After all of the indulgent foods that we consumed between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Brian and I have been more than ready to get back into our typical, mostly healthy*, eating routine. We've bookmarked page after page of easy-to-prepare, full-of-veggies, yet still homey and comforting meals in some of our favorite cookbooks, and also in some new titles gracing the bookshelf. It is my hope that the month of January on Bella Eats will help all of us to get back on track and break our dependence on cheese plates before and dessert after most meals, as lovely as that may have been.
*To be clear, Brian and I believe in non-restrictive eating and the idea that nothing is off limits as long as moderation is practiced. So don't be surprised when small amounts of butter, cream, bacon etc. still appear in the lists of ingredients for recipes that claim to be healthy. Balance is key to a healthy diet, and we strive to prepare meals that are full of flavor and satisfying so as not to feel deprived of something that is important to us - delicious food!
Whenever I feel off-track, out of balance, the need for a healthy meal after weeks of parties and holidays and travel and restaurants...I turn to dark greens. Full of nutrients and flavor, the consumption of a heaping pile of kale, collard greens, swiss chard, mustard greens or spinach as a side dish or addition to soup or salads has me instantly feeling like myself again. The most common preparation for us is to simply saute' any of the above greens with extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, finishing them with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. Occasionally though, I'll have the desire to try something different, such as when our friends gave us a heaping pile of mustard greens from their garden just before the big snowstorm hit in December.
Mustard greens have a spicy, peppery taste, and these particular greens were especially flavorful. We'd sauteed some in our typical fashion and, while still enjoyable, the spiciness was on the verge of being too overwhelming for us. I turned to Vegetables Every Day for an alternative method of preparation (our go-to book for veggies, always) and was so pleased with the result of my search. The creamy sauce and sweet onion tempers the spiciness of the greens but still allows their mustardy flavor to shine through. I could have eaten the entire bowl-full as a meal on its own.
Brian and I enjoy greens on the side of many dishes, but a recent discovery has been the deliciousness of greens on top of one of our favorite meals, sausage with peppers and onions. We stocked up on pork sausage from Double H Farm to get us through winter, and will throw a few links on the grill for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner quite often. Saute' red bell peppers with sweet onions in a bit of olive oil and garlic until tender. Serve sausage on a bun (whole wheat, for a healthier alternative) topped with peppers and onions and a generous helping of these greens. Add extra Dijon mustard if you're as big a fan as we are.
Mustard Greens with Creamy Mustard Sauce
from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
serves 4 as a side dish, or topping for sausage in a bun
- 1-1/2 pounds mustard greens (or turnip greens)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, minced
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup cream (light is fine)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.
- Wash the greens in several changes of cold water, then strip off the leafy green portion from either side of the tough stem. Discard the stalks and rip the leafy portions into small pieces. Add the greens and 1 tsp salt to the boiling water. Cook until the greens are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the greens and toss to coat with the butter and onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk the cream and mustard together in a small bowl. Add this mixture to the skillet and cook just until the greens absorb some of the sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.