Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not-yo-mama's Mixed Greens

What could be better than a vegetable garden? A friend with a garden!
My dear friend Pat brought me a grocery bag full of greens today: beet greens, turnip greens, radish greens. They were the prettiest mess of greens I’ve ever seen (in the South, they’re a “mess” if there’s enough for the whole family). Pat’s greens were young, tender, not a blighted spot anywhere. Just perfectamous. We had a horribly hot and dry summer that was hard on Pat’s garden, but the fall has brought rewards to her patient sowing and hoeing.
I washed the greens carefully in a sink full of cold water, even though they looked spotless, just in case a little grit had clung to them.
The volume of greens called for my big 6 qt. Dutch oven. In they went with about a cup of water, seasonings, and in about a half hour, ooh-la-la! They had cooked down from filling the pot to about 2 inches of green goodness in the bottom of the kettle.
Warning for the greens newbie: greens give off an aroma that can smell just… awful! These really smelled horrific to me, even though my husband thought they smelled good. But when I tasted them, wow, I've never had any better, thanks to the picked-the-same-day freshness.
Each batch of greens you cook will be different. The type of greens, the size, age, and even whether the greens have been through a frost affects their flavor. (Greens such as collards that have been through frost are considered to be sweeter.) Experiment with the seasonings below as a guide, and add more or less to your taste.
If you’ve never had greens, give them a try!
Greens, the Not-Yo-Mama’s Way
 (Southern mamas sometimes overcook greens by about 6 hours!)
Fresh greens: collards, kale, spinach, beet, turnip, radish, whatever is in the farmer’s market, enough to fill a 6 qt. pot. Wash the greens thoroughly in plenty of cold water and cut off any tough stems. I leave greens whole, un-chopped. Some people prefer to coarsely chop greens. No need to dry the greens after their bath.
1 cup water
2 cloves chopped fresh garlic or 1 teaspoon jarred roasted garlic
2 slices lean bacon
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, or to taste (it has salt in it, so take that into account if you are watching your salt intake) (if you don't have Tony use herbes de provence with a dash of salt, black and red pepper)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring the greens to a boil; lower the heat to a simmer. Add the butter. Let the greens cook about half an hour, stirring occasionally, making sure the greens don’t simmer dry (add a little more water if needed).
Serve with cornbread, pinto beans, and sliced raw onion for a real Southern meal. My hubbie has taught me to spoon some of the pot liquor from the greens onto my cornbread. Ummy.
Y’all enjoy! 


  1. I've only ever eaten greens in Jamaica, and I won't pretend to know the magic mixture of spices that make eaten-next-to-the-beach callaloo taste so good. Cajun spice and butter on a plate of wilted spinach, though? Yum!

  2. Magic mixture sounds heavenly to me. Isn't Callaloo the title of a literary journal for some university, also? Love that word. Callaloo. I will look for excuses to use that word today!

  3. I love greens! Your version sounds good...I typically cook them like my mama does. :)

  4. Awh, thanks. I don't turn down greens any way they're cooked. Saw collards in the store yesterday and smiled!