I love to grow mustard greens. They are easy, tolerating excessive heat, drought, and even the flea beetles that seem to covet them. They are frilly and bright, and one planting yields a harvest that lasts several weeks. At market, however, mustard greens are a tough sell. Most people pick them up, raise an eyebrow, and then put them back in favour of something more familiar.
Mustard greens are members of the Brassica family, which also contains broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. They are ranked high on the podium of healthy veggies; they contain vitamins, chemicals and antioxidants that can lower cholesterol, help prevent cancer, and reduce inflammation. One cup of cooked mustard greens contains over 900% of your daily Vitamin K requirements, 96% of your Vitamin A needs, and almost half of the recommended Vitamin C.
But what to do with mustard greens? They’re actually quite easy to use. Mustard greens are lumped into the group of plants sold as “Asian greens”. As their name suggests, the flavour is a bit spicy – a nice change from the blander greens like spinach and Swiss chard. The smaller leaves work well in a salad ( the bigger ones, too, if you massage them), especially as part of a lettuce mix. The larger leaves are best cooked and work well in soups, stews and stir fries. Mustard greens hold their own as a side dish, too. Serve them up with a little crumbled bacon and a whole lot of garlic. Here’s how.
Sauteed Mustard Greens with Bacon
- 3 strips of bacon (substitute ground almonds or nutritional yeast for a vegetarian version)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 2 bunches of mustard greens
- salt to taste
- 1 lemon + zest of 1/2 lemon
-Slice the washed greens into 1/2 inch pieces. Squeeze a little lemon juice on them and toss to distribute it evenly. Let sit for 5 minutes. This process helps to activate some of the healthy enzymes.
-In a heavy frying pan cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan and drain the grease. (If you’re using almonds instead, toast them lightly in a dry frying pan before grinding. Don’t cook the nutritional yeast.)
-Add olive oil and shallot to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the shallot becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly.
-Add the mustard greens and zest to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Sauté stirring frequently, until leaves just begin to wilt.
-Plate the mustard greens and squeeze a little lemon juice onto them. Crumble the bacon, or sprinke almonds or yeast over the greens and serve immediately.