Until late in my life, I didn’t really eat greens, and when I’d had them they’d always been Collard greens cooked forever with ham hocks or salt pork – delicious, but something I’ve avoided because of the high fat and long cooking process. That was a shame, because any of the greens, turnip, kale, collard and beet greens are powerhouses of nutritional value. Even radish greens are great for you!
Then steps in my sister-in-law – her Turnip Greens were fresh, bright, healthy AND delicious – and I’m a convert. She doesn’t use recipes – just throws things together and they turn out wonderfully. So I watched her, and called her, and made them and made them again.
Even so, I need a little guide, so I’ve cobbled together a rough recipe. Greens are so good for you, we eat good-sized servings, and some would probably consider this a double portion. You could certainly start with one bunch if you have small children and only want modest portions.
The date is a surprise ingredient, I know! My sister-in-law used a bit of sugar, but I was inspired…try it, it is truly wonderful in the recipe. A few raisins would work as well. They add just a touch of sweetness and an indescribable flavor that enhances the greens.
Braised Turnip (or other) Greens, serves 4
- 2 bunches of greens, washed, stem removed, sliced across into ribbons 1/2″ thick
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (I like to use 2 dates, finely chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons any vinegar. (I like balsamic or red wine, but even apple cider or plain old white vinegar is fine.)
Saute onion in oil until softened. When nearly soft, add in dates, if using. Add greens and stir with a tong until they’re beginning to wilt. Add in the rest of ingredients, cover and steam until tender, but still bright in color, about 8 to 10 minutes.
These greens tend to cook a bit more after the heat is turned off – remove them from the hot pan and give them a toss or two.
Serve with additional vinegar for drizzling over the top.
Note on vinegar: Vinegar on greens is a trick I picked up from my German grandfather – some people like lemon juice. I simply don’t like greens without the bit of acidity, so trust me on this.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
You can make greens in a large pot and freeze in Ziploc bags for a quick side later. I save the stalks and use in my morning green smoothies. Some greens have tender stalks that can be easily chopped finely and steamed.
- Greens: Buy whatever is on sale, although if you’re new to eating greens, you can’t go wrong with turnip greens. From the name, you might expect them to be stronger and more tangy than other greens, but they’re milder than most of the greens. A bunch runs between 89 to 99 cents here in Minnesota and up to $1.49 – other regions may well have lower prices. Because they are so good for you and cook down so much, I always use two bunches. We eat a good-sized portion. Cost: $2.00
- If you fold the greens so the stalk protrudes, you can very easily remove most of it. I don’t worry about the thinner bits of stalk higher on the leaf – I like the texture.
- Olive Oil: I have a little strategy for buying olive oil – using coupons and sales to lower the price, so click on the link. I think it’s important to use olive oil as opposed to many others – the health benefits outweigh a bit more extra cost, and it can be had at a very reasonable price. I also like the fact that Olive oil contains no hidden trans fats like Canola or Vegetable oil. Cost for this recipe: 6 cents.
- Chicken Stock: If you read me regularly, I make my own with scraps of vegetables and bones – here’s the basic recipe I use for Best Turkey or Chicken Stock - it’s not particular and though it simmers for a long time, the burner is barely on – I just count it as free..
- Onions: They keep well, so try to buy on sale. Aldi’s is a good place to find reasonably priced onions. Always less expensive in the fall/winter months, the pricing in my area runs from 33 to 66 cents a pound. Store them in a dark, cool place but not near potatoes. If you’ve bought too many onions, don’t let them go bad.Slice or dice them, saute and portion into Ziplocs labeled “onions” and freeze. You’ve just saved yourself a step for next time you make a dish. If you have enough, consider making French Onion Soup. If you use half an onion, consider if you can sauté the rest and put it in a Ziploc in the freezer. If not store in the door where you’ll see it when you’re cooking next. An onion at 33 cents a pound: 5 cents.
- Brown Sugar or Dates & Vinegar - about 3 cents, vinegar less than a penny. You can use lemon instead of the vinegar. Total 4 cents.
Cal 126; fat 7.38g; sod 134mg; carb 10; sug 3.35g; prot 4.32g; fib 3.77
Put Your Own Spin on It:
- You can use Kale or Collard greens here, too; they will need to cook a little longer, and you’ll need to watch your liquid. Beet greens are wonderful – if you buy beets in the fall, use the greens in this recipe.
- Go Italian and use red pepper flakes and garlic; saute in an open pan until tender. Throw in an anchovy instead of the dates for extra flavor.
- Although it seems contrary (to me) to the whole point of this recipe, you could use bacon.
Kitchen & Cooking Hack:
Anytime you have potential waste from parts of a vegetable that you don’t care to prepare and eat, like the tough stems of some greens, consider how you might be able to make some better use of it rather than tossing.
I use these parts and pieces in my morning Green Smoothies. These would be ideal, too for a compost pile.
Turnip (or other) greens made April 2012.