The other night when I opened my refrigerator, I was greeted by an eccentric mix of edibles. I had jars of rhubarb pickles, pickled beets, sauerkraut, preserved lemons, diluted coconut milk, and two massive bags of rhubarb crowding the lower shelf. Homemade mayonnaise and mustards, flax oil, hemp oil, cod liver oil, curry pastes, anchovies, and miso crowded the compartments on the door. I had beet kvass, kefir grains, a tiny amount of yogurt, a gnarly nob of fresh horseradish, lots of eggs, two kinds of hummus from the food swap, three (three!!!) varieties of homemade rhubarb sauces, and one package of elk pork sausage on other shelves. In my crisper drawer, I found a stray bulb of kohlrabi, lots of spinach, 1 bunch of kale, 2 stalks green garlic, and the requisite carrots and celery.
My generally spastic lack of meal and ingredient planning seemed to be exhibiting itself in full form. Goodness gracious. I looked at that colorful assortment and wondered what in the world I would make for dinner. I had a ton of food, but it was all unusual. A woman can't live on rhubarb or fermented vegetables alone (although the last few weeks, I've been awfully close).
I wasn't terribly hungry, so I defaulted to sauteed greens, dotted with onions, those green garlic stalks, and oily, rich black Moroccan olives. Those olives absolutely win me over, day or night, and I thought they would add a wonderful richness to light spring greens. I added a little broth, a little splash of balsamic vinegar, and - voila - a beautiful dinner was made!
And, as a side note, while the greens cooked, I managed to eat a buckwheat muffin, snack on some cashews, and finished up two of the waning rhubarb sauces. I served them over leftover yogurt on different sides of the bowl. Geez. So much for not feeling "hungry". I felt like a fancy compost pile, absorbing whatever tasty foods needed to be cleaned out of the fridge! Finally settling down with a big bowl of these greens was a delightful end to my rather, uh, scattered dinner.
Braised Greens with Black Olives
Yield: 2-4 servings
You could easily substitute either the spinach or kale with equivalent amounts of another dark leafy green, such as Swiss chard, collards, dandelion greens, or mustard greens. I would recommend getting oil-cured Moroccan black olives, as the recipe calls for, if making this recipe. They have a very rich rich, oily, figgy, salty flavor that sets them apart from their conventional brine-packed black olive cousins. Find them at co-ops, natural foods stores, gourmet markets, or middle Eastern markets. They will not be packed in brine, and are considered a "dry" olive. Sometimes you can find these dry olives packed with thyme, Herbes de Provence, garlic, or red pepper flakes - any of those flavors would also work very well. If you cannot find Moroccan oil-cured olives, you could always substitute kalamata olives, which will have a very different flavor but will be better for this recipe than canned black or green olives.
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 stalks green garlic or 2 small leeks
- 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured Moroccan black olives
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, divided
- 3 cups packed fresh spinach
- 3 cups packed fresh kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
- pinch aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice)
Slice onion. Trim the long, darker green leaves off the garlic stalk, and finely slice the head and light green portions of the stalk. Finely chop the pitted black olives.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onion and green garlic (or leeks) and saute for 5 minutes. Then add olives and 1/2 cup broth, stir, cover, and braise for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing cover. Onions should be quite tender at this point. Add greens on top of onions, add remaining broth, and cover. Braise for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until greens are tender. Then remove cover and let cool for 3-5 more minutes, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat and sprinkle with aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes and balsamic or lemon, if using. Serve warm.