I’m lucky in my living situation, in that my roommates have similarly wonky tendencies to my own, most especially the tendency to cook up a storm in the morning at the same time as making and eating breakfast, in order to have food ready to go later on.  It’s not a bad approach, all things considered, and can have the added benefit (if one feels like it’s a benefit) of making the house smell like Thanksgiving…at 7 am.  For my own part, I do this most often when I’m wishing I had leftovers to bring to the office for lunch, but I don’t have any and I’m certainly not willing to spend an exorbitant sum of $8 or more to get a fancy sandwich from a café.  The thinking goes like this: “Oh gosh.  What am I going to bring for lunch today?  I suppose I could have bread and cheese again. But what am I going to do for a vegetable?  (yes, I think lunch should contain vegetables)  Ooh, I have some beets!  And some chard!  What an abundance of goodness!  I know, I’ll sautee the greens while I fry myself an egg and roast the beets in slices while I eat, then I can toss them together with herbs into a Tupperware and have them for lunch.  Brilliant!”

This particular morning, fabulous smells of frying onion wafted under my nose while I was washing my face.  I padded out of the bathroom and into the kitchen to see what my roommate, Andi, was up to.  She was monitoring a large frying pan of the most gorgeous, Technicolor, rainbow Swiss chard  I have, perhaps, ever seen.  And I’ve seen a lot of chard in my day!  When she tossed in a handful of golden raisins, I couldn’t take it any more.  “Andi!”  I cried out, “can you hold on a second and let me take a photo of what you’re cooking?  It’s too beautiful not to!”  Before she had really had the chance to answer I had grabbed my camera and started in on a full-blown photo shoot, starring the chard.  Unfortunately, photography is not one of my gifts.  But, hey, I’m trying.  And more importantly, it got me thinking about another method of dealing with your random greens, and other barely identifiable vegetables (or fully identifiable vegetables, come to think of it).  Think salad!

I love salad, and am fully in support of the growing popularity of lovely green salads with all sorts of fun veggies and goodies mixed in and tossed with a nice vinaigrette.  You can take the same approach with cooking greens with lovely results.  Why not?  I’m not 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure that it is not carved in stone anywhere, “thou shalt not eat thy salad cooked.”  Once you sautee your greens with garlic and/or onions (similar to method 1), toss in some dried or fresh fruits and nuts, or some olives and bleu/feta cheese crumbles, or roasted beets and bacon bits, or whatever combination suits your fancy.  Then toss it with a little salad dressing and serve it on top of brown rice or roasted potato chunks.

Here are some more specific instructions:  Slice up an onion, (and mince a clove or two of garlic, if desired).  Separately, rinse off and coarsely chop up your pile of greens, discarding the very bottoms of the stems, but keeping the rest.  Heat a Tablespoon or two of olive oil or butter in a large frying pan and then add the onion and sautee it at medium heat for a few minutes until it becomes soft.  Then add the greens and sautee, stirring, several more minutes until they’re completely wilted.  Season with a sprinkling of salt.  Then stir in a handful of dried fruit, such as raisins (chopped if it’s a fruit that comes in bigger chunks), and another handful of chopped, toasted nuts, such as pecans or almonds.  (To toast the nuts, just spread them on a baking pan and stick them in the oven at 350?F for around 10 minutes – they’ll turn darker, and you’ll smell that they become very fragrant when they’re done.  Then you have to snatch them out before they start to burn).  Then toss the whole kit and kaboodle with a couple of Tablsepoons of vinaigrette and serve.

Here are a couple of nice, simple vinaigrettes.  Both of these recipes will make more than you probably want to use for cooked greens – unless you’re a salad dressing fiend!

Endlessly Useful Balsamic Vinaigrette:

3 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. mustard (preferable not the fluorescent yellow kind, but I won’t judge if that’s what you have), 1 tsp. of maple syrup or honey – or sugar if you absolutely don’t have either of those, a tsp. of mild tomato salsa (optional, but I swear it’s good) a pinch of salt and pepper.  Combine all of the ingredients and blend together with a whisk or fork.

Lemony dressing:

3 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 tsp. mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper, a sprinkling of thyme, dill, or oregano if desired.  Whisk everything together!

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