The first artistic talents I ever displayed were visual.
I was four years old and would draw, and draw, and draw.
This obsessive drawing led to obsessive painting as well. And eventually a collection of art awards in high school. First place, Best of Show, a scholarship, and a few other awards, but I have no idea which shows they were from… I just remember begrudgingly attending the shows because I was the “angry artist” type… I still am… Sorta… but I use knives instead of pencils and paint brushes now.
Naturally, my color palette is important to me.
I’m… “drawn”… to earthy colors in particular (see what I did there?).
Various shades of dusty red, rustic orange, warm yellow
deep purples and aquas
and ESPECIALLY olive green.
I love greens.
That’s a pun, peeps…
So I found these beautiful mustard greens at the farmer’s market. I’ve never eaten mustard greens, and they were cheap, so I went after them. Already knowing that mustard greens are pretty damn bitter, I still tasted a couple leaves raw. Yeesh. Yeah, pretty bitter, even for someone who eats packets of mustard…
So then I talked to Chef at work, and his answer was sugar. Saute garlic, onions, add brown sugar… I thought, “Okay, but… I’m too cool for that…” I thought up something else, but based on the idea of sugar.
Apricots & Mustard Greens
about 1 cup dried apricots, chopped in halves or quarters
half an onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch of mustard greens*
1 cup sweet wine (apricot, sherry, marsala, etc.) OR 3/4 cup vegetable broth mixed with 1/4 cup honey, maple, or agave syrup
salt & pepper to taste
*You can try this with just about any greens– turnip, collards, even kale or Swiss chard. Remove the stems and ribs of the leaves if you don’t want to spend a lot of time chewing ^_^
In a large pan or pot, spread out the apricots, then the onion slices, and then the mustard greens. Pour in the wine or broth mixture, and turn the heat to medium high. When the liquid is simmering and the greens near the bottom begin to soften, start stirring everything around. The greens will soon reduce greatly. Lower the heat to medium, and stir occasionally, to ensure even cooking. Over the next 15-20 minutes, keep lowering the heat to prevent the liquid from evaporating too fast. While it’s cooking, the natural sugars of the apricots and wine (or broth elixir) will counteract the bitterness of the greens, which is why you want to keep the simmer going for a while. The onions will also take on some sweetness. Let them infuse! When the cooking liquid is syrupy, add salt and pepper to your liking. If the greens are still bitter, gradually add extra honey/maple/agave syrup and cook a few minutes longer.
Sweet, peppery, lots of texture, and not at all bitter.
You can also saute everything in olive oil before you add the liquid, to really heighten the flavor.
Raisins or dried cherries are acceptable substitutes for the apricots. (I just love dried apricots).
Serve alongside some rice, polenta, quinoa, or your grain of choice.
And topped with some chopped nuts, or crumbled cheese.