Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Well it doesn't look like much, does it? I mean those little piles of wilted green leafy stuff. Those are the leaves from my first (rather late!) thinning of the rutabaga. That was about 8 cups of raw greens mind you; like most greens they really cook down. It's the first time we've tried eating them, and I have to say I think they are surprisingly good!
They had some definite strikes against them; they got planted late and thinned even later, it's been so very hot, it's been so very dry. They've had every reason to go tough and nasty and I suspect if we had been eating them 2 weeks ago in a better summer than this one that they would have been superb. As it was, I thought they were really nice and Mr. Ferdzy though they were okay. I knew from the first bite that that would be his highest possible rating for them, because they definitely had that faint mustardy bitterness that you find in much of the brassica family, and he seriously doesn't like bitter leafy greens. But they were also surprisingly tender and tasty, and he ate them all which tells you something.
I washed them in cold salty water as the bugs have been at them a bit - the brassicas are all serious pest magnets - and discarded the tough stems and any limp or yellowed leaves. I roughly chopped the remaining leaves and threw them into a skillet with chicken thighs when they had about 3 minutes left to cook. I poured about a tablespoon of water over them, as they don't hold water like spinach does, to help them steam a bit. I stirred them around as they cooked, and they picked up a certain amount of fat from the cooking chicken, which did them no harm at all in our eyes.
The leaves may be surprisingly tender, but they also have a faint hairiness to them. Some people say you can put them in salads when they are very young, but you would have to not mind that texture. I think they are better quickly cooked. Otherwise, in general I would use these in any recipe which calls for kale, collard, or turnip greens.
I've never seen rutabaga greens for sale - but someone should sell them. They're that good! I actually think they are better than turnip greens, but perhaps that isn't surprising since I generally like rutabagas better than I like turnips. These ones were grown from seed we saved ourselves and were probably a cross between York and Laurentian. I would think most rutabaga greens would be pretty indistinguishable though.