A cruise through the farmers’ market in mid-summer will give you the idea that there are six or seven zillion kinds of greens. In reality, though, there are only two: small and big.
Small greens are the tender, salady kind you can eat raw—Romaine, butterhead lettuce, mache. Big greens are the tougher kinds that need to be cooked—kale, chard and collards are the most common, but there are many others. Luckily, with the exception of collards, which need longer cooking times, you can treat them all the same way: Wash them, stem them, chop them, cook them until tender. Here are some tips:
Creamy Polenta with Greens and Roasted Garlic
Don’t be nervous about using this much garlic. Once it’s roasted it become rich and mellow.
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 pinch coarse salt
1 sprig of your favorite herb such as: rosemary, thyme or oregano (optional)
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk
1 cup polenta or yellow stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound spinach leaves, whole
1/2 pound bok choy or fennel, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. To prepare garlic, place peeled garlic cloves in a single layer in a small gratin dish. Pour olive oil over garlic to cover. Sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt. Add a sprig of two of your favorite herb in the oil like rosemary, thyme or oregano in the pan if you like. Roast, uncovered, 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender. Garlic cloves will bubble and almost fry in the oil. Transfer to clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
3. To prepare polenta, place broth and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add polenta, whisking to prevent clumping. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed and polenta is creamy and thoroughly cooked, 5 to 10 minutes. Add cheese, butter and salt, stirring gently until incorporated.
4. To prepare greens, using a slotted spoon, scoop roasted garlic into a very large skillet over medium-high heat. (Save any remaining oil, refrigerated, for later use.) Add bok choy and saute 3 minutes. Add spinach and saute 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Serve over polenta. Serves 4.
Per serving: 408 calories, 16g fat, 25m chol., 19g prot., 50g carbs., 6g fiber, 1210mtg sodium
Recipe by Chef Steven Petusevsky
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn