Winter to Spring: 3+ Greens Recipes and a Bonus Thai Recipe

First recipe post for our home cookbook, yay!  Anyways I have been making winter greens like this all winter and now into spring.  Here in Louisiana, these types of greens can be grown pretty much all winter long, from November to April with a little care if it gets quite cold.  Though we didn’t baby ours, like the broccoli and kale so we lost a few along the way.  However, the mustard greens that we planted from seed back at our rental house seeded themselves last summer and came up again in November/December.  They basically could not care less about the cold and made for a number meals this winter from just a few plants.  We will definitely be planting the seeds from them again once they finish bolting.  As I said though, some of our winter garden didn’t do as well as we would have liked such as cabbage and broccoli.  The ones we planted died in the cold and thanks to Michael’s mom (thanks!) we did have two heads this winter. 

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Lovely head of cabbage that we had previously thought would die. Quite a nice improvement and will be eaten here shortly.

The nice thing with winter greens is that you can really mix up the flavorings you put in them to go with pretty much any main course dish that you want.  Growing up, I remember my dad making greens once like the ladies in the office where he works.  We were a little spooked and weren’t very interested in them as I think he used bacon grease.  Oh how things have changed!  As long as you put some good seasonings on them, they will be tasty.  And no, they aren’t too “green” as we would say, even Michael likes them :). 

Greens, Three Ways

Base:

  • 1 to 2 lb of greens such as collard, mustard, swiss chard, kale cut into strips with ribs either removed or chopped small
  • 1 onion sliced into strips
  • Couple cloves of garlic minced
  • Cooking oil or bacon grease
  • Optional add in: Sliced mushrooms

Italian style:

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Tip: I have found since greens cook down so much, that I always need to use a 12 inch pan for cooking greens with a good lid for steaming. Even with just two people, I find I have to stuff my pan with greens in order to get any leftovers after dinner.

  • Dried lemon peel
  • Lemon juice
  • Red pepper flakes

Southern Style:

  • Couple strips of bacon diced
  • 1 tsp of sugar or so + splash of vinegar if too sweet
  • Optional: cayenne if cajun style

Asian style:

  • Minced fresh ginger or galangal
  • Chili paste, or asian peppers
  • 1 cup of chopped kimchi and its juice
  • Sauce:
    • splash of toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tbs or so of mirin or brown sugar
    • 2 tbs of miso paste or soy sauce (be careful with this, especially if your kimchi is already salty, dial it back and add more if you need)
    • A handful of stalks of green onion chopped
    • Optional: 1 to 2 tbs of fish sauce

Over medium heat, fry your aromatics depending on your style such as the onion, garlic, peppers, ginger, bacon as well as any hard stems that are chopped fine if you are using them (mostly thinking swiss chard stems chopped like celery here) and sliced mushrooms.  After the aromatics are cooked mostly through add your sliced greens plus a little water if they are not very wet for steaming).  Add spices/sugar/lemon zest on top, turn the heat to medium medium high and cover for a few minutes.  After they have wilted but are still green, give the pan a stir and check the seasonings.  For asian greens, prior to cooking, combine the kimchi juice, toasted sesame oil, mirin/brown sugar, miso paste, fish sauce, and green onion to make a sauce that you will add at the end of the cooking. 

Last night I made a Thai inspired version of this recipe that I just made up with inspiration from the Thai dish Pad Ka Prao.  I added in galangal minced (which is a tuber like ginger with a different tang), Thai chilies, keffir lime leaf minced (it has this lovely peppery citrus smell), and some shallots as my aromatics.  With that I added some shredded cabbage that I needed to use up that I got at the farmers market.  To that I added some lovely radish greens that our neighbor gave us.  For some braising liquid, I used a bit of the sauce from the Pad Ka Prao recipe at the end of cooking. 

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Thai inspired radish greens with cabbage.

As a side note, Pad Ka Prao is quickly becoming one of our favorite dishes.  Not only does it use up more ground beef, which we have a lot of since we bought a side of beef last fall, it is extremely flavorful and very quick (and easy!) to make.  I found the recipe here at SheSimmers a Thai home cooking blog.  I have made a few recipes from her blog, all of which turned out great and have really been useful for learning Thai cooking.  Another bonus with this recipe is how great it will clear your sinuses out, since it uses 7 Thai chilies (we found fresh ones at the asian market in New Orleans with galangal and keffir lime leaf) and lots of garlic.  I think 7 to 9 are just the right amount and really have the most amazing flavor, they aren’t just simply heat.  If you aren’t such a fan of spice, it is really easy to dial back the chilies since they are small.  A word of WARNING though, your kitchen and likely house will get a little fumigated with the chilies, garlic, and spices so you will probably do a good bit of coughing, but it will smell delicious. 

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Pad Ka-Prao: From this photo it does not look like much, but trust me, you should definitely make it; it will quickly become one of your go to recipes.

I chose to use ground beef, in her recipe she notes that you can use many types of ground or chopped meat.  I unfortunately don’t have holy basil which I know she says is the most important ingredient.  I did use Thai Basil though (whole dried leaves), which still turned out to be quite tasty.  We will have to grow some soon and try it that way instead.  Also I did not have the sweet soy sauce so I added 1/2 tbs extra of the regular soy sauce with 1/2 tbs of mirin. 

And with that, as my Grandma would say “Mangia Mangia”.

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