I feel like greens are always in season. Undoubtedly they’re best in the early spring and fall, while they’re young, tender, and holding the mildest flavor they’ll ever carry. But the greens in my garden continue to thrive from spring all the way through the early weeks of winter. That’s one heck of a season! It also means a lot of greens are going into my body, as they should be in yours too because they’re one of the most nutrient rich foods around.
I won’t get into the details of all the vitamins that various varieties of greens encompass (because there’s a lot). We all know veggies are healthy, but greens repeatedly win the gold medals of the talent show taking place among the veggie kingdom. That’s all you really need to know. As Michael Pollan would say, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Plants as in tons of fresh, whole veggies like greens(!) not french fries.)
While greens are easily allstars, here comes the challenge: Giving them the VIG (Very Important Grub) status they deserve in your diet. Eating greens nearly year around can get boring, as what would happen with practically every food item eaten frequently, well, except peanut butter.
There are two key concepts that I’ve found when it comes to ensuring that greens stay VIG’s all year around. One is to wash up the leaves right up when you get the home from the store or harvest them from the garden. That way you can’t use laziness as an excuse not to eat the leafy veggies when lunch or dinner (or even breakfast) rolls around. Next comes the cooking creativity part of the equation. To keep the greens continuously desirable, you’ve got to continuously find new ways to put them to use. I grew up eating TONS of freshly steamed kale with a little oil and vinegar drizzled on top. So at this stage in my life, I crave something a little different than the plain old steam. But that doesn’t mean I stray away from simplicity. Keeping greens consistently in my diet certainly doesn’t include daily complex recipes that I don’t have the time or energy for.
Instead, it includes recipes like the one below. Simple sautes are perfect, allowing you to swap out ingredients you have on hand as you please. For this one, I used a little left over red wine I had hanging around, along with a sweet kick of raisins and full-flavored handful of toasted pine nuts to complete the dish. It’s a dish I continue to return to, even as I look for new ways to freshen up my green repertoire to keep them top VIG’s in my diet.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. collard greens, stems removed, chopped
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1/3 cup wine
- 2 Tbsp. raisins
- 1/2 large lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat skillet. Add pine nuts, and cook until browned, stirring frequently. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high. Saute onions until translucent. Add collards, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine and raisins. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook another 3-5 minutes, or until greens are tender. Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice over top, and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.