Continuing my ode to autumn harvest at local farmers, this post features yet another new ingredient for me; red mustard greens. When I brought them home from the greenmarket, they were almost three feet long and very heavy, a simply gorgeous bundle. However, difficult to photograph entirely. So, this shot above shows some of the best features of the greens. Their gorgeous combination of green and purple veined leaves, the pretty little seed pods and flowers, the intensity of their shape and form.... what you can't get (hopefully the brainiacs in Silicon Valley are working on technology to do this) is the the incredible smell and taste sensory experience. I bit off a little taste of the leaf and my mouth exploded with the flavor of mustard. I tried a seed directly, raw and it brought tears to my eyes. Both for the joy of discovery and the bite of the flavor -- yes, it ran up my nasal passages just like horseradish or wasabi does -- I was weeping. After feeding some to Mr. Scrumptious and forcing him to guess what it was with some very heavy hinting of course, I decided a simple rather than elaborate treatment was how to highlight this gorgeous flavor.
So, I made a quick little side dish with the greens. The recipe was easy; the process was fun. One of the best parts was when I quickly blanched the greens. To my chagrin the gorgeous purple/red/burgundy color leaked out of the greens but low and behold, it colored the water! So, of course I documented it for all of you.
It was beautiful! Sadly, blanching or cooking the greens, removed more of the mustard flavor than I anticipated. They looked a little tough so I didn't want to go with sauteing them directly on my first try. Next time, I will boldly do that. I had done a little reading of recipes online and most of them originate in the Southern U.S. and they often boiled the greens totally. I decided to blanch and then saute. But, I think next time around I won't pre-cook them at all. Also, after it was too late, I realized I should have saved the water and done something creative with that. So, if any of you make this dish please reserve the water and share with me any exciting results or discoveries of what it can do. I did remember to save the tough stems and stalks, so I'll use them in a hearty stew or soup, I'm sure.
My final dish was very simple, here's how it looked and what I did:
4 cups chopped red mustard greens with seeds
2 shallots chopped
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 sweet Italian sausages or veggie sweet Italian sausage (that's what I used) cut in diagonal chunks
Bring a large pot to boil, add a pinch or three of kosher salt. Blanch the red mustard greens 3-4 minutes and drain. Heat a deep heavy-bottom pan or skillet and add the olive oil, heat to saute making sure the pan is well-coated. Add the shallots and saute, making sure they don't go dark brown yet. Add in the blanched mustard greens and saute on high temperature adding more olive oil if necessary. You're aiming to make the greens a little crispy without going dark brown or stringy. Saute for about 5 minutes. Toss in the veggie sausage and heat thoroughly a couple more minutes. Remove pan and serve immediately.
If you were using pork, beef or other meat sausages, of course you'd thoroughly cook your sausages first and only toss them in the last minute to re-heat after they were already cooked and drained.