Hot Stuff

As health-conscious gourmets recognize mustard greens’ delicious assets, the down-home vittles are moving uptown.

| August/September 1999

  • Photography by Anybody Goes

  • The sweetness of beets complements bitter baby mustard greens in this Harvest Salad.
  • Mustard greens simmered in ­ginger, garlic, and red pepper welcome scallops ­marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, and orange juice.



Harvest Salad
Horseradish and Mustard Mashed Potatoes
Braised Greens and Scallops
Mustard Greens with Mustard Seeds 

In the South, great stewpots of mixed greens and ham hocks simmer for hours to render the traditional mess o’ greens and green gumbo. The roots of these dishes go deep; during the Civil War, displaced people gathered mustard greens, the tops of the same wild plants that yield mustard seed, along with what­ever else they could find growing wild to ­sustain them. Following the war, farmers welcomed mustard greens as a crop that was productive and easy to grow and that could be canned for winter use.

Today, mustard greens are making their way into gourmet restaurants and cookbooks as chefs strive to meet the demands of a clientele eager for healthy, flavorful, locally grown produce. The rounded, dark leaves of ‘Osaka purple’ and ‘Tendergreen’ mustard spinach add interest and mild flavor to salads. Mizuna, with long, dark green leaves and a mild cabbage flavor, is readily available, often found in natural foods stores.

Vivid masses of cooked greens make a stunning bed for stir-fries, grains, and grilled or sautéed meat, fish, and poultry. They also give soups and stews a lively presence. Bright green, dark green, and purple-tinged young leaves add visual and flavor interest to the Provençal salad mixes known as mesclun.

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