Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

You know your CSA produce is delicious when your cat, who is never interested in people food, starts gnawing on your scallion greens before you can even put your bounty safely away in the refrigerator.  Of course, since it is so adorable, you let him have at it.  No matter that he eventually makes himself sick….he knows a good thing when he tastes it, right?

Featured Item—Green Wave Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are part of the brassica family that includes so many of the produce items we will experience this year such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, kale and collard greens.  Mustard greens have a reputation of being rather spicy; however many folks don’t realize that the greens mellow out significantly once cooked.  Green wave mustard greens are a popular version of this type, especially for taste and certain growing advantages.

Like its infamous brassica siblings, mustard greens are highly nutritious.  They have particularly high amounts of vitamins K, A, and C, and also provide a good amount of folate, manganese, vitamin E, calcium, fiber, and even protein.

Take a taste of a few of the raw leaves.  You will probably find that larger (or older) greens are spicier than the smaller ones.  Often, young mustard greens are added to salad mixes to liven them up a bit.  On their own, raw greens would be wonderfully complimented with bold, acidic flavors and/or a significant amount of fat, to counteract the spicy bite.  Try a garlicky Caesar dressing or even a hot bacon vinaigrette, for example.

Cooked, possibilities are truly endless.  Use like any other tender green.  Blanch and freeze, or add at the last minute to soups, stews, chilis, cooked grains, bean dishes, pizzas, or pasta dishes.  Try simply sautéing it with a bit of garlic and olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice.  In the south, it is popular to cook mustard greens with bacon, ham hocks, or other fatty pork, as is done with collard greens.

When choosing mustard greens, look for bright, crisp leaves.  Avoid wilted or yellowed leaves.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  The greens should keep for several days.  Like most other greens, these tend to hold onto lots of soil and grit, so be sure to rinse them well before using.

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My family is always looking for breakfast dishes and love to use eggs whenever we can.  Thus, I felt compelled to try an egg and green combination.  I came up with this fun “bruschetta for breakfast” idea as I considered how good mustard greens, bacon, and eggs would go together.  You don’t have to reserve it for breakfast, however.  This dish would be good for any meal of the day.

Mustard Green, Bacon and Egg Bruschetta                                    Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

– 2-3 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces

– 2 large eggs

– 6 cups mustard greens, well washed and drained but not dried, roughly chopped

– 1 large clove garlic, minced

– 2 sourdough bread slices

– 1 tablespoon butter or butter substitute

– 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.  Return pan with reserved bacon fat to heat.

Allow pan to get hot.  Carefully crack and set down each egg, being gentle so as to prevent whites from spreading out too much.  Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper.  Cook until whites are firm and cooked through but yolks are runny, turning once for a brief cook on the yolk side, if preferred.  Transfer eggs to a plate.

Return pan to heat.  Add mustard greens, garlic and bacon.  Cook, stirring frequently, until greens are wilted and tender, about 5 minutes, adding small amounts of water if greens seem dry or start to stick.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, mix butter and Dijon mustard.  Spread evenly across tops of each piece of sourdough.  Toast bread until lightly golden brown and crispy.  Place half of greens on each piece of bread and top with fried egg.  Serve immediately.

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I heard we might be receiving Napa cabbage this week.  Because of it’s mild flavor, I love this cabbage for topping burgers, burritos or tacos.  It is also wonderful in coleslaw.  But I run from coleslaw recipes that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Thai vinaigrettes, however, make a highly flavorful, yet light dressing for coleslaw.  These recipes call for fish sauce, a Southeast Asian condiment that adds a wonderful umami flavor to food and can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets.  Don’t be afraid of it’s name….it isn’t at all fishy.  In fact, it is addictive!

Grilled Ginger Beef over Thai Napa Cabbage Slaw                                    Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 pound flank steak, trimmed

– 1 tablespoon grated ginger

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– Slaw

– 7 cups Napa cabbage, shredded

– 1/4 cup lime juice

– Grated zest of 1 lime

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– 1 clove garlic, crushed

– 3 teaspoons sugar

– 1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)

– 1/4 cup minced cilantro

– 1 jalapeno, seeded, minced

– 3 scallions, thinly sliced

METHOD:

1. For meat:  Rub meat evenly with ginger, garlic, and salt.  Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare grill and slaw.  Preheat grill.

2. For Slaw:  In a small bowl, mix lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, garlic, sugar, and fish sauce until sugar is dissolved.  In large bowl toss Napa cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño and scallions.  Add about 2/3 dressing and toss to coat well.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

3. Carefully brush grill grates with oil (try using a an oil soaked cloth or paper towel).  Set grill heat to medium/low medium-high.  Grill steak about 4-6 minutes per side, or until you reach desired temperature.  Remove to plate and cover with foil.  Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.  Slice thinly.  Lay slices over slaw.  Drizzle meat with remaining dressing.

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