Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eat Your Greens!

But I'm telling you the same I tell kings and queens:
Don't ever never ever mess around with my greens!

Those words, in a hilarious rap by the witch in the 1986 musical, Into the Woods, stay with me every time I buy greens. In that scene a man sneaks over the witch's wall to steal greens for his pregnant wife, who is craving them. The witch catches the man and forces them to give up their child in exchange for the greens. The baby is born, and relinquished to the witch, who eventually locks her in a tall tower and climbs up her hair to visit her. The girl's name? Rapunzel, of course!

During my pregnancies the opposite was true; the thought of any green vegetables made me turn green. We had a beautiful lettuce patch in our yard when I was pregnant with my first, and I couldn't touch it. It was such a shame, all those beautiful baby lettuces, too much for my husband to eat alone, going to waste.

Now, realizing the nutritional value of greens, especially the dark, leafy kind, I try to serve them often. Chock full of vitamins A and C, iron and fiber, greens could be considered a super food. The farmers' markets are full of them this time of year and this Sunday I saw spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy and more. But bitter foods (as most greens are) are not my favorites, so I try to prepare them in a way that makes them more palatable to me. Long braising, stir frying and concealing them in other foods (lasagna, for example) are some of the ways I like to eat my greens.

Tonight we will be having a soup with greens I purchased at the farmers' market (the lady told me it was mustard greens, but it looks more like kale to me), slices of white, butter potatoes and smoked sausage. This soup is served often on the East Coast, where large populations of Portuguese fishermen settled. It is thick and hearty, almost like a stew and it is traditionally prepared with chouri├žo or linguisa, but I had kielbasa on hand, so I will use that. Add a loaf of warm crusty bread, and you have a perfect meal for a cold night....if only it was cold. Ah, well...

Portuguese Kale Soup

1 pound of sausage, sliced (chouri├žo, linguisa or keilbasa all work fine)
3-4 large, waxy potatoes
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 bunch of greens
1 can of cannelloni beans, rinsed (optional)
8 C chicken stock
Handful of Parmesan cheese

Drizzle olive oil into dutch oven and saute sausage over medium heat until browned. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, wash potatoes well and slice them into 1/4 inch circles. If they are very large, halve the circles. Wash greens well and tear them into bite-sized pieces, discarding any rough stems. Add potatoes, greens, beans, and chicken stock to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve in large bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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