Cider-Braised Greens

9 Apr

If it were up to me (and it is somewhat puzzling that it is not, considering the fact that I do all the cooking around here), every dinner I served would include these greens.  Lightly garlicky, slightly bitter, and mildly sweet with just a flash of spice, these are the greens that I turn to when I want to whip up something to accompany a basic meal of protein + carbohydrates.  Unfortunately, since many of my house’s food choices are not left entirely up to me, I don’t get to eat these greens all that often.  I could try and be polite about this, but there’s just no skirting the issue.  My kid, he hates leafy greens.

Many years ago, I was sitting in a Thai restaurant with my husband, pre-child years.  We were watching a family of four, two parents, two children, eat their dinner, and I was pleased to see that both kids in the family were happily tucking in pile after pile of sautéed greens, spicy green beans, and grilled tofu.  I watched and admired the family for quite some time, soaking in the spicy, vegetable-laden inspiration of their dining choices.  So, I thought, kids will eat greens and spicy food.  As it turns out, I was only half correct.  Those kids will eat greens and spicy food.

For a long time, I thought that the secret to getting kids to like a certain food was just offering that food to a kid many times (the rumored magic number of offerings before a kid will accept a rejected food is 20—that is, your kid has to taste and reject the food on 20 separate occasions before he or she will finally accept it, which is, to put it simply, disheartening and somewhat ridiculous) until the kid just breaks down and finally decides to eat whatever you are shoving at him.  I now know that the secret to getting your kid to eat food he claims he doesn’t like is…wait, there is no secret.  At least, I haven’t discovered it.  It seems as though the choices many kids make concerning the foods they will and will not eat are completely random.  My son will demolish an entire avocado that has been bathed in fresh lime juice and cracked black pepper, but his friend down the street suffers from a distaste of avocados that is so intense, he has taken to telling people that he is actually allergic to avocados and can’t even be around them.  My son loves salmon, but won’t go near prawns.  He will graze through our garden in the summer, stuffing handfuls of basil, parsley, and mint into his mouth, but if you try and offer him a lettuce leaf, he will back away as though you are waving an angry cobra at his face.

Maybe it’s not really a problem.  Maybe, because he is five, he is just being contrary.  Maybe one day, when he has outgrown his fear of leafy greens and is interested in exploring the world of cooked greens, he will appreciate a recipe like this.  There is not much I can do to in the meantime, save for offering him a tiny bite of my greens each time I make them, waiting in earnest for that magical 21st offering when he will fold under my persistence and finally give in.  If I am really persistent, I could have this nailed by the time he is six.  Maybe seven.  Okay, fine.  Twenty-seven.

With quinoa and grilled salmon

Cider-Braised Greens Recipe

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slices

large pinch of red pepper flakes

8 ounces of greens, rinsed and coarsely chopped (I used turnip greens, kale, and chard, but you can also use beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, or whatever other cooking greens you have on hand)

½ cup unfiltered apple cider

salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add sliced garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 seconds, until the garlic starts to release its aroma.  Add the greens all at once, stirring to coat the greens in the garlicky oil.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until the greens have wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Pour the cider over the greens, stir to combine, place a lid tightly over the pan, and lower heat to medium-low.  Braise the greens for five minutes, until the cider has mostly reduced and the greens are tender.  Remove lid, stir in salt and pepper, and sauté for an additional minute until only a trace of the cider remains.

Serves 2.


15 Responses to “Cider-Braised Greens”

  1. Nancy April 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Our younger son, age 22, now eats vegetables. He never used to, but now he is out on his own – and very into being fit. I would say he’s about where we were as a family when he was five – romaine lettuce and ranch dressing (and many other veggies, but that’s it for salad), but it’s NOT for me to say. Only I will say, their appetites change with time. Mine, too, I guess – even since I’ve been grown.
    This recipe sounds delicious, and I’ll go get kale out the garden in a minute so I don’t forget!

    • savorysaltysweet April 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      It’s heartening to hear that vegetable-averse kids can go on to being vegetable appreciators. Sometimes it feels like my kid’s food universe is actually getting smaller rather than expanding. I must practice patience.

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide April 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    It’s all about the vinegar. I love this recipe. I am not a parent, but would probably just operate under the assumption that kids won’t eat anything you expect them too!

  3. Purely.. Kay April 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    We make our collard greens in a different way but somewhat similar to this recipe (I’m southern :)). I do love this recipe though.. and would probably try it on spinach or kale

    • savorysaltysweet April 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      I love southern greens! This is definitely a tip of the hat to those made in the south.

  4. Meredith April 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    I will make this tomorrow with my fresh beet greens– cant wait! I read that what moms to be eat when they are pregnant can influence early food preferences. But then, not always. Do you find that he will eat veggies when he helps prepare them? That has definitely been my experience when baby sitting finicky kids. But sometimes it is just that
    they have no palate– no way of anticipating new flavors– so new things can be a shock
    of texture and taste. Once my mom made chicken cacciatore and the whole house smelled like it all day, and it was overwhelming to my young nose– after that I could never go near it until decades later.

    • savorysaltysweet April 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      The kid loves cooking, and he even invented this fantastic recipe on his own: Trying to figure out what vegetables he’ll eat, though, is just a total mystery. He’ll eat an entire sheet of nori without blinking, but he won’t go near spinach. Handfuls of kicky and brisk fresh basil? Yes. Lettuce greens? No. It’s totally random.

  5. Seattle Foodshed April 10, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Seattle Foodshed and commented:
    It’s spring, and nothing says spring like a bright green dinner.

  6. needtotaste April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Mmm greens! Looks great atop the quinoa too!

  7. koshercorvid April 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    If it makes you feel better, I hated greens as a kid, and now my husband and I eat about 2 pounds of them a week. One day you try that food you always hated, and are blown away by how amazing it is! These greens are definitely being added to this week’s menu!

    • savorysaltysweet April 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      I am loving all these insights from fellow greens-lovers. Thank you all for keeping me from losing hope that my kid will one day love greens as much as I do!

  8. Margo Sugarman April 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    This looks wonderful! I will try it. Regarding your fussy eater, don’t stress out about it. My eldest son is almost 16 and stopped eating pretty much everything at the age of 8 months! Even today, he eats no vegetables and no protein (except for lots of milk, yellow cheese and eggs that he consumes in pancakes only!) Yet he’s tall, healthy and has lots of energy. Somehow he’s managed to get what he needs, and I stopped worrying about it years ago. But I will make this recipe for the rest of my family, who do eat green veggies!

    • savorysaltysweet April 11, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      I hope you enjoy the recipe! And I love hearing that your son is so healthy and active–even without his greens. There is hope for my son yet.

  9. Cigar Blogs April 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Hey. I’ve finally decided to subscribe after being a long time lurker. Looking forward to some good conversations!

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