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Mustard Greens with Bacon Recipe
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Every year I experiment with a new vegetable in my garden. Sometimes it's a familiar vegetable that I use often in recipes but never before tried to grow. Sometimes it something completely new and unfamiliar. That was the case this year when I planted mustard greens.
Mustard greens are a superfood, we are told, and we should eat more of them. They're high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and calcium. That's what led me to the Asian cooking greens section in the Seeds of Change catalog when I was making my annual garden order this spring. Then I saw the picture of large, red-veined leaves with a vibrant purple hue. A nutritional powerhouse that rivals the prettiest of backyard blooms? I was sold. I added a packet of Red Giant seeds to my order even though I had never tasted mustard greens, much less cooked with them.
I allowed a couple square feet of valuable real estate in my kitchen garden for this strange new vegetable, right between the beets and the romaine. As my little patch of mustard greens grew, I found the tender baby greens made a fine addition to a salad, providing just the right amount of peppery bite to milder leaf lettuce. But as the greens matured, they became less and less palatable in raw form. I realized I had no idea how to cook mustard greens. It was time to get to work in the kitchen.
I had difficulty finding a recipe for mustard greens. I even posed a question on HubPages about the best way to cook them, which received just one answer (and was a method I already had tried without success). Undaunted, I continued with my culinary experimentation, discovering that the best way to mellow the assertive greens is by braising them, then adding a splash of vinegar to complement their peppery flavor. I added bacon to provide texture to the dish and, well, because everything's better with bacon.
In the end, I was rewarded with a simple, dish of tender greens with loads of flavor and a lot of nutrients. I served them with barbecued chicken legs and grilled sweet potato fries for a healthy, home-style meal.
- Prep time: 20 min
- Cook time: 1 hour
- Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
- Yields: 4 servings
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pound mustard greens, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Drain off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan and return to heat. Add onion and cook until transluscent, about 5 minutes. Add mustard greens one handful at a time, stirring into the onions and bacon fat. After all the mustard greens have been added and are starting to wilt, add chicken broth and salt. Cover pan tightly and turn heat to low. Simmer on low for one hour.
- Remove lid and turn heat to high to evaporate any remaining water in the pan. Remove from heat, stir in balsamic vinegar and cooked bacon, and adjust seasoning.