• Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

    I understand that this week our CSA distribution will be heavy on mustard greens and arugula so I will address both in this week’s Simply Fresh post.

    I have written extensively about arugula in past posts so check these out for preparation ideas and recipes (click here) (and here) (and here)

    I also found a great article on the web that suggests 19 ways to use arugula (click here)

    Featured Item—Mustard Greens (Red Mustard and Mizuna)

    Mustard greens are part of the brassica family that includes so many of the produce items we are familiar with, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, kale and collard greens. However, sadly, many people are intimidated by mustard greens for some reason. Mustard greens do have a reputation of being rather spicy; however many folks don’t realize that the greens mellow out significantly once cooked and/or enhanced with other ingredients.

    This week we will be receiving red mustard and mizuna varieties. Red mustard is a green leaf mustard variety with purplish accents. The leaves can grow quite large (12”L X 6” W). We are also receiving Mizuna, which is a Japanese variety of green leaf mustard with serrated leaves that look a little like frilly arugula.

    While the stems of red mustard and mizuna, along with most other mustard varieties, are edible, they stay crisper than the leaves. It can help to cook them a little longer than the leaves to even out their texture. I personally like to cut off most of the stem and chop it into small pieces, as my family tends not to like the “stringy” quality of cooked mustard greens when the long stems are left on.

    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. They are thought to have preventative benefits for cancer and cardiovascular disease through high amounts of phytonutrients and antioxidants.

    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 for mustard greens 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. Or, simply saute the greens with a bit of garlic and olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. In the south, it is popular to long-braise mustard greens with bacon, ham hocks, or other fatty pork, as with collard greens. Keep in mind that with red mustard, you may get some red coloring in finished dish, as you do with beet greens

    Here are some ideas from the internet for using mustard greens

    (click here)

    (and here)

    (and here)

    When choosing mustard greens, look for bright, crisp leaves. Avoid wilted or yellowed leaves. Refrigerate in a plastic bag. They 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.

    You could also substitute arugula for the mustard greens if you wished.

    Mustard Green, Bacon and Egg Bruschetta                                Serves 2

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2-3 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces

    – 2 large eggs

    – 6 cups mustard greens, roughly chopped

    – 1 large clove garlic, minced

    – 2 sourdough bread slices, from a boule

    – 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Meanwhile, mix butter and Dijon mustard. Spread evenly across tops of each piece of sourdough. Toast brad 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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    This ragout is hearty enough to eat on its own but would also be great on pasta or grains.

    For winter squash varieties that are easier to peel and chop, you can skip the step of roasting the squash whole. Peel and chop the winter squash and add it to the broth mixture in step 3. Once the squash is tender, add the beans and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

     

    Mustard Green, Winter Squash, and Cannellini Bean Ragout            Serves 4-6

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 3-4 slices organic bacon, chopped into small pieces (optional)

    – 1 large onion, chopped

    – 2 large cloves garlic, minced

    – 1 cup homemade chicken or vegetable broth

    – 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    – 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

    – 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

    – 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

    – 4-5 cups chopped mustard greens with stems

    – 1 15 ounce can organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

    – 1 medium winter squash

    – salt and pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    1. Heat oven to 425. Wrap squash tightly in a double layer of foil. Place in oven and cook until just tender but not too mushy, at least 1 hour. Remove from oven, open foil packet and allow to cool for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from squash, being careful not to smash it too much. Chop flesh into 1/2” cubes and set aside.
    2. Meantime, place bacon in a medium dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons bacon grease from pan. If not using bacon, place 2 teaspoons preferred oil in pan. Return pan to burner and reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add rosemary and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add broth, Dijon, maple syrup, and cider vinegar. Bring broth to a boil and reduce to a rapid simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Broth should reduce somewhat.
    3. Add mustard greens and beans and stir well. Cover pot and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover pot and cook, stirring occasionally until greens are tender but still bright green, 1-2 minutes more. Carefully fold in squash, being careful to keep pieces intact and not mash them. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until squash is hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta (you may want to add a couple tablespoons pasta water to the sauce) or cooked grains.
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