Have You Been Eating Your Greens?
We are huge fans of greens in our house. They grow so well for us that we can not help but grow large amounts of them. In addition to growing the standards like collards, kale and spinach, we harvest the greens off of several vegetables such as beets, turnips and radishes and eat them as well. Can’t help it: we love our greens!
It seems that the most popular leafy green is currently kale. It (along with its dark, leafy green cousins) is one of the most healthy foods in the world. Dark, leafy greens are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K and minerals; and are a great source of fiber. And they’re delicious!
How to Use Kale
Okay, so you know that it’s healthy, but how do you use it? Believe it or not, many mesclun or baby salad green mixes typically have kale in the mix. As the foliage matures, it tend to get tougher and a bit bitter. The bitterness is how most people associate greens.
You can eat it raw. I use chopped kale in my salads and in green smoothies. It does have bite to it. If you are new to kale or greens in general, I recommend eating them as baby greens (raw) or braising them.
I grew up eating greens cooked the traditional, Southern way: boiled with a ham hock. My father would boil his collards for hours. He said that was the only way to get the bitterness out. I’m not going to lie; his greens were tasty. However, I am sure any nutritional value it had was non-existent by the time it hit my plate.
Many recipes suggest that you blanch kale or any green first, before you finish cooking them in the final dish. I never blanch my greens. I find that if you braise them or add a dash of sugar once they are cooked down, it will eliminate the bitterness. Also, sauteing them in a flavorful fat doesn’t hurt.
Give Them a Try!
If you have been wanting to join the kale bandwagon, but are not ready to eat them raw in a salad or smoothie, my penne with kale and sausage is the perfect recipe to get you started. I use this same recipe with various bitter greens: broccoli rabe, collards or turnip greens. The method is exactly the same, except I swap the greens for whatever I currently have growing in the garden. Grab a bundle of kale, it’s what’s for dinner tonight!
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic,minced
- 1 lb Italian sausage (spicy or sweet),crumbled
- 1 lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 lb dried penne pasta
- 1 Tb Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tsp of sugar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmeasan,plus additional for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30-45 seconds (do not brown).
- Add the Italian sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile bring a pot a water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
- While pasta cooks, add kale to sausage in skillet and sauté until just tender, about 7-10 minutes. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet.
- Once the pasta is cooked,reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
- Add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined.Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if needed.
- Serve immediately, with additional cheese.