Monday, October 5, 2009

greens, beans, and bags

I have been on a real greens kick lately. Collards, endive, escarole, chard...anything leafy. I've always liked these veggies, but an article by Christina Pirello (inspiring vegan cook, and new contributor to my employer Intermezzo) has really reawakened my interest.

First, take a look. How beautiful is that.

These are collard greens, my go-to green. I started using them a lot when I lived in Boston, after eating them at a Brazilian restaurant and falling in looove. They were sliced into ribbons and sauteed with, well, I don't know. Probably meat drippings. But in my house, they are stacked up, sliced into thin ribbons, and sauteed in garlic and olive oil until bright green and still pretty crispy. When I moved to Austin, I started using them more and more. I think I like the idea of collard greens because they are so Southern.

A couple weeks ago I bought a ton of different greens for a salad. I'm still shopping at Central Market without plastic, so I was just putting them in my shopping bag and sticking the printed labels on a piece of paper. This hasn't been working so great at home though. Without the plastic bags, my veggies have been deteriorating quickly, especially leafies.

I decided to make an investment. One of my friends used to have these special plastic bags she kept her produce in and swore it kept it fresh for ages. They kind of disturbed me, as it just seemed like spinach shouldn't last for ten days. But I saw the bags, by Peak Fresh, in CM and decided to give it a shot. I have to say, they are working amazingly well. Apparently they let out the gasses that would cause veggies to wilt and go bad. They are reusable too, of course.

So I don't have to use the wasteful plastic bags, and my stuff lasts longer. What a deal. I can buy a week's worth of greens and other veggies in one shot.

I have lots of recipes for greens, but here is a quick soup for today. This is a really vague and simple recipe, even for me...maybe we should think of it more as "inspiration" than a recipe. It barely even qualifies as guidelines. But it raises some interesting points, and this is exactly how I eat it.

Bean and Green Soup

Olive oil
1 chopped onion
a couple cloves chopped garlic
head of collard or other cooking green, sliced/chopped as you prefer
about 2 cups cooked white beans
water, salt, pepper

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.

*point one: you can use more or less olive oil, depending on how much flavor and fat you want or don't want. If you're on a diet, use just a tablespoon or so; if you are not concerned (and this soup is VERY healthy) use more. I use...a generous three-glug pour.

Add greens. saute until they collapse and are bright green.

Add beans and water.

*point two. I am never buying boxed or canned broth again. It is a waste of money and packaging. I will make my own veg or chicken stock if I feel like it, but I have been making really good soups with just water. If you cook your own beans, which I have been doing, you can also use some of the bean cooking water.

Cook this all over low for about half an hour. The beans will eventually start falling apart. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano! this is a better source of flavor than all the canned broth in the world. Parm has "umami," that Japanese-identified fifth flavor group. It is a packaged, imported food I will never give up. Then, if you are crazy, add spice, either red pepper flakes, or, as I did, Sriracha.

OK, that looks absolutely revolting and I admit it. But it was really good. Scott ate it with a lot less parm and zero spice and loved it, as he does all my various water-based bean soups. With a piece of multi grain bread it is a very healthy meal. I also sometimes cook a chicken sausage for Scott that he throws in his portion, since he doesn't always like to eat veg.

1 comment:

  1. this sounds really good, i must be getting wise in my old age as i am smart enough to learn from you, who knew you had all these secrets. will you tell me more about these bags? i have been wanting a reusable way to bag things like greens, need to find them around here someplace. kj vermont