Step Up Your Greens Game!

13 Jun

Chef Jennifer Booker showcases leafy vegetable in Collard Greens Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette.

When asked about flavor profiles it’s rare to hear folks respond enthusiastically that they “love bitter.” Bitter is one of the four basic tastes that our taste buds identify along with sweet, salty, and sour. Your affinity for bitter is influenced by taste experiences, culture, and environment. Bitter plays several roles—it can signal toxins and something that is dangerous to consume, it can also serve as a stimulant for the appetite and as an aid in digestion.
Vegetables that you’ll find on the bitter list include dark leafy greens such as collard, dandelion, mustard, kale and turnip greens; also, arugula, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  These vegetables are relatively low in calories, and good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

You’ll find many of the greens on the list of soul foods. Leafy greens are versatile and appear in many cuisines. They can be prepared as hot-simmered greens, sautéed greens, salad greens or incorporated into other dishes such as soups, stews, and even snacks like kale chips.

These options are good things to eat and good for you. Whether you choose salad, simmered greens or another dish, bitter foods stimulate the appetite and digestion, can protect against illness and are an aid to your good health.

 Collard Greens Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

2 bunches collard greens, washed, (about 8 cups)

1/2 cup pecan oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup Champagne Vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon local honey

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

Remove stems from collard green leaves.  Roll greens into a tight cylinder, and slice the rolled collard greens into long strips. Place strips in a large bowl. Pour pecan oil on collard strips and sprinkle on salt. Massage* the oil and salt into the strips with your hands until all pieces are well coated, about 5-7 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, ground pepper and honey. Pour dressing over the collard green strips and toss until well coated. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, or overnight.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the garnish just before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

4 servings

Recipe from “Dinner Déjà vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow,”  by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2017 Jennifer Hill Booker.

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