by Susie Middleton
from Fine Cooking #105, p. 58-65
To me, shopping at the farmers’ market is like a treasure hunt—I always come home with a great find. And at this time of year, I get particularly excited when I see all those bunches of leafy greens on display. They just seem to scream “fresh,” and I want to buy one of each right then and there. You could do that. Or you could buy one at a time, probably the better strategy. It’s a great way to discover a new green and add a few easy dishes to your weeknight repertoire. See my "Tips for Great Greens" below and watch the Test Kitchen's video for quick tips on trimming kale; the method demonstrated works equally well for chard and collards.
Maybe start with Tuscan kale, which has a mellower, nuttier flavor than regular kale. Small heads of bok choy are sweet and incredibly adaptable. Each of the neon colors of rainbow chard has a different flavor; together, they make for a gorgeous side dish. Nothing’s more elegant (or flavorful) than the long, lanky leaves of dandelion greens. And even old-fashioned collard greens become a decidedly modern side dish when sliced thin and sautéed superfast.
These five make a great introduction to the world of greens, each unique and surprisingly versatile. And they don’t get any better than they are now, so let the hunt begin.
|Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts, Parmesan, and Basil||Tuscan Kale with Shallots and Crisp Salami|
|Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Garlic, Ginger, and Scallions||Quick-Sautéed Collard Ribbons|
|Tips for Great Greens
Don’t undercook or overcook There’s a sweet spot where most greens have a perfectly palatable texture (past rubbery-undercooked and before mushy-overcooked). Get in the habit of tasting greens as you cook them to learn what their optimal texture is.
Pair with sweet, tangy, spicy, and salty flavors Most greens have a mild mineral quality that smooths out with the addition of a little sweetness and acidity. Aromatics like ginger, garlic, and shallots also help, as does a salty, meaty kick from a bit of bacon or salami, or a soothing touch of cream.
|Creamy Dandelion Greens and Goat Cheese Gratin|
Photos: Amy Neunsinger