In Making Food on July 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Week 22

Obsession might be too strong a word for my feelings about greens, but only just barely. I love greens; I love them; I do. Mustard, dandelion, collard. Kale, chard, spinach. Bok choy, broccoli rabe, watercress. Sometimes I get more excited about the greens that come attached to root vegetables than I do about the root vegetables themselves: turnips greens, beet greens, and radish greens are all delicious. Thanks to our awesome CSA from Harvest Moon Farms, I’ve got a few heads of kohlrabi in the fridge (which will almost certainly be the subject of next week’s post), and I’m less nervous about, and have more ideas for, cooking the leaves than the actual bulb itself. (This is the part where readers shower me with awesome-kohlrabi-recipe-laden comments.)

So when I saw a bunch of greens labeled ‘tatsoi’ at the farmers market alongside the chard and spinach, I didn’t hesitate. They look a lot like baby bok choy, only darker and greener, and the entire bunch was just slightly larger than my outstretched palm, which looks really weird — botanically speaking — in this photo. (Ignore the asparagus and the inexplicably placed tongs on the left side of the photo.)

We decided to use the tatsoi instead of spinach in a kind of kitchen-sink pasta dish, one of our year-round standbys that’s great for using up whatever’s kicking around the fridge and pantry. (We call these “Sharon dinners” in honor of The Husband’s stepmom, who can produce an awesome MacGyver-esque dinner out of whatever’s in the house. Two carrots, deli ham, kidney beans and feta? Frozen corn, leftover fried chicken, lentils and yogurt? No sweat. Just give her twenty minutes and some duct tape, and you’ll be sitting down to a feast.)

The Husband, who’s been helping out more and more with dinner prep these days, set to work cooking about a pound of spicy Italian sausage from the world’s best meat market* while I prepped the vegetables. I thinly sliced a shallot, cut a bunch of asparagus into two-inch-ish segments, and sliced a zucchini into half-moons. The tatsoi leaves got sliced into inch-thick ribbons, and the tatsoi stems got the one-inch-chop treatment too.

Once the sausage was cooked, The Husband used a slotted spoon to transfer it from the pan to a big bowl. In the fat remaining in the pan, he gave the shallots a quick saute, then added the zucchini and asparagus and cooked just until they started to soften, about three or four minutes. In went the tatsoi stems for another minute or so, then the tatsoi leaves, which took about thirty seconds to wilt. The greenery went into the bowl with the sausage, then we added some garlic linguini, about a half-cup of grated pecorino romano, and some of the pasta cooking water, a pasta-saucing trick that works wonderfully when I remember it:

Just before you’re about to drain the pasta, dip a ladle or measuring cup into the pot and steal about a cup of the cooking water. Once you add grated cheese to the pasta dish, add about a half-cup of the cooking water, and toss well; add a little more water if needed. The starchy liquid’ll combine with the grated cheese to make a poor man’s sauce, and you won’t need to add much (if any) olive oil to help the cheese stick to the pasta (though you’re of course welcome and encouraged to do so).

Apologies for the blurriness of this photo; I can’t seem to get used to the couple-second delay on my phone’s camera function, and I’m usually too impatient/lazy/hungry to try for a really good picture.

The tatsoi was super-delicious, and distinctly different from other greens we’ve used in pastas, stir-fries and sautes before. It didn’t get slimy or ferrous-metallic like spinach can/does; it wasn’t bitter like mustard or dandelions greens; it wasn’t timid like chard or toothsome like kale. It was creamy (which is admittedly a weird thing to say about a green), rich and robust, flavorful without being distracting or overwhelming. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any at the market since, so I’m guessing it’s an early summer crop. And one that I will be planting in next year’s garden, because I’m already (still?) craving it.

* Dude, I’m serious about this meat market. I joined Twitter just to follow them. Well, them, and my friend’s feed of hilarious and super-offensive puns that would’ve gotten rejected from the Snickers ad campaign. (Start a nuclear war with Snackistan! Wear tight pants and show off some Carameltoe! Go bow-hunting with Ted Nougat!) I think he’s stopped posting them now, and for some reason I can’t go back to the older tweets, but: he had a good run. Rejected Snicker, we hardly knew ye.

    • Thanks, Monica! I’m going to give this a shot — going to a pickling party this weekend. Plus I had some awesome pickled beets over the weekend that I can’t stop thinking about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: