18 June 2014

Goodly Greens

It's during this season that big bushels of greens and herbs seem to appear and multiply like water turned to wine. Open the fridge. You may find something there already. 

The other night, at the very end of a long day away from home, after the drive back through quiet farmland, highways and finally into our little borough nestled between the vortex of  highways and the edge of the Hudson river, I still found myself standing in the kitchen over the sink taking care of some business.

One voice told me to sit, stream a TV show, drink tea, the other told me to attend, attend. Perhaps the thoughts of cherishing and holding on to what you have, were still fresh on my mind from the events of the day, for my thoughts were abuzz.

After the drive, my boyfriend's brother's girlfriend gave me a twist-tied bunch of organic spinach she didn't think she'd use in time of its life, completely intact but covered with a little dirt. I gave them a once-over and took them home. They just needed a "treatment." It's greens season in my kitchen and that means a little more grunt work for a lot of payoff.

When I started buying more ingredients in their bulk state, I learned immediately: give whole bunches of farm greens from big heads of lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, beets, the proper TLC, wash, dry and store them right and you will have greens at the ready, for up to two weeks for probably a third of the price you could spend on boxed salad mixes that need to be consumed in just a few days. The yield from one head or bunch never ceases to amaze. I always think: that was $1.99?

And beet greens are free. 

I washed and stored those spinach leaves and the next few meals were complete. And then I sat and drank some tea.Fear not the big bunch of greens; tame them. Then toss some salads, sauté into egg scrambles, mix with beans and fish, and make a greens tart.

Here's your greens primer. Before you start, you'll need to gather a few things:

A salad spinner. (If you don't have one, watch this. But it's a good investment.)
Paper towels
Large Zip Lock bags
Several minutes, depending on how much greenery you have, preferably right after buying your produce...

1. Remove all rubber bands and twist ties. 
2. Chop off rough stem ends while you...
3. Fill the big clear basin of your spinner with water in the sink. 
4. Chop or tear the greens from their rough stems and douse them in the basin water, work in batches.
5. Swish them around and let them sit a minute or two. 
6. Lift them out and place into the colander part of the spinner.
7. If there was a lot of dirt, repeat the bath. If not...
8. Pour out the water, rinse the basin of any straggler dirt, place colander inside and spin spin spin.
9. Set out long paper towels on a table. Place your greens in handfuls spread out on the towels.
10. Air dry a few minutes. Then roll up into paper towel burrito (see right side of above photo) and stick those into the zip locks and store for a week or two in the fridge.

Note: You can rinse some of those stems and keep them in the freezer to boil for vegetable broth needs in the future.

Pictured: Heidi's greens tart in a cornmeal crust. Made it twice in a week using beet greens I'd stored in the above method. One regular 8-inch tart (below) last week and one mini with leftover dough I froze, as a side this week with Deborah Madison's lentils, also via Heidi which are hanging out in my fridge to eat for the next few days. Did I mention I love Heidi? 

The tart-shell is a good one, buttery with extra depth from cornmeal and a little whole wheat pastry flour. Have a great week everyone. MN

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