Melt away winter cares with a kettle of greens

February 28, 1996|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

For one of the most nutritious dining choices of the year, try the vegetables of winter.

Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as collard greens and kale, are abundant and inexpensive and they're an excellent source of beta-carotene.

This meatless recipe takes advantage of the nourishing benefits of collards and kale, which are both members of the cabbage family. Collards have a slightly bitter flavor; kale is sweeter. When cooked together, their flavors enhance each other.

Both vegetables have been prized for centuries in the cooking of Africa, Northern Europe and the American South because they are filling, delicious and low in fat. They are also loaded with vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, iron and dietary fiber.

Most traditional recipes for greens call for slowly stewing the vegetables with salt pork, ham hocks or other fatty cuts of meat. This version contains no meat and, therefore, very little fat and no cholesterol.

However, winter greens are still best if they are cooked slowly. This recipe takes 1 1/2 hours of cooking, but the highly flavored results are worth it.

Winter greens

Makes 10 1/2 -cup servings

1 bunch kale (about 9 cups)

1 bunch collard greens

5 cups water

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

3 red potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Fill a sink or large bowl with cold water. Submerge the kale and collard greens in the water and swish around to dislodge any sand and grit. Empty sink or bowl and repeat washing two more times to thoroughly clean leaves.

Strip leaves off the tough stems. Discard stems and roughly chop leaves; you should have about 18 cups of raw greens.

Place the water in a large kettle and add the greens, onion, garlic, salt and thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the diced potatoes and simmer 30 minutes longer.

Season with the cider vinegar and serve warm with the cooking liquid or "pot liquor."

Note: All greens smell strongly during the initial stages of cooking. However, the smell diminishes and the flavor increases with continued cooking.

Per serving: 103 calories; 4 g protein; 22.8 g carbohydrate; 0.6 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 278 mg sodium.

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