Friday, August 30, 2013

Simply Braised Greens

Plate of Greens over Rice with Slices of Turkey
Braised Greens with Rice and Turkey

Recipe by Robin

As readers who follow my Recipe Links by Month posts know, I’ve been trying to come up with a recipe for simple braised greens all summer. Flavoring the greens without overpowering them, while keeping the recipe simple, has been my goal. The secret, I knew, was a zippy braising liquid with a balanced combination of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty flavors. I’d been off on unsatisfying broth-and-lemon and ginger-and-raspberry-vinegar tangents for some time. Then sweet red peppers began ripening at the same time that our CSA provided a bunch of green onions—plus loads of assorted greens. The sweetness of the peppers contrasting with the bitter pungency of green onions is key to this dish—along with a significant amount of garlic.

Sweet Red Peppers with Onions in Wok
Stir Frying Braising Liquid Veggies
Use any type of soft greens in this recipe: spinach, mizuna, baby bok choy. or arugula for example. A combination of greens improves the flavor and texture. Rough chop the mizuna and arugula, otherwise they can be a bit stringy. You can chop and cook heartier greens like kales and collards the same way—just increase the cooking time by a few minutes. Any CSA subscriber who has wondered how to store large bags of greens in their fridge without crushing them can use this method to significantly reduce their volume. My stash went from 20 cups to 6 while creating this easy, nutrition-packed side dish.

Bok choy Being Tossed in Liquid
Tossing Bok Choy with Liquid Till Wilted
The success of this dish relies upon making a good braising liquid first, then adding the greens. Don’t be tempted to throw all of the ingredients into the pan at once to save time. For best braising liquid, be sure to chop the green onions and sweet peppers finely, then cook them long enough to release their flavor into the broth. (Regular yellow onion is strong enough to release its flavor when cut into a larger dice.) A flavorful, concentrated broth improves the dish. If you don’t have green onions, green bell pepper is a good in-season substitute. Feel free to substitute other herbs, like oregano, for the thyme. If you use fresh herbs instead of dried, double the quantity.

Closeup of Braised Greens on Plate
Colorful Braised Greens
 Simply Braised Greens
serves ~6

1 tbsp. organic canola oil
1 cup diced yellow onion (1 small)
½ cup sliced green onions (~½  bunch)
½ cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1½ cups chicken or veggie broth
¾ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
Sugar or other sweetener as needed
5 cups loosely packed mizuna, chopped
5 cups loosely packed baby bok choy
10 cups loosely packed spinach

Heat canola or other high-heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Add diced yellow onions. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until onion starts to get soft and translucent. Add sliced green onions and finely chopped sweet pepper. Stir fry for another two minutes, or until peppers start to soften.

Add pressed garlic and continue to stir fry another minute or so, until garlic is well-distributed and fragrant.

Add broth, dried thyme, and salt to wok. Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer for 4 – 5 minutes, until veggies are quite soft.

Taste the braising liquid. Add sweetener and salt as needed to adjust flavor. You could also add a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, fresh herbs, or dried bouillon if flavor seems too light.

Return heat to medium high, and add greens to wok about 4 cups at a time. Toss greens with broth until wilted, then add the next 4 cups of greens. Continue until all greens are incorporated.

Stir down greens and scrape down sides of wok so that all veggies are close to or below the surface of the broth. Bring to boil, cover, and lower heat to medium to simmer.

Let greens simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove greens from liquid to serving platter.

Tossing Mizuna with Liquid
Tossing Mizuna with Liquid Till Wilted

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