I recently figured out any easy way to process the abundance of greens Bob and I take in from our garden and two CSA’s. It’s my job to keep the produce flowing from farm box to plate and the bulk of it is greens. Making sure we eat them is the best health insurance we can buy.
Prolific and inexpensive, greens are packed with an impressive array of vitamins and minerals including vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, and E, calcium, carotenes, copper, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium. Our immune systems are bursting with vigor from eating so much kale, chard, spinach, beet, turnip, and mustard greens.
Greens weren’t a part of my childhood. I was raised in the north on northern vegetables, many of them frozen, taken from the freezer and plopped into the steamer as solid bricks of peas, corn, broccoli, spinach, lima beans or brussel sprouts. My least favorites were okra, a slimy mound of fibrous discs and frog’s eyes and the whole leaf spinach which made me gag as the long veins worked their way down my throat.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I began cooking with fresh greens. It began with stirring a pound of chard into a pot of curry and evolved into greens as a side dish in its own right. This time of year, we’re eating half a bushel of greens a week.
Each week we pick up our weekly half bushel of fresh picked produce from Edible Earthscapes. This week it was packed with kale, chard, mustard greens, mizuna, carrots, and salad greens. This past Friday, Bob brought home a grocery bag full of kale and a half bushel of radishes, turnips and carrots, greens attached from Central Carolina Community College’s Land Lab.
The challenge of turning all of these greens into food can be daunting. Last night while I stood at the sink, rinsing and chopping greens, I couldn’t help but stare at the enormous kale plant outside our kitchen window, crying out to be harvested. “Any day now” I thought “Bob’s going to walk inside with his arms full of kale.” I caught myself hoping today wasn’t going to be that day.
Last year I froze a fair amount of greens and that worked out great. I just wash and chop and put them into plastic freezer bags and squeeze out the air. We cooked and served these frozen greens at a New Years Day party and they were just fine.
This year, I’ve challenged myself to keep up with the greens by cooking them as I get them to eat that night or keep for another meal. Save the freezer space. Get the vitamins at their fullest. It doesn’t take that long to fix them up when we get them and a grocery bag full cooks down into six or seven cups which takes up a lot less space in the refrigerator.
Here’s what I do. I chop an onion and sauté it in peanut oil in a large pot. I put all the greens in the sink and rinse them, then stack the leaves on the cutting board and chop them into bite sized pieces. I’m finicky enough to remove the large veins from everything but the chard but that’s up to you.
Stir the chopped chard stems and the heavier greens (kale, chard, mustard greens and collards) into the onion, add a couple of tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce and cover to let them steam. After a few minutes, I stir the greens up with the onion and add the lighter greens – spinach, turnip, radish and mizuna to steam for another minute.
This delicious green vitamin dish is now ready for storage or can be cooked a little longer and served immediately. And that’s how easy it is to keep up with the greens!