Food for Thought
In many parts of the country, autumn is giving way to winter, a time when fresh vegetables are harder to come by. However, this is the season to celebrate the arrival of winter greens on store shelves. Winter greens come in many varieties, including collards, escarole, kale and mustard greens.
Comparing Winter Greens. Winter greens are cool-weather vegetables and are available from late autumn until early spring. Collards and kale are both members of the cabbage family and, not surprisingly, taste like cabbage; the two veggies are often interchanged in recipes. Escarole is a relative of Belgian endive and has a slightly bitter taste. Mustard greens, the leaves of the mustard plant, are spicy and peppery.
Cooking Winter Greens. Most winter greens are better cooked than eaten raw. The exceptions are the young and tender leaves of collards, escarole, kale and mustard greens, which can be used for salads. Collard greens can be steamed or cooked like spinach, except they require more cooking time (at least 10–20 minutes, depending on the tenderness of the leaves). Escarole is more delicate than the other winter greens and therefore requires less cooking time. Kale is excellent sautéed, added to casseroles or simmered in a broth or soup. Mustard greens are best blanched in water prior to being added to any recipe; they are a great addition to stir-fried meals.