09 December 2014
When I cook greens, my technique tends towards the traditional Southern style. I use just about any dark, leafy greens, whether they’re cultivated—spinach, collards or kale—or gathered wild—dandelion, lamb’s quarter, yellow dock, sochan or nettle. When I say "Southern style," I mean chopped greens in a long, slow sauté (30 minutes or more) at low heat with olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee along with onions, garlic, a generous splash of vinegar and a dash of salt. When I’m feeling really daring, I’ll even add a little fatback. I cook those greens until the leaves are soft and limp (and yummy).
This probably goes against some notions of modern cooking techniques. Current alternative nutritional sensibilities tend to favor lightly steamed or nearly raw vegetables, with little to no added fat. But I have my reasons for this dissent. Taste is certainly one of them, but more important are the nutritional benefits to be gained. Healthy fats like organic butter and coconut oil are greatly undervalued. Besides improving flavor, they make fat-soluble minerals more available to us and are particularly important for women in supporting the hormonal system. The acidity in the vinegar helps release minerals and the extended cooking time encourages the breakdown of the plant fibers to liberate nutrients for easy assimilation into our bodies.
What is truly surprising is how divinely delicious seasonal greens—even bitter greens like dandelion—can be when presented in this simple way.
Defy convention—give it a try!