Tag Archives: Greens

How to Cook Winter Greens

If you’ve seen the Greenling newsletter this week, you know that we’re  celebrating a great season of greens! Winter is prime time in Texas for kale, spinach, curly mustard, collards, arugula, bok choy, and lots of other leafy vegetables. These nutritional powerhouses are fun to cook with and easy to include in meals, either as main dishes or as sides.

The guide below gives some basic cooking methods for greens, plus suggestions as to which vegetables are best suited for those methods:

Greenling’s Cooking Guide to Greens

Of course, a great way to enjoy greens is on their own, either as a side dish or an entrée.  The chart above can also help you to include greens in some familiar recipes. Simply match the cooking style of your existing recipe to one of the greens you have on hand. For example, if you’re making scrambled eggs, any of the greens in the “sauté” column will make a great addition. Just sauté a 1/2 cup of finely chopped greens in a skillet, then add two eggs and cook them as usual.

Add any greens from the “boil” column to comforting dishes like this chicken noodleor tortilla soup for a painless extra serving of veggies with lunch or dinner. Same goes for the greens in the braised column. During the last 10-20 minutes of cooking, throw in a few cups of chopped beet greens, chard, kale or spinach to your favorite braised bratwursttofu, or chicken recipes, and you’ve got an instant, one-dish meal.

The biggest secret to cooking with greens is to use the freshest ones you can. Fresh greens from a local farm are more nutritious and taste better than greens that have flown across the country before sitting on a grocery store shelf all week.

It’s also important to choose organic greens, since conventionally grown greens like spinach, lettuce and kale carry high levels of pesticide residue, even after washing.  Give your family a green challenge this week and try to include leafy vegetables in as many meals as you can.  Your taste buds– and your local farmers– will thank you!

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”



Spicy Green Beans with Beef

When I was a kid my mom would make a healthy, simple meal with ground beef, green beans, and soy sauce at least once a month.  This dish was one of my favorites from childhood, and I started craving it soon after green beans came into season in Central Texas.

I found four versions of green beans and beef in my kitchen’s recipe box.  Gel’s Green Beans and Beef published by “Angelica” on Allrecipes.com most closely resembles my mom’s version.  It’s very mild and a great fit for kids’ tender palates.  I adapted that recipe to incorporate some spicier flavors, like fresh ginger and red pepper flakes, and a full pound of the wonderful bitter greens that are so readily available in Austin this time of year.  Although I had mizuna in the crisper, almost any combination of dark greens would work well here; the flavor is mellowed by the spicy sauce and beef.

A note about presentation: I enjoy eating this meal with brown rice or soba noodles. However, as you can see from my pictures, the result is overwhelmingly brown.  White rice or raw bean sprouts would make for a prettier presentation if you’re looking to impress.

Spicy Green Beans with Beef (serves 4; 6 if served over rice or noodles)
1 pound ground beef or venison
2-4 cloves garlic, about 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
heaping 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh green beans
1 pound mizuna, spinach, or other greens

Snap ends off green beans. Cut off the tough stalks from greens and slice remaining leaves into 1/2 inch ribbons. (The smaller you chop them, the less present they will be in the final dish.) In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat.  Peel and chop garlic and grate ginger, adding those to the pan as you go.  Break up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks; once meat is browned add soy sauce, honey, water, and red pepper flakes. Bring liquid to a boil and add green beans. Cook for about two minutes, until beans are bright green and starting to become tender.  Add greens to the skillet and stir to combine.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until greens have cooked down and are very tender.  Serve alone or over soba noodles, raw bean sprouts, ramen, or rice.

Spicy Green Beans with Beef

Austin Beer Week: Beer Braised Bratwurst and Greens

It’s Austin Beer Week, and this meal celebrates local produce, charcuterie, and craft beer all in one pot!  In this easy recipe, bratwurst and chopped onions are browned in a skillet, and then slow cooked in a whole bottle of beer for half an hour.  A bunch of dark greens are added in the last 5 minutes of cooking, creating a wholesome, hearty meal with great flavors.

For my version of the dish I paired peppery mizuna from this week’s local box with Independence Brewing Co.’s Sunshine Wheat, but you can use any dark green and beer combination you have on hand.  (The picture above is from another iteration of the recipe, in which I used arugula and Real Ale Oktoberfest. Yum.)  I adapted this one-dish wonder from Anne Dailey’s recipe for Beer Braised Sausage at SustainableTable.com, a terrific slow food resource for home cooks.

Beer Braised Bratwurst and Greens (serves 4)
1 tablespoon butter
4 links of any flavor bratwurst
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 bottle locally brewed beer
1 pound dark greens, such as mizuna, mustard, spinach, arugula, or a mix of these
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Slice onions.  In a large skillet, saute onions in butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and chop garlic.  Add garlic and whole brats to the pan and brown sausage on all sides.

Pour in entire bottle of beer, turn heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes until beer has thickened some and sausages are cooked through.  While sausage is cooking, chop greens.  Cook greens with sausage and onions for the last 5 minutes on the stove, until they’re just wilted. Season with fresh ground pepper.

The greens in this dish taste best the same day they’re cooked.  However, the braised sausage and onions keep well and make excellent pizza toppings later in the week.  I really like to pair them with shaved sweet potatoes or winter squash and goat cheese on homemade pizza dough.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Portobello Parmesan Pasta

Last night I was craving fettuccine alfredo from the popular restaurant I’ll call “Schmalloff Garten.” I don’t eat at restaurants like that any more because of their impact on local economies and the environment, but I still crave junk food sometimes!

I wanted to make a version of the dish that would be easier on my waistline, and that would utilize some of the wonderful, local produce hanging out in my fridge. To lighten up the fat and calorie content, I skipped the heavy cream found in traditional alfredo sauces and used skim milk instead, with a little cornstarch as a thickening agent. I used full fat butter and heart-healthy olive oil in this recipe, and I added mushrooms and dark greens to increase the calcium, fiber, and vitamin content of the dish.  As a bonus, the sauce for this dish is gluten free, so all my celiac friends can enjoy this with GF pasta!

I used portobello mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, penne from Austin Pasta Company, and mixed greens from My Father’s Farm in this recipe, but any variety of mushrooms, dark greens and pasta would work with a similar result.

Portobello Parmesan Pasta (makes 6, 1-cup servings)
1 lb. pasta*, use gluten free if you wish
1 lb. dark greens, like kale, beet greens, spinach, whatever!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped portobello mushroom pieces, about 2 large caps’ worth**
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cup skim milk, plus 1/4 cup milk to make slurry
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Chop greens and set aside. Boil water for pasta and prepare as usual, adding greens to the pot one minute before pasta is finished cooking.  Drain pasta and greens together.  For sauce, melt butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop mushrooms and garlic and add to pan.  Saute until tender.  Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons constarch and 1/4 cup milk;  pour into pan, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes until the mixture is thick and gooey.  Slowly pour in an additional 1 1/4 cups milk, stirring constantly.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove pan from heat and add cheese, stirring constantly until all cheese is incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour finished sauce over hot pasta and greens; stir gently to combine.  Garnish with cracked pepper and a little more parmesan cheese.

*If you’re making this dish for company, it’s worth taking time to remove the dark brown gills from the mushroom caps.  They taste fine, but they’ll turn your cream sauce a gray color as they cook.

**If you want a more authentic Schmalloff Garten white-colored dish, you should use fettucine pasta made with refined wheat flour.  Pictured is a delicious pumpkin penne from Austin Pasta Company. It was yummy, but resulted in a more yellow appearance than what I was originally going for.

Finally, here’s the nutrition information for my recipe, calculated on About.com’s very useful recipe calorie counter. The serving size here is 1 cup of the finished recipe.

If you’re interested, here is the nutrition information for a dinner portion of Schmalloff Garten’s fettuccine alfredo, as published on their website:

The restaurant only discloses those 5 categories of info, so there’s no telling how large the serving size actually is, and what specific ingredients are in the dish. The percentage of daily values were calculated by me according to the standard FDA values. (Please don’t sue me for doing math, Schmalloff Garten!!)