It’s definitely grasshopper season. So much to do and see and play with. Who wants to tote and till and thresh when the music is playing? DANCING IS SO FUN. Threshing? Not so much.
We’ve had a wetter summer season than my area of the map has seen in years, along with a handsome run of sunny days in among the rain drops.
As a result, greens are leaping out of gardens in fat, succulent bunches. Maybe you have no garden or jungle-like weather conditions where you are; even so, CSA shares and shopping at farmer’s markets with eyes that are bigger than your available hours can also lead to a greens overload in the crisper.
Before slime descends and you are forced to slide that lettuce into the compost or trash, consider taking a few simple steps to make you and your army of ants pretty content when winter settles back down, and still leave time for dancing.
Here is the revolutionary, game-changing greens management tip that can be yours today if you ACT NOW and just keep reading.
Blanch it. If it’s green, blanch it. Blanch them all, all together. Mix AllTheGreenThings you have, and blanch them.
Even if it is an herb you usually use fresh, like dill or cilantro, and even if it is—brace yourself—lettuce, include it, and blanch it. Then whang it into the food processor, and mince it all up.
You can season it, if you like, in the manner of this green stuff I have been making for years and years in an attempt to turn back the clock to a simpler time , or you can leave it basically plain, ready to adapt itself to whatever mood you are in come January or February.
Seasoned, it is happy on your avocado toast (or some less hip sandwich), or on a cracker with cheese, or tossed with hot pasta and butter or cream, or stirred into soup–think of it as pesto’s mild-mannered cousin. It may not look like much now, as you spoon it into containers destined for the deep freeze, but come winter’s deepest days, it will be easy money. If you are cooking up (as I often am, in the winter) a package of frozen spinach, stirring in a good-sized glob of this will bring summer light to that dark dining room and also save you about ten steps in terms of seasoning the proceedings. Glob it onto pizza, or among the layers of a lasagna, or into your frittata–are you seeing the wisdom here? Thin it with stock and maybe some cream and it is soup. Etc. Ad inf. And so on.
There’s hardly a recipe for this, more a set of basic principles. Make as much or as little as you feel like dealing with or have room to store.
You’ll need all your big bunches of greens, garlic, salt and olive oil.
What greens to use? I’ve been making bank with lamb’s quarters, kale, chard, spinach, purslane, cilantro, dill, parsley (I find that so hard to spell), arugula and big fat heads of lettuce. Beet greens would work. Carrot tops could get involved. I’ve added some basil. Stronger flavors like dill and cilantro get mellowed by the blanching, and by combining them with utterly mild things like lettuce. Cooked lettuce, which sounds awful when you are not talking about a grilled romaine heart or that French thing with the peas and five kilos of butter, becomes a pleasant, harmonizing back note. You are very unlikely to make a combination that tastes unpleasant as long as none of the stronger greens dominates in terms of quantity.
Clean your greens. Dirt is not what you miss eating when the snow flies, so make sure you clean them well. In the case of sturdy greens like kale and chard, remove the main rib and set aside; I’ve heard of people chopping those fine and blanching them to freeze separately, to add to soups, etc. Your call. I know a rabbit named Henry and so far he’s been the beneficiary.
Have a big colander ready in the sink.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a teaspoon of salt. When it is at a rolling boil, add the sturdiest of your greens, such as the kale. Add a whole, peeled clove of garlic per bunch or two of greens. Once the kale wilts down, add the rest of the greens for the briefest of cookings, basically just until they wilt and the color turns, ending with the mildest–lettuce basically gets thrown in right before I pull everything else out.
Pull the greens and garlic out with tongs to the colander (reserving the water in the pot for the moment) and immediately shock the greens with cold water to stop the cooking. Press a bit of the water out, but don’t squeeze them dry. Chop coarsely, eyeballing the quantity you have, and drop into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to break them down, then add (per 2 cups of cooked greens) about 1/4 cup of olive oil and up to 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and continue pulsing to make a thick, coarse puree.
Pack this into 1/2 to 1 cup containers and freeze for future happiness. If there is a distinctive note–it’s very dilly, or you used a really big bunch of arugula, eg–then I’d note that on the label.I used to count on myself to remember what was in every container but as time goes on that confidence is misplaced, to say the least.
To make a green spread for your present delight, follow this set of pointers, adding a little more olive oil and seasoning the puree with capers or preserved lemon, a handful of nuts or seeds (presently obsessed with hemp hearts, but almonds, walnuts or pine nuts would also do fine), and, if you believe in such things, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.