Driving around this morning I was in awe at the beauty of fall all around me. Yet the feeling is bittersweet as I realize how much is lost as we move into this incredibly gorgeous season. The tomatoes and flowers and most summer crops are just about gone, but there is still plenty of sage in the herb garden! Sage is one of those herbs that I find frustrating. It grows throughout the summer season, yet tradition has us using it mostly in fall and winter dishes. This is where knowing how to preserve sage is key.
My favorite way to preserve sage is simply to mince up the fresh leaves, put about a teaspoon in each section of an ice cube tray, and then top each section off with water. Once frozen, you can pop out the sage cubes and place them in an airtight container in the freezer. They can be added to soups and stews all throughput the winter.
But there are other ways to preserve sage. Check out this excellent article on 11 other ways of making sage last (click here).
Before I became a CSA member I never knew there were so many different kinds of greens out there in the world. Spinach, chard, kale and collards were about all I was familiar with. Occasionally I would venture into Asian markets and see all kinds of interesting greens, but I naively assumed I could only use them in Asian preparations.
Now I realize that for all practical purposes, a green is a green is a green. Use them interchangeably or mix them together, it seldom matters. Sure, some are spicier or more peppery, some are tender while others have tougher leaves or stalks, and they may have slightly different cooking times, but the basic ways they enhance a dish are all pretty similar…they can all be used in soups, stews, stir fries, salads, pastas, grain salads or sides, casseroles, etc…
Like my father used to always say to us kids about the exotic foods from the sea he wanted us to try…”It tastes like chicken”. The corresponding saying in the greens world would probably be “it’s a lot like spinach”. This is true for our featured item this week, Tatsoi.
Tatsoi, often called spoon mustard (for the shape of its leaves), spinach mustard (see, there’s the spinach), or rosette bok choy is a member of the Brassica family and is a close relative of bok choy. When young the leaves can be quite small and are often added to pre-packaged salad mixes (as a “spinach”). As the plant grows the leaves become a little bigger and are often cut to include their edible stalks, which have been described as “tender”. Because Tatsoi is in the mustard family, it does have a bit of a bite, especially when raw, but some say these greens are milder than many other mustard greens.
Tatsoi can be eaten raw, although some say raw preparations are best with very young Tatsoi greens. You often find recipes pairing raw tatsoi leaves with strong or bracing flavors (like citrus or vinegars), or with umami flavors like soy sauce, fish sauce, or seaweed.
Tatsoi can be cooked like (yes, you guessed it) spinach. Because it is so tender, it requires little cooking time and can often just be added last minute to dishes (or right after taking them off the heat). As mentioned above, add tatsoi leaves to soups/stews/chilies, pasta dishes, grain side dishes, casseroles, stir fries or simply saute the greens for an easy side dish.
Here are some ideas culled from the internet for both raw and cooked Tatsoi
Tatsoi and Warm Scallop Salad (click here for recipe)
Brown Butter Pasta with Tatsoi (click here for recipe)
Tatsoi Salad with Rutabaga, Pear and Horseradish (click here for recipe)
Noodle Soup with Chicken, Tatsoi, and Bok Choy (click here for recipe)
I stopped using woks once I found out that most are made with dangerous metals, including Teflon. I now make my stir-fries in my Scanpan, which is safer option (I hope) for non-stick cooking. However, I found I had to alter my technique in order to get vegetables that were tender before burning, especially with some of the fall vegetables that have a longer cook time. I came up with the following method that works well for my family, which is a hybrid of pan frying and braising.
– 1/4 cup mirin or other rice wine
– 3 tablespoons organic low sodium soy sauce
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons cornstarch
– 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
– 1 tablespoon ketchup
– 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
– 4 teaspoons coconut oil, divided, or more if needed
– 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 6 cups mixed vegetables, (carrots, broccoli, radish, turnip, bok choy, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower etc…)
– 1-2 cups chopped fresh greens (Tatsoi, radish or turnip tops, kale, mustard greens etc…)
Mix mirin through sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok on medium-high heat until very hot. Add half chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through. Turn chicken out into a large bowl. Add 2 more teaspoons oil and heat well. Add second batch of chicken and cook as with the first. Add second batch of chicken to the first in the bowl.
Add all longer cooking vegetables (including any stems but not greens) to pan and mix in mirin-soy mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until vegetables are tender. Add in any quick cooking vegetables and cook until tender. Finally, add back in chicken and greens. Cook just until greens wilt and chicken is heated through.
The following recipe is a great Oktoberfest type of dish. It works as well with kale as with collards. Sop up the extra juices with a good quality crusty bread.
– 1 package Bratwurst, (4 links)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil, or oil of choice
– 1/2 onion, thinly sliced on a mandoline
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 large bunch collards, stems removed
– 1 bottle mild beer
– 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
This dish is as pretty as it is delicious. I love using flavored balsamic vinegars, especially in the fall, because they easily dress up a pan of roasted root vegetables or winter squash.
– 1 bunch radishes, scrubbed and cut into halves
– 2 small delicata squash
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, preferably grass fed
– salt and pepper to taste
– about 1 tablespoon fall flavored balsamic vinegar, like pumpkin spice or maple or fig
Julie Wern is a Integrative Nutrition health coach, food writer, and cooking instructor who is passionate about health, food, and joyful living. For direct comments or inquiries please use this contact form to send a message to Julie. To comment on the blog, scroll down further to the blog comment section:
113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090