Veggie Might: Love Your Vegetables — Smokey Mustard Greens

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

I don’t feel like I’m eating vegetables if I’m not eating leafy greens. Though corn will always be number one in my heart, greens are my favorite everyday vegetable. Depending on the variety, you’ll find vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and folate in significant quantities per serving of leafy green. (If you’re concerned about calcium, forget the yogurt and make yourself a batch of collard greens.)

When it comes to the leafies, I’m not picky, though if you pin me down I’ll choose Swiss chard for its brightly colored stems and delicate flavor. The half-Southerner in me loves collards and turnip greens too; and I’ll always delight in a dish with kale or an arugula salad.

I was craving the hearty bite of kale when I picked up a bunch mustard greens last week at the market. The lighter green and less hefty leaves were stashed under the “kale” label. A few glances around the produce section indicated the store was out of kale and trying to trick me with mustard greens; so I went with it.

I sautéed my unintended take in my usual olive oil, onion, garlic way. The resulting side dish was far from a disaster, but it came out more bitter (bitterer) than I recall mustard greens being. They weren’t dandelion greens, people.

A few days later, I remembered Lidia Bastianich’s method for taking the edge off broccoli rabe, which is to let the veg simmer in water for a few minutes after a quick sauté. What if I applied this technique to mustard greens?

A miracle. With a smidge of smoked paprika (or liquid smoke) for that Southern flavor, mustard greens have never tasted better. CB and I had them with our Middle Eastern tapas plate and I’ve had them again with lunch for a few days. They just keep getting better.

This little adventure has inspired me to learn new (and proper?) ways of cooking vegetables, especially greens. I filled up my library hold list with vegetable-specific cookbooks this week in anticipation, so, look out for more straight-up veg from me in the coming months. And, if you have any tips for cooking greens, give me a shout in the comments. I’m always looking for new excuses to buy kale.


If this recipe floats your boat, paddle on over to:

Smokey Mustard Greens
Serves 4
Inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s Broccoli Rabe with Oil and Garlic

16 ounces mustard greens (about 8 cups), washed, woody stems removed, and torn
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion
6 cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

1) In a large heavy bottomed skillet, like cast iron, sauté onion in oil for two minutes until soft. Add garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for one more minute.

2) Add mustard greens by the handful, stirring until they are coated with spices and begin to wilt.

3) Once all greens have been added to the pan, add water, cover, and simmer for about five minutes. Remove cover and cook one or two more minutes.

4) Serve alongside any entree, but don’t be surprised if the greens are the star of the meal.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
60 calories, 2.3g fat, 4g fiber, 4g protein, $.48

16 ounces mustard greens: 112 calories, 0g fat, 16g fiber, 16g protein, $1.49
2 teaspoons olive oil: 79.2 calories, 9.24g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.05
1 small onion: 20 calories, 0.1g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.25
6 cloves garlic: 24 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.07
1 teaspoons smoked paprika: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 teaspoons salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tablespoon black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
TOTALS: 235 calories, 9.25g fat, 16g fiber, 16g protein, $1.92
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 60 calories, 2.3g fat, 4g fiber, 4g protein, $.48