Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.
This week's harvest: Mustard Greens
So, this week we're delving into the happy land of mustard greens. Mustard, for me, evokes thoughts of Grey Poupon, hot dogs and nose tickles. These greens are gigantic and, this week, we're making our own junk food. Don't fret, it won't be the last time we do that in this series.
Follow the jump for some salty green goodness.
Mustard greens were first discoved 5000 years ago in the Himalayas in India. It's most popular in Nepal, India, Japan, China and the Southern part of the US. During the times of slavery these served as a substitute for the greens that were a big part of Western African cuisine.
When are mustard greens in season?
October through March
What does it taste like?
Well, it tastes a bit like mustard. In fact, the brown seeds from the plant are used to make brown mustard, like in Grey Poupon. The leaves are thin and sometimes have scalloped frilly edge on them. How dainty of them.
How do I eat it?
You can eat it raw or cooked.
Selecting, cleaning and storage tips:
Try to find pretty green leaves without yellow spots. However, we did have that freeze and some of the harvest might have been affected. Be nice to our farmers and buy them anyway if you find they're not perfect. They'll still taste good. Give them a good clean bath in the sink to clean and make sure they're dry before storing them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
What to do with it?
Baby mustard is great in salads but the big guys are better cooked. These greens don't need to be cooked to death, just a bit longer than say spinach that is slightly softer. If you're not sure, just pull a piece out and eat it. If you like the texture, you're done, if you want it softer, cook it longer. Easy.
This is what I did make. What? Worried you would miss out on the junk food. Don't worry. Big people and little people love greens chips. These are thin and just sort of dissolve on your tongue in the very best way. Here's how you I it.
Mustard Green Chips
Big bunch of mustard greens
Oil - I use olive oil
Preheat oven to 300. Wash and dry the leaves. De-rib them and then rip them into chip size pieces. Brush/rub/massage them with the oil (in a bowl is nice), making sure you coat it all over. Sprinkle with salt and then lay them out every so sweetly on a baking sheet, giving them room to crisp up. I like to line my baking sheet with a silicone mat. They seem to like that a lot.
Cook in the oven about 20 minutes or until brittle. You may find that some might be done, while others need some time. Cinchy, just pull out the done ones and then stick the pan back in the oven a few minutes. You'll do several batches since it's hard to spread out all the leaves. So, if you have several pans, use them up, it'll make quick work of these happy leaves that will last for several days of Jeopardy watching.
They're a really great snack and don't be alarmed if you *burp* find yourself, burping chip flavor a short while after consumption, they're good for you.
Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.