Greens with Tomatoes, Capers, and Herbs

This flavorful bowl of stick-to-your-ribs heaven is infinitely versatile and super-healthy. A greens-based, meal-in-a-bowl, it has proven itself in all three staples from my garden: Lacinato, Champion Collards, and my absolute fav, Ruby Red Chard. It is deliciously different with Baby Bok Choy, and I’ve tried Georgia Collards, too.

This recipe is for a single, hearty and ample serving. Cook and dine from the same large, one-quart, soup bowl―bachelor style. You’ll get four-star flavor from the microwave. Tweak it for any combination of your favorite greens, herbs, and protein.

If you’re using Ruby Red Chard, then don’t you dare throw away those stems! I can’t believe I used to throw them away. There’s tons of flavor in there. Prepare for an unbelievable aroma.

Same deal for the lacinato stems. Collards stems don’t seem to have the same level of flavor, so they’re optional.

If you’re cooking your stems, then wash your greens in advance. For large leaves, for example Georgia collards that are ten inches across, I use four to six leaves. There’s an inverse square law at work here, so if you’re harvesting your own and the leaves are half that size, five inches across, then you’ll need four times as many leaves, maybe fifteen to twenty.

Sautee 1/3 cup of coarsely-chopped yellow onion in two tablespoons EV olive oil, from a freshly-opened bottle.

If you’re cooking your stems, chop them into paper-thin slices and throw them in there with the onions.

The key here is even cooking, achieved by dividing the cooking time into several brief rounds of cooking and stirring. I cook for a mere 30 seconds, then stir, then another 30 seconds, stir, and so on. Maybe three rounds with onions only, until they’re just starting to turn translucent. Maybe two extra rounds if you’ve added your stems.

Next add four cloves of garlic, either finely-chopped or pressed. You’ll need maybe three or four more brief rounds of cooking and stirring to ensure that you’ve cooked the garlic.

After washing, spin your greens thoroughly. Then, toss them in the spinner, and spin again, to get them as dry as you can. You’ll have plenty of delicious broth from the other ingredients. You’ll want to get that plain water off the leaves, to avoid diluting that amazing broth.

Next, coarsely chop the tomatoes. Two large Roma tomatoes should do it. A one-pound beefsteak is a bit big, so maybe one 12-oz tomato for a larger portion.

Add one heaping teaspoon of capers to the bowl. Then add the tomatoes. I use my ten-inch chef’s knife as a squeegee to collect as much tomato juice as I can from the board, then I add that juice to the bowl.

You’ll have a bit of tomato juice left on your cutting board. Take a small handful of your nice, dry greens, and plop it right in the middle of that juice. Coarsely chop the greens. Next, toss them in the juice. Use the greens to sop up all that delicious juice from the cutting board. That juice is loaded with flavor and you want every bit of it in your dinner. Your cutting board should be nearly dry. (You may need to do this step twice to get all the juice.)

Add only the small handful of greens to your bowl, then toss thoroughly to evenly coat every leaf with that flavorful mixture. At the end, you want the whole dish to be a homogeneous mixture. It’s easier to achieve that if you start by mixing just a small portion of your greens.

Coarsely chop another nice handful of greens, for a total of half the greens so far, and add that to the bowl. Stack it up if you must. Cook for two minutes.

While you wait for the first half of the greens to cook, squeeze one tablespoon of juice from a fresh lemon.

If you’re adding fresh herbs from your garden, this is the time to prep them. You’ll want to wait as long as possible to finely chop them right before you add them to the dish.

The first half of your greens will have cooked down a bit, leaving room for the next step, which is to stir them thoroughly.

Coarsely chop the second half of the greens, and stack them on top of the mixture. Cook for two minutes, then mix thoroughly.

I like to cook one cup of quinoa, add one quarter of the batch to my greens, and save the rest. If you’re reheating the quinoa from fridge temperature, then add one quarter of the original batch to the greens, then cook for an additional minute.

For peak nutrition and flavor, wait until the end, after you finish the cooking, and then add your herbs, finely-chopped, and the fresh lemon juice. For the sake of homogeneity, when I have a big pile of leafy herbs, such as cilantro, I add a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after adding each portion.

Next step―devour. Yum.

I often add fresh chives at the end and leave out the yellow onion at the beginning, which calls for adjusting the first few steps of this recipe.

In place of quinoa, for protein, I use black beans, lentils, and wheat berries. I’ve gone crunchy, too, with a mix of raw pepitas, raw sunflower seeds, and soy nuts. You can throw in a bit of flaxseed meal or nutitional yeast, too.

Alone and in different combinations, for fresh herbs, I’ve used cilantro, Thai basil, Genovese basil, chives, and arugula.

There is no end to the exploring you can do to find your favorite flavor combinations.

Have fun!