Turnip greens…

Loose mustard greens

While having leisurely Sunday morning coffee I was browsing through the Huffington Post and discovered a presentation on rediscovering mustard greens (though I didn’t realize that they were lost or misplaced). If mustard greens need rediscovery, then perhaps turnip greens need rediscovery (or just discovery) too. One of my favorite things to do with heartier greens (those that need longer cooking, unlike spinach) like collards, mustard, kale, dandelion, or chard is to braise them with sausages for a one-pot meal that is easy to make in any quantity–and reheats and freezes well.

Just recently I was the happy recipient of a LOT of turnip greens from a gardener who likes the bottoms–the turnips and not the green tops. Some of these were older–so a bit spicier, with some of the “horseradish” tang that you find in mustard greens as well.

Even though it was warm weather, I had just started an intense indexing project and wanted some easy food–braised greens with sausage.  No need for a recipe and certainly not labor-intensive or needing a lot of attention while it cooked. (I thought about using the pressure cooker, or the slow cooker but just did this on the stove-top this time)

hot italian sausage IMG_6092I started by dicing and sautéing a large onion, then added a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings, to brown lightly.  Of course it needed garlic–about half a dozen large cloves, minced. (The garlic mellows a lot during cooking.)  Since the greens had their own “heat” and I had used hot Italian sausage, I didn’t add the hot red pepper flakes that I would have used with other sausages, or other greens–e.g. kale or collards.

Once the garlic had sautéed enough to become aromatic, I added the washed and cut up greens (still wet from washing) and a can of diced tomatoes. In a tightly lidded pot, I left this over low heat until the greens were almost tender–about 45 minutes. (Since these were older turnip greens, I did remove the stems before cooking.)

In went one can (rinsed) of pinto beans (not on the low-carb diet, but…) and continued to cook about 30 minutes more to let the beans pick up some of the flavor of the greens and the sausage. Home-cooked dried beans would have been better, but since I didn’t have any of those in the freezer, and hadn’t planned ahead–canned ones had to do for now.

And there you have it, a quick supper, and a couple of servings for the freezer for several more quick, comforting meals.  Since the greens were spicy, the sweet Italian sausage added a nice counterpoint. I’m glad to have some tucked away in the freezer since I suspect that will be the last of the turnip greens for the summer–as the weather gets hotter the greens get a bit more assertive. If I’m lucky and there are more, I’ll probably do this again, but omit the hot Italian sausage. Or think about doing this with lamb sausage…so many possibilities, and so easy–and reasonably healthy as well.

All you need to add is a glass of a nice sassy, robust red wine, and maybe some good crusty bread (if you’re not on a low-card diet). A son goût!

Beans & greens–soup!

close-up of rapini or broccoli raab

rapini

This is one of my favorite recipes for the seasons when cool weather crops are easy to find.  It’s modified from “Marcella Cucina” (Bibliography)–it’s four servings as a main course, but it freezes well, and reheats well.  For best results, I recommend cooking your own dried beans, but canned will always work as well.  If you can’t find borlotti or cranberry beans, pinto beans would be a good substitute. If you can’t find the rapini (broccoli raab, or broccoletti) you can use broccoli–but the taste won’t be the same.  Rather than broccoli, I’d opt for other winter greens such as mustard greens or kale.

Cranberry Bean and Cime de Rapa Soup

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups dried, soaked, cooked borlotti (cranberry) beans
  • 1-1/2 pounds greens, stemmed if large
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped fine (about 1 cup).

Preparation

Beans

  • Soak beans overnight in brine.
  • Drain and bring to a boil in a fresh change of water.
  • Reduce the heat and cook at a very low boil until for about 30 minutes
  • Add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and continue to cook until tender.
  • Let them steep in the cooking liquid until ready to use.

Greens

  • Wash the greens in several changes of water and stem the leaves if they are large.
  • In a covered saucepan, with 2 cups water,  bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Add salt to taste and cook until tender.
  • Drain the greens.
  • When cool enough to handle, chop coarsely.

The soup

  • Put olive oil and pancetta (or bacon) in saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until browned.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic just begins to color.
  • Add the chopped greens and cook for about 5 minutes, turning frequently to coat with oil and mix with the bacon.  Be sure to scrape the fond (all the good brown stuff) from the bottom of the pan.  If needed, add 1/4 cup water to help with this.
  • Drain the beans (do not discard the cooking liquid).
  • Purée half the beans and enough cooking liquid to make a medium dense consistency.
  • Add to the remaining beans and the greens and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Taste and correct seasoning, and serve.

The original recipe suggests that this not be refrigerated since a night in the refrigerator will give the vegetable a “grassy, metallic” taste.  I don’t think that is an issue–you’ll only be able to tell if you try it yourself.  I would package some in zipper-lock freezer bags (single-serving amounts) and put it directly into the freezer.

Chicken sausage

Chicken Italian sausage

I’ve made this substituting sausage cut in pieces for the pancetta or bacon to make it a heartier soup.  Italian sausage (hot or mild according to taste) works well, but I’ve use other sausages from the store-made ones at Harris Teeter, such as lamb. There are a number of chicken sausages available if you’d like to avoid beef or pork.  Even without adding meat it’s still a hearty warming light supper.

A son goût!