- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I love the taste of sour or tart fruit in savory dishes — especially in today’s recipe, where the flavors of the greens, onions and cherries (including both juicy and dried, for textural contrast) are all equally strong. The result is surprisingly balanced and smooth.

Here’s your opportunity to become acquainted with some of those mysterious edible dark green leaves you are being told are so good for you.

I recommend using a mixture of small kale leaves (just coming into markets now), collards, red mustard and chard.

The amount of greens below might seem enormous, but don’t forget they will cook down significantly — and people will want to eat a lot of this dish.

Note:

• Unsweetened sour cherries from a can work beautifully here, but if you have access to fresh sour cherries (and you have a good pitting gadget), by all means use them.

• Vidalia onions are terrific, but if you can’t find them, just use regular ones.

• This dish gives off a lot of cooking liquid, but it is too pretty and delicious to let evaporate. So just include some with each serving, especially if you are pairing this dish with pasta or rice.

Bitter greens with sweet onions and sour cherries

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups sliced onion (a sweet variety, such as Vidalia, if available)

3 large bunches fresh greens, stemmed if necessary, and coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)

Salt

1 cup fresh sour cherries, pitted (or canned unsweetened sour cherries, drained)

1 cup dried sour cherries (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat.

After about a minute, add the olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion and saute over high heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and let the onion cook until very tender (about 10 more minutes).

Add the greens in batches, sprinkling very lightly with salt after each addition, and turning them with tongs, bringing up the wilted ones from the bottom to the top of the pile.

When all the greens have wilted, stir in the cherries, and cook for just about 2 minutes longer.

Transfer to a platter, and grind on a generous amount of black pepper. Serve hot or warm, being sure to include some of the delicious cooking juices with each serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press).

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