A couple of weeks ago, I found a new way to cook greens, thank goodness. Somewhere along the line I learned to wilt anything semi-sturdy and green and sauté it in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. It’s a delicious method, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that I have been in a rut with it since mid-2004.
Mustard greens, in my experience, don’t take as well to my standard treatment, inspiring me to unearth some alternative recipes for them over the years. Unfortunately, given my lack of discipline in keeping a kitchen notebook (or notebook of any kind), I have no idea what they were. (Seriously, this kills me. Do you at least scribble in your cookbooks? I always resolve to do it and then get lazy, with irritating consequences. For instance, recently I saw a recipe for white beans with gorgonzola in the Dean & Deluca Cookbook. The authors make big claims for it, and I know that at some point in the last few years it was on my list. But did I ever make it? Who knows? I either made it and was not impressed or got distracted and forgot all about it, since my “to-cook” list is also a pretty casual affair.) Earlier this month when I tried something new and wonderful with mustard greens, I promised myself not to fail to write it down. This is in keeping with my usual experience of the first three months of the year: January is for relaxing and nesting, February is for getting your act together and keeping resolutions, and March is for starting to exercise again, not so much because spring’s bare arms are approaching but because by March you need those endorphins.
Anyway: mustard greens with rice, adapted from the recipe for spinach with rice in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, the cookbook that (almost) never lets me down. I love the bright lemony flavor of this dish, especially with a spoonful of yogurt stirred in at the end: it’s quite different from my spicy-garlicky-oily greens. As the author points out, this is mostly greens; the rice is only there to thicken and bind the cooking liquid, so don’t expect a big bowl of greens and rice. This served 2 as a side dish.
If your bunch of mustard greens (about 3/4 pounds, at least at Whole Foods) is attached at the base, separate the leaves and wash well. Bring 6 cups water to a rolling boil and drop in the greens. Cook until just wilted, 2-5 minutes (check at 2 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water; leave in a colander to drain as much as possible.
Put 2 cups water in a wide pot and bring to a boil. Add 6 scallions, cut crosswise into fine rings all the way up to the green section, 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons Arborio (or other medium-grain) rice. Cook over medium-high, stirring now and then, for 10-12 minutes, until the rice is just done and the liquid in the pot has become a thick little sauce. Add the drained greens and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and serve hot, adding more lemon juice as desired. I like almost anything better with a spoonful of plain yogurt stirred in, and this is no exception.