Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Redeeming mustard greens

[Today's CSA portion. It will be a very green week.]
I recognized the lettuces, the kale, the turnips, the kohlrabies, the chard, and even the garlic scapes. But what was that pile of disparate weeds in the middle? Some looked like oak leaves. Some were fairly large and looked like chard. Some were small and ragged. Most were green but some were almost black. The CSA list identified them as "assorted mustard greens." I had my doubts. And then I tasted one, and doubt turned to despair.

Well, I paid for those weeds, and I figured I had to do something with them. Amazingly, it worked.

Here's what I did. It's hardly a recipe for you to follow, because you don't have my leftovers. But perhaps it will save you from despair some evening when you have more nasty greens than you can manage (they don't have to be mustard greens). Your own leftovers will be fine.

1. Wash the greens and tear them into smaller pieces. Put them in a large pot. Cover with liquid: I used a combination of water and vegetable stock.

2. Bring the greens and liquid to a boil. Do not cover the pot. Let them boil, uncovered, until the greens are soft enough to eat. Mine were ready in about 15 minutes (some tougher greens could take up to an hour).

3. Let the greens cool for 30 to 60 minutes.

[Scary green slurry]
4. Drain the greens, reserving the liquid. Put the greens in a blender. Add enough liquid to cover. (You will probably have to do this in more than one batch.) Whiz the mixture until it's smooth. If it's thicker than you like your soup, add more liquid and whiz again. Hint: save the leftover liquid to use the next time you have to transform weeds into something edible.

Intermission: At this point I looked in my refrigerator and found a leftover serving of chard with pancetta (diced bacon). I dumped it in the blender with the soup and whizzed it all again. I then looked in the refrigerator again and found garlic scape pesto left over from last week. I added a spoonful and whizzed yet again. The pesto made a big difference to the flavor. 

Recommendation: Look in your refrigerator or pantry or spice rack or herb garden and think about what might improve the flavor of your watery green slurry (garlic usually helps). Give it a try.

5. Taste. I put a few spoonsful into a small bowl and microwaved it for a few seconds. I then stirred in a small spoonful of sour cream - the real stuff, not the imitation low-fat stuff that should really call itself something else.

WOW! It's a miracle! The hideous, bitter, menacing mustard greens had turned into a really delicious soup!

OK, I guess if mustard greens can be redeemed, so can lacinato (dinosaur) kale, and possibly even turnips. I'll get back to you.


Estelle Berger said...

Smile. I love your way with the more challenging (some might say nasty) members of the greens family. You're an inspiration to me! :-)

Unknown said...

It is a CULINARY EDUCATION reading your blog=merci. mel

Catharine Phillips said...

I love the CSA series. We are doing the Farmer's Market route this year. Discovered garlic scapes and fennel last year. Oh, and beets. Our vegan daughter is gone this summer, so...