Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Winter Alternative to Salad

I had commented in a previous post that I find it difficult to eat a lot of salads in the winter.  When the weather is cold, I want warm food.  And without salads my vegetable intake really declines.  Well, quite by accident I stumbled upon a great winter substitute: greens.  When I was growing up my mother made greens for most holiday meals.  They had an Italian twist both in the type of greens that she choose and the meat she used to flavor it with.  She used the shank bone from a prosciutto that she would buy from an Italian deli.  Although that cold cut is still made, they no longer use a piece of meat with the bone included.  The prosciutto you buy today in your local supermarket is make of a boneless piece of meat that will easily slice on their machines.

 My mother's greens were also sort of polorizing.  There were those in the family - immediate and extended who loved the dish and couldn't get enough.  And there were those who wouldn't touch the stuff.  Interestingly that was repeated New Year's day when I presented my twist of greens.  Son #2 wouldn't touch them, son #1 tried a small bite and then went back for more, son #3 wasn't present, but I can tell you with certainty that he would NOT have tried them and probably wouldn't even want the serving bowl near him!

The dish started out this way: my husband wanted boiled cabbage, another family member suggested collard greens (something I never even heard of until I moved "south").  I saw this as an opportunity to try to recreate a bit of my old Italian holiday meals.  So, I made cabbage with collard greens using bacon and onion as the flavoring.  The result was surprisingly tasty!  I could see experimenting with other greens that are readily available here.  You can pack a lot of vegetable servings in a moderate sized bowl of greens!  And since I didn't boil them - they were steamed in the water that sticks to the leaves when you rinse them - most of the nutrients stayed intact. 

I had to look up on the internet how to use collard greens.  So, if anyone is interested:  you don't use the middle vein or stem. They should be rinsed to remove dirt, although mine were pretty clean straight from the store.  They have a lot of flavor and blended well with the more mild cabbage.  A medium head of cabbage and one bunch of collards fed five people.  I would put the recipe here, but instead I'm going to suggest that if indeed there are any readers out there interested - comment or email me and I'll send it to you.

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