Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Get Into Greens

I've decided to get into greens. Frequent readers of this blog may have noticed a slight bias towards desserts. But I do eat well-rounded fully balanced meals. Even though there's a pan of shortbread cooling in the kitchen right now. Mmm...
I was wandering around the supermarket last weekend, trying to stick to my shopping list. (My shopping list has sensible things on it like pears, salmon, eggs, cereal. And somehow I come home with logs of goat cheese, bottles of tahini, tins of crab meat, and dijon mustard. Canned tomatoes are a good pantry staple, but I also bought canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce just in case. And I ended up with an entire bag of frozen mixed berries in the freezer, as if I were preparing for a fruit pie binge in the middle of the tundra.) Typically I pick up some spinach every couple of weeks, but I had just spent the last two weeks going through a giant bag of it so I was sick of spinach. I was ready to skip right past the greens to the zucchini when I noticed something. There are many leafy green vegetables other than spinach.
I've been something of a spinach junkie for a while now. There is no shortage of spinach recipes. Easiest side dish in the world? Sauteed spinach in olive oil. Best vegetable soup? Cream of spinach. Spinach and strawberry salad. Spinach pesto. Spinach pizza. But I'm feeling like such a hypocrite because I espouse the virtues of variety in food everywhere else, yet with my vegetables there is safety in cucumbers.
I do like many vegetables but I tend to buy the same ones: spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, or brussel sprouts. Occasionally a red or green pepper, and lettuce and cucumbers for salad. If I'm trying to feed a vegetarian I might purchase a parsnip or rutabega, but never shall an eggplant enter my abode. But looking around at the abundance of greens, I decided I would do it. I would buy kale. I mean, it looks gorgeous. Almost too good to eat.

I quickly discovered that kale is as easy to saute as spinach but takes a little longer to wilt thick leaves that look more like a garnish than a side dish. Add a little water to the pan and cover it to braise them, or dunk them in boiling water long enough to boil (not blanch) them. Squeeze a little lemon on top. Any way you do it, you end up with a green that has more body and substance than spinach. In other words, it doesn't end up shrinking to nearly nothing the way spinach does, and a big bunch of it goes a lot further.
I can never give up my first love, spinach, but kale is a worthy adversary. Next up: collard greens. But don't worry, dessert girl will be back before long...

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