Greens with lime and basil
People come up to me on the street all the time, and they say, “Claire, we love to eat greens, but we can’t be bothered to wash them or remove their stupid stems. Should we just popeye them straight from a can into our mouth?” Alright, so this is apocryphal. It’s never happened and it never will. But if it did…I would be ready with an answer. I have a tip
. A cooking tip. This is how I wash fresh greens. Even if they’re filthy muddy buggy greens straight from the farm after a horrible storm. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. What you do is fill a large bowl with cool water (a salad spinner bowl and basket is ideal – not because you’re going to spin it, but because it’s easier to dump out the dirty water and replace it with clean). You put the greens in and swish them about a bit. Then you let them soak while you go about your business. In my experience, the bugs will float to the surface, and the sand and grit will sink to the bottom. You dump out all the dirty water, rinse the bowl, and soak again. (This is where a salad spinner comes in handy, because you can just lift the greens right out in the built-in basket.) You swish them around a little bit and then let them soak again. How many times you do this depends on the dirtiness of your greens. Once the bottom of the bowl is grit and sand free after a soak, you’re probably clean enough. Now, to remove the stems, and also check each leaf for hidden bugs – you use your fingers. I find this much quicker than trying to chop the stems off. You pick up a leaf, fold it in half lengthwise (they often do this all by themselves) and pull the stem off from the bottom to as far up the leaf as you need to go to remove the unpleasant spiny bits, using your other hand to pinch the leaf so that you don’t lose too much good green stuff. It’s sort of hard to describe, but try it and it will all make sense. This is a surprisingly quick and easy job, even if you have a large batch of greens. Many of the smaller stems can just be snapped off near the bottom. If you have something with giant fat stems like kale, it’s easiest of all – you just grab the stem and pinch the leafy parts right off. It’s that easy!!
I think this is a really nice way to make greens. It’s fresh, sweet and tart. I made it with half broccoli rabe, half chard. So – a little bitter plus a little earthy. I like to pair a more assertive green (broccoli rabe, turnip, beet) with something gentler like spinach or chard. You could use any green you like with this, and just adjust the lime/honey ratio till it’s perfect for you. This is quick and doesn’t make your kitchen too hot on a summer’s day!
Here’s Outkast with So Fresh, So clean, because this tastes fresh, and your greens are so clean!
2 cups broccoli rabe – washed, thick woody stems removed
2 cups chard – washed, stems removed
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic – minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 lime’s worth of zest
1/2 lime’s worth of juice
1 T honey (or to taste)
small handful of fresh basil, cut in ribbons (thai is nice, or a mix!)
1/2 T butter (unless you’re vegan!)
salt and plenty of pepper
Boil the greens in salted water for 5 – 10 minutes. Drop the broccoli rabe in first, and the chard after a couple of minutes. I like my broccoli rabe soft and melty, but take it out when it looks good to you. Drain the greens in a colander and run a little cool water on them. Chop them roughly.
In a large frying pan warm some olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and lime zest. When the garlic starts to brown, add the greens. Stir and cook till they’re warm through, and just as wilted as you like them. Put them in a bowl and stir in the butter and the honey. Squeeze the lime juice over everything. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle basil over the top. Serve!!
Yes, this is exactly how I wash greens! The big basin of water method wins every time–especially because the dirt sinks and the leaves don’t. Those spicy greens sound perfect as well!
Once you get the hang of it, washing greens is not that big a deal. Unfortunately an aquaintance of mine stopped being a member of CSA because washing the greens was too much work…
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