24 September 2012

Cheap eats: Greens without bacon

Look at these farmers market greens. I think it's Swiss chard. I'm not sure. One of my parents is from Italy, and I understand they eat a lot of greens there, but we never ate greens much when I was growing up, other than salad lettuces. And those of the pale-green variety. But these greens were $2.50 per bunch at the farmers market. I pulled the bunch apart, let the leaves soak in fresh water in the sink for a few minutes, and rinsed each leaf individually. Then I pulled the leaves away from the rib to about halfway up the leaf, and discarded the large ribs.

So close you can smell the magnesium
Rowhouse Livin' is a mostly vegetarian household, for health and budgetary reasons. So although studies show that it's a scientifically proven fact that greens are better cooked in bacon, salt pork, or some other kind of dripping, we're using butter today.

Two generous tablespoons of butter for one bunch of greens
The skillet is at medium-high heat. Before adding the greens, soften some sliced or diced onions, if you like. We didn't this time. Then put about a third of the greens in, and season with salt and pepper. Let the greens wilt, then put in another third, and then the last third. Stir the greens and turn them over. Cover loosely with the lid to a large stockpot if the pan gets dry. A little more salt helps draw out water and also eases the bitterness that some people find objectionable in dark, leafy greens.

One third left to go
Some people add nutmeg. We added curry powder. A half-tablespoon will do.

No, as a matter of fact, daughter didn't exactly care for it
Turn the leaves over to distribute the curry powder (or nutmeg). Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid, and stir occasionally. The greens should be softened and savory in under 20 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta. If brown rice, then start preparing the rice before the greens. If white rice or pasta, cook at the same time.

Cost: Greens, $2.50. Butter, $0.25. Salt, pepper, curry powder, $0.20. Rice, $0.50.

Total Rowhouse Livin' dinner cost: $3.45, or $1.73/plate.


Anonymous said...

A nutritious value at any price - but a better value at that one. Looks great!

Anonymous said...

A few stray thoughts: Yup, that's chard. One of the least bitter of the dark leafy greens.

Don't waste the stems! They're good eatin'. Remove them from the leaves, trim the dry end, then slice. They take slightly longer than the leaves to cook, so toss them in first. And 20 minutes is reeeeeeallllly long for cooking chard. It's better just lightly sauteed, wilted but not killed.

I've never tried butter & curry powder, but one of my fav methods is to heat a little olive oil and brown thinly sliced yellow onion in it first. Carmelized onion is great with chard and offsets any bitterness (and adds flavor, of course). Another fine addition: raisins. And if you have some old radishes lurking in the back of the crisper (they seem to last forever), dice or slice those and toss them in when you start the stems.

Then, if you're feeling decadent, grate some fresh parmesan over it when it hits your plate.