A quick word before dinner: Oh My God fresh greens are delicious. I know they look like every American child’s nightmare, they look like the salty crap you dump out of a can when you’re on the receiving end of a food drive; but Lord-A-Mercy ya’ll need to grow your own.
Leafy vegetables grow easy and fast from seed. All I did to grow my greens was water the seeds once every morning until they sprouted, and then once a week if it didn’t rain. Four weeks later now I can come home from work, cut some stuff out of the garden, throw it in a pan and have a good fifty percent of green stuff for dinner. (That’s my new Color Diet: at least fifty percent green stuff. I made it up. Maybe I should patent it? I’ll let you know how it works out.)
Having a variety of greens and herbs is essential if you love food and flavor like I do. I get bored with food pretty easily, and I like punchy flavors. As much as I love chard for its flavor and ease of cultivation, I could never have a monogamous relationship with just one leafy green. This dish has no chard at all.
For this dish I used spinach coarsely chopped and the few remaining rapini florets left before bolting, and wilted them in a saucepan with sesame oil and salt. Then after maybe two or three minutes I added Mizuna mustard greens and cilantro, both more finely chopped, and cooked for just another minute or so. After removing from heat I added some chives.
Finely chopping the stronger flavored herbs is important to distribute the flavors. Mizuna greens taste just like that super-hot mustard at Chinese restaurants, and cilantro cooked in a dish is lemony and tangy, but verges upon rubbery when it is too concentrated. Of course you never cook chives.
Fresh spinach is a miracle, plain and simple. My husband asked me what meat stock I used to flavor this – none! Spinach is just that rich when it hasn’t aged in a plastic bag for a week or two, or suffered the ill-effects of refrigeration. I ate half my greens while I was making the dumplings (yes they are freezer dumplings; I do have a fulltime job after all) and considered eating only greens for dinner because they were so satisfying. However, the lures of dumplings in chili garlic sauce and a nice Shiraz to accompany the greens won me over, and a wonderful supper ensued. *Happy sigh*