It’s Time to Choose your Greens!
Leafy winter greens, readily available this month at Orinda’s Farmers’ Market, are full of flavor, nutrition and versatility. They thrive in the cool weather growing conditions of January but are available year-round.
The robust flavors of kale and collard greens spice up winter soups and stews and blend well with rice, potatoes, pasta or beans. To tone down any bitterness, simply blanch the trimmed leaves in boiling water for a few minutes. No worries if kale has been touched by frost – it’s actually a benefit since it helps to tenderize and mellow the flavor of the leaves.
Mustard greens are the pungent-flavored, curly leaves of the mustard plant. If you’re looking for a more subdued “bite,” try Oriental or Chinese mustard greens.
I only knew dandelions as a bright green weed in the backyard grass. Those dandelion leaves were very bitter, but cultivation practices have produced larger, thicker leaves with a less assertive flavor. Serving with a warm vinaigrette reduces the bitterness and helps to tenderize the leaves. All parts of the dandelion plant are edible. The flower buds may be marinated, flowers may be used to make wine and roots can be roasted and ground to make root “coffee.”
Turnips and beets are my favorites. They do double duty by producing both root vegetables and edible leaves. Turnip cooks up nicely with potatoes, and beet tops add color and flavor to pasta dishes.
Swiss chard is also a type of beet with lush leaves and no fleshy root.
Pick up a bunch of fresh kale at the market and try this simple delicious soup: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium pot. Add and sauté ½ cup chopped onion and ½ cup chopped celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth and 1 cup canned chopped tomato. Heat to boiling and add about 3 cups chopped kale. Cook until the kale wilts, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup canned white beans (drained and rinsed) and heat another 4 to 5 minutes. Hardy and delicious! Enjoy with your favorite friend! Serves 2.
The Orinda Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday (closed New Years Day) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. For more information, visit www.cccfm.org,
facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.431.8361.
Barbara Kobsar can be reached at Barbara@cotkitchen.com.