Fresh from the garden and rich in flavor, this family of veggies offers delicious taste, valuable nutrients and fast cooking time. Today's markets offer an assortment of tender young salad greens and several varieties of firmer, meatier greens, ideal for cooking. Growing almost as weeds, they have been used for millennia by various cultures and have been rediscovered by today's great chefs and health-oriented cooks. This class offers you the fastest and most basic way to integrate greens into your diet. You'll want to try using greens in soups, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and as wrappers (like dolmades).
We'll begin today's class with mesclun, a salad of assorted, wild greens with a dijon vinaigrette. Four different cooked greens are then prepared in their common international style. Swiss chard sauteed with olive oil and garlic, doused with balsamic vinegar is a common dish throughout Italy. Spinach with toasted cashews and garam masala is a variation of a classic Indian preparation. Throughout the orient, fresh greens abound: we'll have bok choy stir-fried with shitake mushrooms and red peppers. Finally, a lower fat version of the classic Southern U.S. dish: mustard greens, this time with a lemon-yogurt sauce.
When using greens, always remember to wash them well. Rinsing them under running water is the best way to thoroughly remove any dirt or insects that may be left on the leaves. By then putting them in the basket of a salad spinner, you can let a little water drain off, retaining what is left clinging to the leaves for steaming the greens. Most essential is that you buy the freshest available. Each leaf should be tender and crisp, not wilted or brown.
Whether fresh, stir-fried, steamed, sauteed or used as a wrapper, fresh greens should grow to constitute a large part of our diet. We all know green veggies are supposed to be nutritious (remember Popeye with his can of spinach)? Well, he was right! These dark green leafy vegetables are amongst the most nutritious. They're rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C are prevalent as well. Greens contain a few grams of fiber per serving, too. Once you discover their velvety texture and meaty flavor, you'll naturally include them frequently in your ever-improving diet!
Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms, Red Pepper and Broccoli
(serves 2 in 20 minutes)
One key to delicious stir-fry is to have all the ingredients cleaned, chopped and set out in bowls, ready to add at just the right time. Harder veggies, such as onion and broccoli need to cook longer than the more tender ones, such as the greens and mushrooms. Another important aspect to stir-fry is assembling the right colors, flavors and textures. This combination really works and is perfect for a fast dinner at the end of a hard day at the office.
Reheat rice while you stir-fry and you'll be eating dinner within 30 minutes!
1/2 red onion, diced (~1 cup)
2 cups broccoli flowerettes, cleaned
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 bunch of bok choy, rinsed and sliced
1 cup shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoon canola, peanut or sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari, mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons of toasted cashews
1) Prepare the ingredients: Rinse the bok choy well and chop off the bottom 2 inches of the stalk and discard it. Slice the stems on the diagonal about 1/2 inch wide and set aside in a bowl. Slice the leaves an inch wide and set aside. Chop the onion and slice the red pepper and set aside together. Clean the broccoli, break into flowerettes and put it with the onions and pepper.
With a damp cloth, clean any dirt off of the shitake mushrooms, cut into big bite-sized slices and put with the bok choy leaves. Mince the ginger and garlic. Measure out the tamari and water into a small cup.
2) In large wok, heat the oil over medium-high to high heat and drop in a piece of ginger. When it sizzles, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
3) Add the onion, red pepper and broccoli, tossing every few seconds for 3 minutes.
4) Add the mushrooms and continue stir-frying for another minute.
5) Add the bok choy stems and stir-fry for about a minute, followed by the bok choy leaves. Add the tamari/water mixture and toss until the veggies are done, about 3-5 more minutes.
6) Garnish the stir-fry with the toasted cashews and serve with basmati rice and gamasio, the delicious toasted sesame salt.