Let’s step away from the convenient pre-washed, packaged spinach for a minute. It’s greens season, and there are bunches and bushels of young spring greens awaiting you at your local farmer’s market.
I’ve been reading through Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side, and she makes an interesting point about modern greens:
“Over the course of ten thousand years of agriculture, our farming ancestors managed to remove the bitterness from most of our greens. Unwittingly, though, when they removed the bitterness, they were also stripping away a host of highly beneficial phytonutrients that happen to have a bitter, astringent, or sour taste. Our mild-to-a-fault iceberg lettuce, for example, has one-fortieth as many bionutrients as bitter dandelion greens. Calcium is bitter as well, so the calcium content of our modern greens is also relatively low.”
Robinson also notes that to tone down bitter flavors, fat can help. One might, for example, add some avocado to a salad with bitter lettuce greens. Another option: *~bacon~*
Bacon + mustard greens nudged with creamy yellow corn grits. Bitter-creamy-toothy-savory goodness. A real spring comfort.
Bacon gets sizzled in a pan (cast-iron or dutch oven preferable). A little onion for a little more bite.
In batches, throw torn mustard greens into the pan. They cook down quite a bit, so d0n’t be afraid to add the entire bunch. Cover with a lid to let the stems braise in their own liquid.
While the bacon braised greens get going, cook the grits. It’s a 1 to 4 grits to liquid ratio. I used water. Boil the water, add the grits, stir. Done in roughly 5 minutes. Finish with freshly grated sharp cheddar and a little pat of butter.
Mustard greens with bacon and onion, nudged and nestled with fluffy yellow grits.
Quick Mustard Greens With Bacon
makes about 3-4 servings
4 slices bacon, diced (I used Brooklyn Cured bacon)
1 bunch mustard greens (from Migliorelli Farms), torn into smallish pieces
1 small onion, chopped
splash of red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring every so often to brown the bacon. Add the onion and cook for another few minutes. *I needed to add a dash of canola oil here because my bacon was very lean.
Add the mustard greens to the pan in batches and saute until just wilted. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes, or until the greens have braised in their own liquid and the stems are slightly softened.
Uncover, add a splash of vinegar (helps reduce the bitterness of the mustard greens) and a pinch or two of salt. Serve nestled next to or on top of some creamy cheddar grits.
makes about 4 servings
4 cups water
1 cup yellow corn grits (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Corn Grits)
2-3 ounces grated cheddar
1 tablespoon butter
- Bring water to a boil. Slowly add in the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, and stir for about 5-6 minutes or until thickened slightly and cooked.
- Once the grits are cooked, add in a pinch of salt, the grated cheddar, and the butter. Stir to incorporate and melt.