Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tips for Making the Most of Winter Greens

Yesterday, I talked about making the most of cooked turkey meat and bones, simmering leftovers to make stock that can then be used to cook rice, pasta, lentils, or to enrich the flavor of casseroles.

I also like to use stock to cook my vegetables; it infuses the veggies and adds flavor. Try boiling broccoli in stock or brussel sprouts.

Add stock to partially cover the vegetables (don't completely submerge). Once veggies are cooked, whatever liquid is still in the pot, keep it; it's delicious.

It's also rich in minerals, so try pouring it over your meal or into potatoes with a little butter for mashing or over a piece of grilled fish, chicken, and beef -- you get the idea.

Spinach is not a vegetable that I would generally cook in liquid. It's already full of water and tossed into a skillet (above pic) over med heat and stirred gently, it wilts quickly (pic to left).

When winter greens are on sale, I'll take advantage of the sale price and buy more greens than I would eat in a week.

I bought two, organic bunches of spinach for the price of one recently, and then I did what I often suggest in this blog and that is, I wilted one bunch, divided it into portions (pic below), and froze those portions for later.

This takes a bit of forethought at the store, and prep once home, but in winter, when phytonutrient-rich leafy greens are less abundant than in spring make the most of winter sales and stock up.

Because delicate leafy greens perish quickly, it's best to take the time to wash and drain them in a colander or salad spinner, and then either store them in the fridge in the salad spinner or wilt greens -- as in the pictures above and below.

Once wilted, either freeze portions or keep portions in the fridge for use within the week. If you plan on eating spinach raw in a salad, consume it within a couple days of purchase -- before the leaf-edges begin to brown.

Spinach freezes well, since it's full of moisture. When you plan to include your frozen spinach portions in an upcoming meal, simply remove a container from your freezer in the morning and leave it out for the day.

It'll be unfrozen by the time you're ready to prepare your evening meal.

6 ways to make the most of wilted spinach:
1) Add it to a quiche or omelet. First squeeze the liquid from the spinach as you'd squeeze water out of a kitchen sponge.
2) Toss wilted spinach back into a skillet with some butter, spring onions, salt and pepper and perhaps a handful of raisins and pistachios, and serve it on top of rice and or as a side to grilled chicken, turkey, or grilled lamb sausages.
3) Toss with bacon and pine nuts, and spoon over pasta.
4) Add to soups, casseroles, stews.
5) Mash into potatoes or sweet potatoes as you would parsley.
6) Saute with other vegetables like sliced carrots, peppers, leeks, spring onions and celery.

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