Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Greens with Envy

As I’ve mentioned before, I started out my summer with very little knowledge of greens. Had you asked me to name you some greens I probably would have looked at you cross-eyed and said “um, lettuce?” Sure, lettuce is green, but the category goes far beyond that. Thanks to my farm share me and greens are becoming very well acquainted. So are me and my wok.

"So what ARE greens?" you ask. They are big leafy green plants that taste delicious! Lucky for me, the farm that I chose to do my farm share with here in Massachusetts is well-versed in growing greens and I get plenty of them each week in my share.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been cooking with. Wikipedia definitions to the rescue:

Chard: Also known by the common names Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, Spinach Beet, Crab Beet, Seakale Beet and Mangold, is a leafy vegetable, and is one of the cultivated descendants of the sea beet. Although the leaves are eaten, it is in the same species as beetroot (garden beet) which is usually grown primarily for its edible roots.

Kale or borecole is a form of cabbage, green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.

Collard greens are various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea, the same species that produces cabbage and broccoli. The plant is grown for its large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the Southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain and in Kashmir.

Callaloo: Jamaican callaloo is a Jamaican vegetable that resembles spinach. Though it tastes almost like spinach it is not as sour. Jamaican callaloo is though to have its origin in South America however it has been recorded as being in Jamaica from as early as 1752. (From

Bok Choy is a Chinese leaf vegetable used often in Chinese cuisine. These vegetables are both related to the Western cabbage, and are of the same species as the common turnip.

I like greens for their simplicity and ease of cooking. I’ve cooked up a few different kinds of greens so far and in different ways. I’m finding the best way to start of cooking them is to sauté them in a wok with oil and garlic for a few minutes until they have cooked down (look sort of soft and wilted and not so much like lettuce anymore) and then I add other stuff to the wok.

Lately I’ve tended not to work directly from a recipe when cooking greens, which makes the whole experience a bit of an adventure. Lucky for me, everything has turned out well so far! Things I will throw into the mix include potatoes, onions, tomatoes, spices, turnips, and all sorts of odds and ends that I’m left with from my farm share when the week comes to an end. You can also sautéed everything up and serve as is or add broth and turn the whole thing into soup or sprinkle with cheese and bake in the oven for a bit to make a casserole. Really, the possibilities are endless. Not to mention, if you want to stick to real recipes there are LOADS of great recipes for greens available online which you can always tweak yourself as you see fit.

Some of my favorite creations so far have included:
  • An assortment of greens (beet greens and chard) sautéed with turnips (see fourth picture)
  • A kale, sausage, and potato casserole (see first picture & fifth picture)

Greens on their own (or with a few other veggies and spices added) make a great accompaniment to a meat dish or they go very well with some rice or pasta. Tomorrow I’m going to be making Jamaican style callaloo (see recipe below) and will be serving it with some baked chicken drumsticks and steamed rice.


PS: If you have any greens recipes you would like to share post a comment below!!

Jamaican Style Sautéed Callaloo (recipe compliments of Enterprise Farm newsletter)

Ingredients --
  • 1 bunch callaloo 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (to taste) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme salt and pepper
  • 1 large tomato, diced
Directions --
  • Cut the bottom 1/2—1 inch off the bottom of the callaloo stems. 
  • Peel the remaining stems (as you would with broccoli). 
  • Slice everything into small ribbons, wash well and spin dry in a salad spinner. 
  • In a large skillet (or wok) heat oil. 
  • Add onion and garlic, sautee for 3-4 minutes, until onions are slightly translucent. 
  • Add callaloo, season with cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and thyme. 
  • Allow to wilt. 
  • Add tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes.

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