I’ve tried with ‘lectric fans,
And pools and ice cream cones.
I think I’ll take my skin off
And sit around in my bones.
–from “It’s Hot!” by Shel Silverstein
Yup, it’s hot. And it’s funny how spicy food sometimes tastes good to me on a hot day. The greens mix we planted this year included a couple of different kinds of spicy mustards and I’ve been experimenting with them over the past few weeks, putting them in stir-fries and salads, baking them like kale chips, braising them with vinegar, and sautéing them with spices like cumin and turmeric. Eaten raw and alone, mustard leaves can give your sinuses a good clearing, but cooking mellows them and brings out their subtler flavors.
Mustards come in a variety of shapes and degrees of spiciness. ‘Green Wave’ has a light green leaf with frilled edges like a ruffled collar and a sharp bite that matches the brightness of its leaves. My favorites, red mustards such as ‘Red Giant’ and ‘Purple Osaka,’ have a deeper flavor, with a slightly sour note that makes them great with pork and strongly flavored seasonings. Diane’s favorite, ‘Golden Frills,’ is all frill, with deeply lobed leaves lacing up its stem. It’s flavor is bright like ‘Green Wave’ but not as intense.
When I first grew mustard greens, the only thing I knew to do with them was to put them in sandwiches in place of (you guessed it) mustard. I still love them that way. Later this week we’ll be seeding a new plot that should be ready to harvest in time for tomato sandwich season. But while we’re waiting for those seeds to sprout and for the tomatoes to ripen, here are a few spring mustard recipes:
Burrito with Sri Lankan Mustard Greens (inspired by http://juliasvegankitchen.blogspot.com/2010/07/turnip-greens.html)
1 bunch mustard or other greens such as turnip or kale, de-stemmed and chopped into thin strips
1 medium onion, chopped
cumin seeds (to taste)
1/2 tsp (to taste) red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp (to taste) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (to taste) ground turmeric
salt to taste
1. In a large skillet, heat a couple of teaspoons of oil on medium heat. Add onion, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until the edges of the onion start to brown.
2. Add the shredded greens, turmeric, ground cumin, and salt. Stir and mix well until the greens start to wilt.
3. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until the greens are cooked and tender.
4. Place on top of refried beans in a soft tortilla shell. Wrap tortilla around beans and greens. Bite in!
Mustard Greens with Jalapenos & Pork Sausage (inspired by http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mustard-Greens-with-Chipotle-and-Bacon-238081)
1 bunch mustard greens, cut from their ribs & chopped
A teaspoon or more of minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo OR other hot pepper
Garlic (to taste, optional)
Toasted almond slices
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chiles & garlic. Stir to coat in oil, then add pork sausage (and mushrooms if using them). While the sausage is browning, steam the mustard greens lightly, until they are just wilted but still bright green. When the sausage is cooked through, add the mustard greens to the sauté pan and stir them into the rest of the ingredients until they are cooked down and tender. Serve over couscous and top with toasted almonds.
1 bunch frilled or curly mustard (you could probably use other kinds as well, but the ruffled texture makes for a great crunch)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Cut or tear mustard leaves from ribs and into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in oven until the leaves are crispy. You will need to turn them a couple of times as they bake. The baking time will depend on the thickness of the leaves, but probably is somewhere around 15-20 minutes.