Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wilted Greens

One afternoon, I found myself needing corn, so I stopped at the side of the road to buy some from a nice young man selling it out of a truck. The nice young man had an "aw, shucks" demeanor, and was so polite. (I feel like I'm about 80 right now...) He asked me if I liked greens, and I said yes. He said he had some kale and chard that he had picked out of his garden that morning. He brought out a plastic kitchen bowl full of his home-picked greens. I totally fell for his country boy charm and found myself with not only a dozen ears of sweet corn but a large bag full of greens as well.

Since greens have a short shelf life, and we were away from home when I bought them, I had a very short window of time to decide how I was going to cook them. Since I hadn't time to run to the store, I decided that I would make it easy and use things I already had in the house. And since I've got a kid and a husband not 100% sold on the idea of greens, I wanted to make them appealing as possible.


The first thing I did was wash the greens thoroughly. They looked pretty clean, but since they grow so close to the ground, you never know. I stuck them in a colander and let the water run over them, but you could fill your sink with water and wash them that way too.

Then I separated the leafy greens from the tough stems.

You know, you could use any greens you wanted. Collared, mustard, spinach, or even lettuce.

Cleaning the greens takes a little time. So I doubled my efficiency by grabbing some bacon.

The bacon got a rough chop and got tossed into a large-ish pan to render out the fat.

Medium heat is fine--you don't want it to get really crisp.

I diced up an onion, too. And I smashed quite a few garlic cloves.

While the bacon rendered its delicious fat, I rolled the greens into a cigar shape and cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces. You should have a rather large mound of chopped greens when you're done.

When the bacon was just beginning to get some color, I tossed in the onions and garlic. They got to saute for just a couple minutes, to soften.

Then you can add your greens. You might have to add them in several additions, depending on how large your pan is. This is half the greens.

They wilt down quite a bit.

Saute the greens for about 5 minutes; just to get them wilted thoroughly. If your pan looks dry, you might want to add a little water or chicken broth. I didn't drain the greens before adding them, and that was a sufficient amount of liquid.

If your greens look older or have a bitter flavor, you'll also want to add a little liquid; the extra liquid will help leech out the bitterness.

Right near the end of your cooking time, add a splash of vinegar. I used red wine.

Nothing like a flavorful way to get your vitamin C for the day! And it's so easy to use the leftovers. I made pasta the next day and added a few large spoonfuls to the sauce. You could also add leftover greens to quiche, eggs, rice, salads, or even meatloaf or burgers. Support your local farm boys and buy their garden greens!

Recipe: Wilted Greens

1 large bag greens, any kind
3 slices bacon
1/2 onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Clean the greens by soaking them or rinsing very, very well. Remove tough stalk. Roll leaves into a cigar shape and slice.

In a large pan, cook bacon until fat renders but bacon is still pale. Add onion and garlic; saute until softened.

Add greens; saute about 5 minutes until wilted. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Add red wine vinegar; cook an additional minute or two. Serve immediately.

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