When I was learning how to cook (about ten years after I should have learned how to cook) the only thing I ever did with greens was to sauté them with a bit of garlic. A few years ago leafy greens, and their health benefits, began turning up every where, and now there is a big, glorious book devoted to the subject.
Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas begins with an Introduction to Leafy Greens. Here you will find each green listed alphabetically, with a description, the best preparation technique, and all the recipes in the book that use that particular green. The section is extensive and includes a variety I had never herd of, Tatsoi.
Chapter 1- Basic Preparations for Leafy Greens walks you through simple sautés, braises, and stir-fries, with side bars that include grilling and blanching. At this point in the book I have learned so much and can not believe I am only a third of the way through. The chapters that follow are all about the recipes. Chapter 2 - Greens with Beans, Grains, Pasta & Other Vegetables. Chapter 3 - Salads, Dressings & Dips. Chapter 4 - Greens in Soups & Stews. Chapter 5 - Green Juices & Smoothies.
The book is printed on thick, nicely textured papers with pleasing colors and sweet line drawings of various green leafys. There are just a few photos in the center of the book and I find the overall presentation charming.
The first recipe I tried was fantastic and eaten so quickly I neglected to snap a photo. The smell had people standing in the kitchen asking about dinner. Everyone in the house declared it a keeper.
Garlicky Potatoes with Greens & Olives
Lots of garlic and briny olives add spark to the harmonious pairing of potatoes and dark leafy greens.
6 to 7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
10 to 12 ounces chard or kale (any variety of either), or collard greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pitted brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried basil or tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Microwave the potatoes until just barely tender, starting with 1 minute per potato and adding a small amount of additional time as needed. Or prebake the potatoes, if the oven is already on. Plunge the potatoes into cold water. When they're cool enough to handle, cut them into think slices.
If you are using chard, cut the leaves away from the stems and chop them coarsely or cut them into ribbons, if you plan to use the stems from the chard, trim an inch or so away from the bottoms, then thinly slice the stem. If you are using kale or collard greens, strip the leaves form the stems and cut them into narrow ribbons or small bite sized pieces.
Heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the garlic and sauté it over low heat for a minute or so, just until is loses its raw quality.
Add the potatoes and greens. Add about 1/4 cup water, turn the heat up to medium high and cook the mixture for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the potatoes are touched with light brown here and there, and the greens are tender but still nice and green. It's fine if the potatoes break apart.
Remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the olives, and add lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with the basil or tarragon, and season with salt (you won't need much) and pepper. Serve at once.
This recipe works nicely with mustard greens and escarole as well. Chop them coarsely or cut them into ribbons. Add the greens 2 or 3 minutes after you add the potatoes, since you don't want them to cook too long.
Reprinted with permission from Wild About Greens © 2012 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photographs by Susan Voisin.
The dish was GOOD! I do not like the texture of microwaved potatoes, so I boiled the potatoes whole, cooled, and then sliced.
I look forward to making many of the recipes in this book, but the mot immediate thing that has happened since the first reading is that I am putting greens in all of my usual dishes. Whether it is soup or quinoa salad, I snip a few leaves from the garden, prepare using basic techniques, and add towards the end of cooking. Not only would it not have occurred to me to do this before, but now that I have basic preparation techniques for all the greens it makes it easy to improvise.
Thank you Nava Atlas for greening up my kitchen.