Winter Greens

Kale for the win

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Shortly before the first major storm of the new year swooped in to cover my vegetable garden with six inches of snow and send the temperatures plummeting, I spent a couple of hours harvesting many of the remaining greens that had been planted during warmer months.

By the time I was finished, I had unearthed more than a dozen leeks and collected sizable mounds of curly and dinosaur kale, spinach greens, the last of the rainbow chard, and bunches of hardy parsley. While I was out there, I also clipped some thyme, sage and vestiges of oregano for good measure.

Back in the kitchen, I separated the herbs and set them out to dry on a tray on top of the refrigerator and gave the rest of the greens a cold rinse in the sink before placing them on top of paper towels in a giant Tupperware container.

When the skies darkened and the snow started falling, I relied on this gargantuan tub of vegetation to augment a number of meals during the course of the following week.

On a chilly weekday morning, I sauteed the spinach greens with a couple of leeks, garlic and cremini mushrooms for a seasonal breakfast scramble. Lunchtime saw me substituting lettuce for kale in savory BLTs. I also used the kale in a hearty minestrone soup—which was topped with chopped parsley—and for a winter salad with pomegranate vinaigrette dressing served alongside mashed potatoes and a roasted chicken I had added a smattering of thyme and sage to before cooking.

The next day, I used the leftover potatoes and chicken to make a sort of cottage pie, to which I then added chopped kale and cheddar and parmesan cheeses. I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then set the broiler for another five minutes to add crispiness.

Making sure the leftover chicken carcass didn’t go to waste, I next used my Instant Pot to make soup stock by covering the leftover bird with water and adding onion, celery, carrots and even more herbs and cooking everything on high for 45 minutes. It’s now in the fridge awaiting the next recipe that calls for stock.

After all of this, you’d think I’d be out of seasonal supplies. That’s not the case, however. The chard and spinach are long gone, but I’ve still got plenty of kale and parsley to work with, and the sage and thyme remain plentiful.

Having garden-fresh greens on hand in the middle of January isn’t something I’d ever complain about. This week, I may use them in tacos or to add to yet another soup, or search out other in-season vegetables to pair them with. Now that the roads are clear again, it’s safe to venture out for edible inspiration.

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