The green things that grow in my Winter garden are stars in my kitchen as well as popping in the browns of the outside landscape. Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli grow so well through the ups an downs in our South Texas “cold” season that it is well worth planting only a few of each just to watch them thrive. These are one of the few vegetables which intensify in color as you cook them (when done properly) and some of the best nutrition we can put on our tables. The simplest cooking techniques produce flavor and color on the plate. Above, small broccoli bunches broken into flowerets and sautéed with garlic in olive oil taste best when cooked only until stalks are tender crisp. I finished this skillet of broccoli with the last of our Meyer lemons. A squeeze of fresh orange is delicious, too.
Swiss Chard is one of my favorite leafy greens, although it vies with kale for first place. It is a garden champion for persistence I have cut leaves from this large plant over and over, and it responds with new ones quickly. It is immensely satisfying to just go out and get the amount I need for a quick side or ingredient. I rinse it, pat it dry, remove the tougher part of the stem end, then either rough chop or roll up the leaves and slice them into strips.
Then I swirl a bit of olive oil into my big copper bottom pan, sizzle 4 or 5 garlic pods briefly, and add the chard. All this uncooked chard barely fits into the big pan, but after sautéing with the garlic, it really is dinner portions for two people.
Drizzle some balsamic or sherry vinegar over the top, and it is ready to serve. Mustard greens, kale, and spinach can be prepared in exactly the same way, although I like to toast a few whole mustard seeds to add to mustard greens
Leftover bits of greens are a great addition to omelets or as a bed for fish or chicken. Last night I used sautéed chard to make some stuffed pasta shells in a recipe which called for spinach. Hardy in the garden, hearty on the table – Winter Greens are lovely.