Spring or Winter Greens


Greens used to be considered rather poor fare and eating them was more of a duty than a pleasure. Some of us are old enough to remember the grim edict: ‘Eat your greens or you’ll grow up spotty,’ or worse, ‘You’ll sit there ‘til they’re all gone.’ Greens are characterized by rather coarse leaves, strong ribs and a slightly bitter taste which you either love or loathe. Spring greens usually refers to cabbages which have not formed a massed centre of closely packed leaves, the heart.

Start by throwing away the outer leaves, then cut off the basal stalks of the remainder and wash them. Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the leaves in it for 3 minutes. Remove them and plunge them immediately into very cold water to arrest the cooking.

You can now finish the leaves in a pan with butter, grating over a little nutmeg before bringing them to the table, or try a very different approach and dress the warm leaves with a mixture of Dijon mustard, Kikkoman soy sauce, lemon juice and a little olive oil. This has a Japanese feel to it and sets off the strongly flavoured leaves to perfection. Flavoured this way they go well with grilled fish or chicken.