Monday, May 31, 2010

Produce of the Week: New Mustard Greens

My tiffin box lunch - carrot and celery sticks on top of my mustard greens with sunflower seeds!

Food-related news just seems to be endless; I can hardly keep up! One article I found particularly interesting in the NY Times discussed the history of corn. While I have often bemoaned our country's heavy reliance on processed corn, this crop played a critical role in our species' transition away from hunter-gatherers, and the development of agriculture. What our modern corn really demonstrates is the drastic transformation from the ancestor of maize through selection of favorable traits over generations. Compared to a present-day development of crops, this is such a snail pace. I think the evolution of our diet and food-system is just fascinating and incredible!

On another note, PepsiCo announced it is replacing all high-fructose corn syrup with cane sugar due to consumer pressure. There has been a ton of press on corn syrup this year, and I am glad this issue is coming into the mainstream! FYI Michael Pollan gives a bit of a history of corn in Omnivore's Dilemma.

Ok, on to more nutritious (and might I go far as to say delicious) produce. While it is almost June - and for some of you, it may be the wee hours of the morning of the first - the colorful bounty of fruits and vegetables comes late in the Pacific Northwest. Young leafy greens, however, are plentiful.

Two weeks ago I started working one day a week on a local farm. They are super-cool, providing produce to several Seattle-area restaurants and selling at a few of the farmers markets! In exchange for hoeing, weeding, and whatever else is needed of me, I get loaded down with a variety of produce. This past week I walked away with baby turnips (heavenly), chard, spinach, baby leaks, and something new and exciting - young mustard greens.

Oh, dear, but what does one do with new mustard greens? Most recipes seem to call for cooking of some manner...101 Cookbooks has Garlicky Greens. You can twist the classic beans and greens recipe like Fat Free Vegan - or use adzuki beans and flavor with curry powder for an Indian flair. Southern cuisine favors braising hardy greens, while the Vegetarian Times prefers steaming. There are several African-inspired soup recipes, including one with yams and one with peanuts (using mustards as the greens). But all these recipes are geared towards the tougher variety that resembles kale or collards, and more appropriate for winter. My new greens fit the spring profile better, but require a tender touch.

Citrusy Dressing (from the Vegan Gourmet)
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup whole grain or dijon mustard
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs agave nectar
pinch salt
1 tbs olive oil

Lightly dress your greens and add sunflower seeds!

Enjoy the young greens season, and anticipate our upcoming berry season!

1 comment:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Looks like a really fabulous Citrous dressing, must try that one. I've not tried mustard greens ... since I was grown;0)