For this week’s recipe, we’ll focus on a hearty greens vegetable side dish that is versatile enough to adapt to any hearty green available and neutral enough to pair well with any main meat dish of your liking.
The dish is a braise (a slow cook in liquid) of your favorite “hearty green”; hearty greens include kale, collard greens, mustard greens, or any other sturdy winter green. I do not recommend the use of Swiss chard or spinach in this braise, as the time in the liquid will make the leaves unbearably soggy.
From a nutritional standpoint, hearty greens such as kale contain a large amount of Vitamin K, which aids in blood coagulation in the body. Vitamin K is not provided in a large amount by animal foods, so these types of vegetables balance a good meat-filled meal well.
Garlic-Braised Hearty Greens (Serves 4-6) Total time: 45-50 minutes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 5 minced garlic cloves (Be sure to really mince the garlic finely. More pungent garlicky flavor is released the more garlic is chopped.)
- 1 c. chicken broth (Homemade is best here, obviously.)
- 1 c. water
- 2 lbs. kale or other study winter green, stemmed and chopped into about 2″ pieces. (The kale will cook way down; trust me, you want lots.)
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- pinch red pepper flakes
- Dutch oven (6qt or higher)
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until it’s just shimmering. You don’t want to heat the oil too far and push it past its smoke point.
- Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown/caramelize, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and bloom until fragrant, which will take about 30 seconds.
- Stir in broth, water, and 1/4 tsp non-iodized salt and bring the liquid to a simmer.
- Stir in the greens, one handful at a time, and cook until they begin to wilt. Take some time in between handfuls to allow the greens to absorb some of the braising liquid. this step will take you 2-4 minutes.
- Cover the Dutch oven, reduce the heat to low or medium low, and simmer while stirring occasionally for 25-35 minutes. You’re looking for tender greens here, so the cooking time may vary. Kale takes longer than mustard greens or collard greens, so if you’re using one of those latter two, watch the pot.
- Uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until most of the liquid has evaporated. The bottom of the pot will be almost dry, and your greens will start to sizzle. This will take about 8-12 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat, stir in lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Serve as a side dish to your meat of the night.
If you prefer, you can also substitute bacon grease or ghee for the olive oil. I’ve had great success with both. The flavors will be subtly different, but in no way worse.
- America’s Test Kitchen. Vegetables Illustrated(2019). ISBN: 978-194-525-6738
- “USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy: Vitamin K” (PDF). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2018.
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