppery at all; they have a somewhat earthy, neutral flavor.

Greens are all very similar to cook. They will steam or sauté in three to seven minutes and should be added to soups the last 15 minutes of cooking. Kale probably takes the most amount of time to soften.

This one-pot meal has become a staple at our house. Remembering to cook a few extra potatoes the night before is the real trick to speeding up the process. It makes a nutrient dense, ready-in-minutes meal. My mother would have loved it.

Ragout of Greens & Sausage

Two tablespoons olive oil
One medium onion, chopped
Three – four cloves garlic, minced
One half red pepper, chopped
Two turkey, beef or chicken sausages, sliced lengthwise and cut into bite-size pieces
One bunch kale, chard or a combination of greens
Three medium potatoes, pre-cooked
Three quarters cup vegetable or chicken broth or the juice from a 14-ounce can of whole tomatoes

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, sour cream or yogurt to garnish (optional)

Sauté onion and sausage in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the garlic and red pepper the last few minutes.

Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces. Add potatoes, washed greens, broth, salt and pepper. Cover, and simmer until greens are softened but not mushy. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, yogurt or parmesan cheese.

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