Still Wild About Greens
I swear, Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas is the most useful cookbook I’ve ever owned. Find yourself impulsively buying greens, regardless of whether you know how to cook them? No? You don’t do that? I don’t believe you. Anyway, if you do end up doing such a thing, all you have to do is look up the green in this book and all of the recipes utilizing it are listed right there. Magnificent. Greens often end up in my house this way. For example, I saw some escarole at the local market a while back and had absolutely no idea how to cook it, having never eaten it or even seen it before. That naturally didn’t stop me from snatching it up. Good thing, too.
Because then I wouldn’t have gotten to eat this pasta with escarole and two beans! The fact that I didn’t have half of the ingredients didn’t stop me either. I was just chatting with a co-worker today about how, when we first started cooking, we would never have thought to change a recipe around. Not have all the ingredients or not like one of them? Guess I wasn’t making it then. I’m so glad I know better now. Regardless of the fact that I didn’t have one of the types of beans this called for, I did have two different types of beans in my cabinet (cannelini and garbanzo!), so in they went. It also called for sun dried tomatoes, but I didn’t have any of those. Luckily, I had bought a lovely little package of local heirloom cherry tomato varieties, so I substituted those. No harm, no foul. They actually made it even lovelier than it would have been, with all their different colors and sizes.
Nava says that escarole is kind of like a really hearty romaine lettuce, and that’s a good way of putting it. It had a really mild flavor, with no trace of the bitterness that occurs in many types of other greens. Also, the stem is edible, so you don’t need to do all that extra work of tearing the leaves off and discarding those woody stems, like with kale or collards. I love greens with edible stems (I’m looking at you, beet greens and swiss chard!); they make me feel much less wasteful.
Another day in the recent past, I stumbled across a package of arugula that was on sale, thus meaning that it was doomed to expire soon. To the greens book! The boyfriend is not a fan of arugula, so I knew that this creation would be all me. And since I can’t stop making soup, I did that again.
This curry arugula soup with chickpeas was not my favorite recipe from the book thus far. Granted, all the recipes I’ve made have been incredibly simple with fresh, but not complex flavor profiles. And I sort of blame the fact that I’ve been learning to cook curries, like real curries, from whole spices, so the last of my store-bought curry powder is tasting a bit lackluster for me lately. Still, it wasn’t bad, just not too exciting. That doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement, I guess… I also think I would have loved it more if I had had help eating on it. If something doesn’t knock your socks off in the beginning, the fact that you then eat it for lunches and dinner for a few days in a row just makes you resent it. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to throw out food just because it’s a little boring, and then just heaves a sigh when I still have three servings left of it.
Anyway. I loved the arugula in it, which was the point. I absolutely will make this again, but using whole spices instead of curry powder (like I did with my old pal Curried Cabbage and Peas).
Today my CSA had mustard greens, which I threw away the last time I tried to cook them because they tasted so horrible, so I’m going to be leafing through the book again when I get home!
Local: escarole, tomatoes, carrots, basil, garlic