These beneficial greens are at their peak right now. In times past, greens were thought of as more of a tonic; and with good reason. Our ancestors may have lacked the science, but through observation they knew these greens contained something to back up their belief in the power of the greens. The greens brought renewed vigor to those who had been sick during the winter. Nowadays, with scientific data, we know just how right they were. Releasing their goodness when cooked, greens are rich in iron, protein and many of the essential vitamins and nutrients our bodies need.
Kale and collard greens can usually be found year-round in local grocery stores, but during winter these nutrient-rich members of the cabbage family are at their best, are more abundant, and the price is usually at its lowest too. It may seem daunting to prepare a huge bunch of greens; however, new ways of cooking greens couldn't be easier.
One bunch of greens from the grocery store will make 2-4 servings when cooked. The key to good greens is making sure they are thoroughly rinsed before cooking. Separate the bunch and using a sharp paring knife, cut off the stems and any discolored areas on the leaves. Stack the leaves up on a cutting board and roughly cut into 2 inch wide strips. Place the cut up greens in a large bowl of cold water. Rinse and pull the greens out of the water and place in a colander. Sand particles from the greens are left in the rinse water. Repeat this process until there are no longer sand particles in the bottom of the bowl of water. Place greens in colander and shake out excess water. Set aside to drain.
Garlic and Greens Sauté
2 tablespoons olive or safflower oil
3-4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 bunch greens, rinsed and cut
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place large lidded skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add oil and garlic. Lower heat and sauté garlic for several minutes until golden. Add greens and cover with lid. Leave lid on for 5 minutes. Greens will drastically reduce in volume during this time. Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Stir to coat greens with garlic oil mixture. Serves 2-4
Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup Recipe
I'm not usually a big fan of kale; I find it bitter. But in this recipe, the kale provides a compliment to the sweet carrots and squash resulting in a delicious winter soup.
3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered lenthwise
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges or 4 or 5 slices
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick wedges
6 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups or more of vegetable broth
4 cups of finely chopped kale
3 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz can of Great Northern white beans, drained
1 Preheat oven to 400°F (reduce heat by 25°F if using convection oven). Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick oil spray. Arrange carrots, tomatoes, onion, squash, and garlic on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until vegetables are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
2 Transfer carrots and squash to work surface. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces; set aside. Peel garlic cloves; place in processor. Add tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth. Pour 1/2 cup broth onto baking sheet; scrape up any browned bits. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot. Add 5 1/2 cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes.
3 Add beans, carrots, and squash to soup. Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Can be made a day ahead. Serves six.