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Bitter greens suggestions

I've become very adept at making next-to-perfect sauteed broccoli rabe, which I often serve alongside red meat or with pasta.

However, I'd like to broaden my bitter greens horizons and cook something else. I'm not just asking *which* bitter greens I should cook--rather, I'm hoping you chowhounds could tell me exactly how you prepare them and what you like to serve them with.

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

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  1. my favorite use for broccoli rabe is with orecchiette and sausage, recipe loosely adapted from Lidia Bastianich. I don't like dried orecchiette and make it fresh by hand (2 cups semolina flour, 2 tbsp olive oil, enough water for form a dough that holds together, knead till smooth--like your earlobe--then roll into 3/4"-thick snakes, cut in 3/4" increments, and shape by pressing your thumb firmly into dough, wrapping edges of dough around thumb, then inverting onto opposing index finger; toss completed orecchiette with more flour), I brown some broken-up Italian sausage, add chopped broccoli rabe, and add chicken stock and simmer till everything is well cooked; separately boil the orecchiette in salted water till almost al dente, drain and toss into the meat-greens mixture and cook 1-2 minutes to absorb some stock, then finish with grated pecorino romano, salt, pepper.

    3 Replies
    1. re: akowit

      sounds tasty. I learned my sauteed greens technique from Lidia's book and TV show, but I tend to make it only as a side dish.

      I ought to incorporate it into a hearty pasta entrée like you suggest. Thanks

      1. re: Yaqo Homo

        I do something similar but often add beans (romano). If I am not taking the time to brown meat / simmer sauce, just a quick olive oil/garlic thing, maybe with some prosciutto, I might add the rapini to the pasta water in the last few minutes of cooking. The main advantage here is speed.

        1. re: Yaqo Homo

          Raab is really great in this combo. I would add a touch of red pepper flakes, but it's certainly not necessary. Turkey sausage is good too.

      2. recently i made jumbo shells stuffed with escarole, sausage and fresh ricotta:
        --chop 1 large head escarole into ribbons and cook it in chicken stock; drain it
        --bake 2 lbs. sausage in the oven (less mess); it was hand-made hot pork sausage from an italian butcher
        --cool the sausage and crumble it in the food processor
        --cook the jumbo pasta shells VERY al dente, drain and toss with oil (DO NOT RINSE)
        --combine sausage, escarole and (16 oz. fresh made)ricotta in a large bowl
        --also added chopped parsley, cooked chopped onion, minced fresh thyme, red pepper flakes and some grated romano cheese
        --added 2 beaten raw eggs and mixed everything well
        --used a big spoon to stuff the shells, which lined a well-oiled casserole dish
        --sauce with tomato bechamel, top with smoked mozzarella and bake about 20 minutes at 400.

        guests loved it.

        escarole, white bean and sausage soup is great in winter.

        i also really like arugula and watercress with eggs or stirred into lentils with some bacon.

        these greens are also really nice stirred into warm cheesy rice.

        basically, anyplace you'd use spinach, try a bitter green.

        1. As this is in "Home Cooking", I'm astonished noone has mentioned collard greens. A soul food staple!

          Cook them with onions, bacon or pork fat (this is a good use for cheap fatty bacon you wouldn't want for breakfast) and brown sugar or molasses. This really turns their bitterness into loveliness.

          I make them when my S.O. makes slow-cook BBQ. Also good with any spicy main dish.

          5 Replies
          1. re: demimonde

            How long do you cook them? Do you quick-cook the greens, or do you do the southern slow-slow-simmer thing?

            1. re: Sharuf

              Slow-slow simmer, of course! I'm a huge fan of Southern cooking, and, honestly, it's less work to slow cook. Literally leave it on the back burner and spend your time on other dishes. Besides, we're not talking chard, here. Collard greens are tough and bitter. They need time to soften properly.

              1. re: demimonde

                Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm making a vaguely southern-themed dinner tonight, so I'm soaking some collards in the sink as we speak.

                I'm going to cook them up with pancetta, red onions, brown sugar and vinegar and let them simmer for at least 90 minutes. I've never done collards before, so wish me luck.

                1. re: Yaqo Homo

                  Sounds delish! I'm sending country-fried luck your way as we speak!

                  Note: Don't add the vinegar until the very end. Apple cider vinegar is good. Hot pepper vinegar is even better.

              2. re: Sharuf

                Collard are generally too tough to wilt and require more cooking.

            2. Ha, this is the 2nd time today I've posted this link, but it really is delicious!

              Sweet and Sour Greens with Quince and Pomegranate:

                1. Kale and Pork Chops

                  1. Is bitter gourd available to you? I cut them in half, dig out the seeds and attched fiber, stuff with a mixture of ground pork; chopped onion, garlic, clintro, ginger; chili; dabs of soy sauce and fish sauce. Steam until the gourd is tender.

                    1. A couple of days ago, I seared a head of radicchio, cut in wedges, in olive oil, then sprinkled over some provolone cheese (what I had in the house) balsamic vinegar and garlic and put a lid on -- yummy! This was based on a Deborah Madison recipe I got somewhere.

                      I also recently tried Batali's stuffed escarole recipe -- a bit messier than it sounded in the recipe, but delicious -- http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                      1. Italian Greens- with escarole (a favorite in the Utica/Syracuse area):
                        Italian Greens

                        1-2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes cut in 1” cubes
                        1⁄2 t. dried parsley
                        1⁄2 t. ea. Onion & garlic powder
                        1⁄2 t. paprika
                        1/2 chopped onion
                        6 minced garlic cloves
                        2 heads escarole (rinsed twice and chopped)
                        1/2 cup olive oil
                        1/2 t. crushed red pepper
                        8oz. chicken broth
                        4 oz. thinly sliced hard salami (or proscuitto)
                        1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
                        1⁄2 cup Romano or Parm cheese
                        freshly chopped parsley

                        1. Potatoes: Toss in bag with 1⁄4 cup olive oil, dried parsley, garlic and onion powder and paprika. Roast for 1⁄2 hour at 350. Set aside.
                        2. Greens: Sauté garlic and onion in 2-3 T olive oil; add chopped escarole and cook through. Add chicken broth, julienned salami, crushed red pepper and potatoes. Simmer till stock reduced (about 45 min).
                        3. Combine bread crumbs with 2 T oil. Toast until brown. Mix half with greens.
                        4. Add Romano cheese to greens and place in greased baking pan.
                        5. Top with remaining half of crumbs.
                        6. Bake in oven at 350 for 15 min.
                        7. Garnish with parsley

                        ****You can substitute prosciutto for salami, or substitute cannelloni beans or cooked pasta (I like hats) for the potatoes. Some like to add chopped cherry peppers also, but thats a little spicy for my kids.

                        1. Bitter greens (mustard, collard, turnip, beet, kale, rabe) are a staple at my house. This weekend I made BBQ ribs, oven-baked sweet potato fries and collard greens.

                          Dinosaur kale is probably my current favorite. Like others have mentioned, they are lovely sauteed with carmelized onions, bacon/pancetta/salt pork, or garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes (sugar and vinegar in the case of collards). And they pair beautifully with legumes, pasta or potatoes, including sweet potatoes. I like to add them to soups and stews or quiches.

                          A quick meatless main dish is kale sauteed with (lots of) garlic, EVOO, carmelized onion (optional), red pepper flakes and liberal grindings of black pepper. Add cannelloni beans when the greens are almost ready... it should be a bit soupy, let cook a bit so the beans can absorb the flavor of the broth. I usually add some fresh garlic at this point to brighten up the flavor. Serve with macaroni or pasta of your choice with some parmesan. PS - use some of the pasta water to give the greens and bean's sauce a bit of body.