I know….I keep springing these gorgeous green heads with thick stems on you. Whether its Napa, Bok Choy or Pac Choi…remember that they can be used interchangeably. They are delicious raw or lightly cooked and even light cooking reduces them to almost nothing. While a little sweet and mustardy on their own, they are magic sauce holders so let them drink up tamari and sesame oil heaping with ginger and green onions or coconut and thai curry paste or peanut sauce rich with garlic. Some of these are ready made by Wozz in our farm-stand and make a super quick dinner in a half hour or less. Pick up rice noodles or rice if you don’t have them in the pantry. And boil those while you are chopping and sauteeing some protein (tofu, thinly sliced beef or chicken, shrimp or white fish)…take off the heat and toss in your thinly sliced Asian greens, a Wozz sauce and you have dinner.
Now that I’ve covered the Asian greens, I’m turning to Escarole. Again. I know that bitter greens are not everyone’s favorite, but they are delicious when prepared right and are so good for the body, especially as we head into HOLIDAY time where between Halloween and Christmas we immerse ourselves in rich, sweet decadence and our bodies pay the price. I love the following soup, especially this time of year. I make my own stock with all the leftover veggie bits stored in a gallon freezer bag and then do a Sunday soup day when the bag gets full. This soup balances the escarole bitter with creamy beans and the rich taste of Parmesan.
1 tbsp.extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional
1 head escarole, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
4 c. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 c. water
2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 Parmesan rind, or 1 (1-oz.) piece of Parmesan
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, celery, and leek and cook until slightly soft, 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add escarole and stir until wilted completely. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add broth, water, beans, parmesan rind and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally, mashing some beans (about 1/3 of them) in the pot to thicken soup. Let simmer 15 minutes, then stir in lemon juice.
- Garnish with Parmesan before serving.