The greens that will continue to grow in the fall and winter have good news and more challenging cooking preparation. The good news is that they are hardy and frost tolerant so they will continue to be a vibrant part of your garden. The more challenging news is the leaves are larger and thicker than salad greens or spinach, making them a “cooking green” that does need some preparation to be soft and delicious. But, the good news is that cooking them is easy. They can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch or dinner, or maybe all of them.
The heartier greens include kale, swiss chard, collard greens and some of the Asian greens like pak choi. Kale and Swiss Chard can grow up to 2′ tall so they will need to be divided (leaf from stem) and chopped them into long ribbons for most dishes. Wash the leaves and shake dry. Leave a little water for the wilting process during cooking.
REMOVE STEM: The stem is a different texture and requires different cooking times than the leaves. Hold the stem in your left hand with the leaf folding naturally down. With your right hand, grab the sides of the leaf with index finger and thumb and pull it back against the stem. With a little practice, this becomes a fast process to remove stems quickly. Chop the stem and cook with the onion, garlic or other vegetable portion of your dish.
COOK THE LEAVES: The leaves will take a quick cooking process at the top of your vegetable or meat dish. Make them long ribbons to promote them blending into your meal. One idea is to roll them into tube and then cut fine slices, also called chiffonade. Add the greens at the end of the cooking process. One tip is to throw a handful of water on the greens and cover almost all of the way to steam the greens as they cook quickly. Add a little kosher salt to the top for flavor.
Cook greens with creamy items, like eggs for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch and in an Indian vegetable stir-fry for dinner. Here is an easy preparation for a side dish. Heat the pan to a medium high heat and add a little almond oil or toasted sesame oil. Add onions and garlic or saute the greens quickly. Either add salt or tamari before serving. Enjoy!