Greens

Greens

By
Tony Chiodo
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740668873
Photographer
Chris Chen

It’s not often that we get complimented on a dish of greens at the table. But why shouldn’t the greens shine? Many people tend to over- or under-cook their greens and leave them undressed and therefore un-exciting to the palette. We wouldn’t think of serving a plain boiled chicken or fish without a sauce, marinade or spice, so why would we approach greens this way?

Greens are the planet’s way of delivering one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. These foods, especially dark leafy varieties, are loaded with fibre, chlorophyll, calcium and vitamins A and C. Greens are an essential ingredient in a healthy diet.

When choosing greens, generally the smaller the leaf the milder the flavour – darker and larger leaves tend to have a stronger flavour. Different greens appear in every season and require different methods of preparation and flavouring.

I organise my greens into three groups: Asian greens, which include bok choy (pak choy), choy sum and mustard greens – some are sweet and tender and others hardier and bitter; Italian greens, such as rocket, chicory and dandelion, most of which are hardy and have a degree of bitterness; and finally, firm greens, such as broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, peas and green beans.

To prepare leafy greens, first remove any woody or hard stems as they never soften and their strong flavour can ruin a dish.

I use three methods of cooking greens: blanching, steaming and sautéing.

Blanching is a wet style of cooking and is suitable for firm and dry vegetables and greens such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, peas and brussels sprouts.

To blanch greens, drop the vegetables into a small amount of boiling water in a saucepan.

The water should remain boiling throughout the cooking. Blanching is fast and helps retain crispness, nutrients and great looking greens.

Even when you remove a vegetable from the blanching pot it continues to cook. So, plunge it into cold water for a minute to stop the cooking process then drain. Keep tasting your greens as they cook and drain when al dente – slightly crisp on the inside and soft on the outside. As different vegetables have different cooking times, start by adding the firmest vegetable first, such as brussels sprouts, then something like green beans or broccoli and lastly peas and asparagus. Cooking times will also be influenced by the size of the vegetable and its freshness.

Steaming will create a dryer effect on your greens than blanching and is suitable for watery vegetables, such as zucchini, spinach, squash and silverbeet.

The steaming method is an intense way of cooking greens. It’s faster than blanching and produces firmer vegetables. As steaming is a fast process, your greens may overcook quickly. Check the texture to ascertain whether they’re ready or not.

Sautéing is a fast and furious way to cook your greens. The idea is to get a wok or frying pan hot, but not smoking. Add oil, garlic, ginger or chilli – or all three – then drop in the greens and stir continuously. Taste as you go and the idea is to retain a bright colour and sweet taste with minimal cooking.

The following recipes are some of my favourite greens matched with individual dressings and condiments.

Recipes in this Chapter

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