Monday, April 18, 2011

A Mess 'O Greens

That expression is very southern to me, and I'm sure I've heard it or seen it on a menu somewhere, who knows where. I'm a transplanted southerner, although there are varying degrees of "southernness" of course. Raised and educated in Virginia, I lived in the Washington, D.C. area for six years before hopscotching across this great land of ours and finally settling in Georgia for the last ten years. So at this point I guess you could say I am southern.

When I cleared out the dregs of my winter garden, collards, broccoli and cauliflower, I took one look at the disparate elements of my harvest and said, "A mess 'o greens" to myself. So that is what I made.

This harvest was my first from a winter garden, and was very much an experiment. Truth be told, I was pretty lazy with it -- sometimes I forgot to turn on the water, I did not fertilize or enhance the soil with compost and I was a wussie about the cold weather -- so my broccoli responded in kind:

Still, puny as my winter bounty might have been, none of it went to waste, and I did indeed receive more than enough for a "mess 'o greens"

I love the education I am getting through this experience. At first the collard leaves were not bitter after the plants began to flower, but I did find the bitterness increased with each passing week. So next year I will harvest at the first sign of a blossom. On the other hand, the fertile parts of the plants turned out to be tender, flavorful and mild. The lovely blossoms were not the only fertile parts I am referring to. Look what else I found on the collard plants:

Geez! Doesn't that look scary! But the more closely I looked, I realized these "seed pods" actually resembled very small and tender haricots verts, or young green beans. With trepidation, I popped one into my mouth to test the flavor. It would have been a shame to spoil the flavor of my whole "mess 'o greens" with an unproven element. Ironically, these little seed pods, along with the yellow blossoms, turned out to be the most delicious parts of my "mess".

The only parts of the harvest not consumed were the woody stems of the plants. I just sauteed everything else in some olive oil and earth balance, along with a sliced shallot.

I ate my "mess" with "Beefless Stroganoff" (see archives of "A Midlife Vegan" for recipe) and barley.

The Beefless Stroganoff was CRAZY delicious, even better than the first time I created it! I think it was better because I didn't have an unopened bottle of white wine, and I am still desirous of detoxing a bit from the vacation, so, instead of opening a new bottle for the recipe, I just used a splash of cooking sherry that was already open instead. The subtly sweet, rich flavor was amazing in the vegan cream sauce with nutmeg. I will definitely make it this way from now on!

The texture of the barley, springy and light, was lovely with the stroganoff. I prepared it simply with a vegan bouillon cube and about a tablespoon of tomato paste added to the boiling water.

I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner last night, slight bitterness of the greens and all. It was very gratifying to pull my nutrition from the earth!


  1. A-mazing looking meal! Btw, where do you find the Gardien "beef" tips in your store? I've looked and can't find them in my whole foods. I see Gardien "beef" BBQ skewers, but I want just plain "beef" tips like you talked about in your original recipe. I know it varies from state to state and store to store, but just asking.......

  2. Thanks Emily! I got my Gardein "Beefless Tips" at Kroger, but they were not in the health-food refrigerator section where the Gardein "Scallopini" is. I found them around the corner in the health food freezer section, next to Amy's burritos.

  3. Never thought to look in the frozen section! Thanks, I'll look today!