It is a fact that I love greens. I love spinach and kale and collard greens and mustard greens and…well, most things that are leafy and green.
It is also a fact that I don’t eat as many as I would like. Why? Because Mr. Twistie isn’t wild about them, and most of the time I’m feeding him as well as me. He often finds them bitter and unpleasant. Sigh.
Because of these two facts, I went looking for a recipe that would let me have my green and leafies while pleasing Mr. Twistie’s palate. I found just the thing in my copy of The Savory Way by Deborah Madison. It’s a fantastic vegetarian cookbook that I pull out both when I’m feeding someone who doesn’t eat meat, when I feel like having a good meal sans meat, or when I’m looking for the perfect side dish to go with a great piece of meat. I was going to link to the book on Amazon, but at present it would appear to be more or less a collector’s item over there. The cheapest copy I found was something like seventy-eight bucks for the hardcover. The paperback started well over two hundred smackers. I suggest going to your local second-hand bookstore and seeing if you can find a previously loved copy.
Anyway. The dish is pretty easy (and easier if – unlike me – you get your chopping and dicing out of the way before you start cooking rather than after), requires no specialized equipment, cooks pretty rapidly, and is surprisingly fabulous. It’s also flexible. If you go to the store or your farmer’s market and there are no collard greens or the broccoli rabe is looking limp, just pick up some mustard greens or Swiss chard and have at it. Follow the cut for the recipe.
Winter Greens and Potatoes or Vegetable hash
1 pound mixed greens (mix and match from things like: kale, collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, spinach, turnip greens, dandelion greens, escarole, etc. Have fun finding your favorite combinations. I used spinach, kale, and broccoli rabe, which tasted yummy)
2 medium sized potatoes. scrubbed, quartered, and thinly sliced (I used three, but they were smaller red potatoes)
2Tblsp virgin olive oil
1 or 2 small dried red chilies, seeds removed, torn into pieces or 1/4tsp red pepper flakes
2 medium sized fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped (again, I used three but my grocery store actually had some pretty decent looking Romas, while the other fresh(ish) tomatoes looked and smelled…not so good and the canned were actually more expensive)
2 garlic cloves (I used three large. Mr. Twistie and I shared garlic fondue on our first date. We are big into garlic)
freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated or sliced hard cheese such as Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano (I used Asiago, because Mr. Twistie is hugely fond of Asiago. I love it, too, but he’s nuts about it.)
extra virgin olive oil, to finish the dish (I actually forgot this step entirely, but I’ll probably give it a go next time)
Bring several quarts of water to a boil. While it’s heating, sort through the greens and remove any leaves that are yellow or tired looking. If the greens have tough fibrous stems, discard them. Chop the leaves, rinse them well, and set them aside.
When the water boils, add salt to taste and the potatoes. Cook until they are tender, 5 – 7 minutes, then remove them with a strainer. Add the greens and cook them until they are done. Cook the tougher greens (mustard, turnip, collards, and kale first). They will take longer than spinach or chard. Check for doneness by tasting, then remove when they are cooked.
Warm the olive oil in a wide pan and add the chilies. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, stir to coat them well, and cook for a minute or so. Next add the greens, the tomatoes and the garlic. At this point, the dish will be very pretty (she isn’t kidding!) with its distinctly different colors – dark green, red, and white. It would look at home in a good restaurant. But continue cooking the vegetables another 5 minutes or so, breaking up the potatoes with a wooden spoon and working everything together. In the end, everything should be mixed and the colors somewhat muddied, but it is delicious this way (and how!); you can taste everything at once in your mouth instead of several disparate elements (and can I just say I love a woman who uses the word ‘disparate’ in a practical recipe). Taste for salt, add freshly ground pepper, the cheese, and serve with a spoonful of extra-virgin olive oil threaded over the dish.
serves 2 – 4…but I think Mr. Twistie would have happily eaten every bit of it if I hadn’t gotten some first.
Seriously, this was so much better than the sum of its parts I was kind of amazed. And despite what Deborah Madison says about muddy colors, the dish wasn’t that much less brilliant looking at the end of those five minutes, but the garlic was cooked, which is kind of important. Most important of all, Mr. Twistie said he’d love to eat it again, which is just the sort of response I was hoping for. Nothing tasted bitter to him, and I got to have a big pile of leafy greens.
Whether you’re looking for a hearty, comforting veggie main dish, a tasty side to go with a steak or chop, or just a way to get your leafy greens in an extra-palatable way, this is a wonderful choice. Give it a go sometime. You’ll be glad you did!