Mustard is probably one of my favorite words in all the English language…. I like the color, the seeds, I like parable, I love the condiment, and I love the vegetable – mustard greens.
When I suggested that we plant mustard seeds for the Spring, I think The SFW (Super Fantastic Wife) thought I was a little off, which is not a far stretch some days. I knew that she had no experience growing mustard greens and I knew that she did not even like eating mustard, the condiment. What she did not know was that I had never grown mustard greens either… and what’s more, I did not have that much experience eating them.
My family generally ate collard and turnip greens when I was growing up and, normally, the greens endured a steamy, spicy braising liquid before reaching the plate. Mustard greens where not a common childhood vegetable. I imagine for two reasons: The first, they are pungently strong, like a grassy horseradish-y flavor. The second, a huge bunch of mustards greens cooks dramatically down to barely a serving for two… and the cost in the market is about the same as for a huge bunch of collards and turnips which yield a higher return after cooking. Since the flavor profile is not one that appeals to children and the cost is higher per serving, I can understand why this green did not always make it to my childhood dinner table.
The flavor profile of mustard greens greatly appeals to my adult palate and growing them at home from seed only costs pennies. The entire mustard green is edible – the seeds, the leaves, and the stems – so there is no waste. Growing mustard greens could not be any easier. Being a member of the cabbage family, mustard greens are a cool season vegetable. The best time to start your crop in South Florida is not during the summer – January and February is best. Once the greens start to grow, harvest weekly to have fresh mustard greens all Spring long.
Mustard greens are a prolific vegetable… the more you harvest the more it grows… and the more the imaginative the ways to serve them become. I dropped a bunch into the braising liquid for the St Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner. I steamed a bunch, combined them with sweet caramelized onions, nutty Gruyere cheese, and baked them into a delectable quiche for brunch. I sautéed a bunch in olive oil with shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes and served them alongside a seared steak. I dropped a few baby mustard green leaves into a mix of baby lettuces, drizzled with a Lemon and Olive Oil Vinaigrette, and topped with salty shards of Parmigiano Reggiano. I cut a bunch into chiffonade and folded them into a creamy risotto of shrimp and saffron. I even went online and found a method to make my own pickled mustard greens once I read about using them as a condiment to Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup. (I knew I had to make the the soup if just to eat the pickled mustard greens.)
My Recipe: Quick and Simple Sautéed Mustard Greens serves 2
1 bunch fresh mustard greens, thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
1 – 2 T olive oil
1 small shallot, sliced
1 garlic, finely minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
fresh cracked black pepper, optional
lemon wedge, optional
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat; add olive oil
Add shallots, sauté until translucent; about 30 seconds
Add red pepper flakes and garlic; sauté for 10 seconds
Add chopped mustard greens; sauté for 10 seconds
Cover pan and remove from heat; let stand for 1 minute; season with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, if using, to taste; and serve with a wedge of lemon, if desired
No matter how you prepare mustard greens their flavor does not fall into the background. They take well to most all methods of cooking and they pair well with flavors that are just as strong like red pepper flakes, Parmigiano Reggiano, saffron, salted and cured beef and pork, and lemon.
Mustard greens will grow into the summer, where their flavor promises to become stronger and more pungent. Most varieties bolt slowly and provide generally provide more than enough seeds to get the crop ready for the next growing season.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!