There’s more to greens than sautéed spinach. This month, we’ve partnered with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share tips, insights and her favorite recipes using greens.
Cooking, like any craft, is something that just takes time and experience (and maybe the occasional nicked finger or scraped knuckle) to get a true knack for. Read all of the cookbooks you want, but nothing will get your culinary instincts on point like good old-fashion trial and error. That can come in many ways, but there are also some chef-inspired nuances that will come in handy.
For instance, the next time you’ve got a batch of spinach that’s about to get a sauté with some garlic and shallots, leave your olive oil in the cabinet and instead use butter. Because of spinach’s cell structure, the dairy fat in butter actually gets absorbed better by the spinach leaves — becoming almost a part of the spinach, as opposed to a slick coating like olive oil tends to. It’s the little details that make massive differences.
Another not-so-known greens trick? You might have heard about “massaging” kale, where you rub and knead sea salt into a batch of kale to tenderize it — often for salads and raw preparations. This also works for cooked dishes and can cut your braise time down if you massage your greens in advance. Just be careful of the salt content if you’re braising.
The hearty vegetarian meal below is an ideal choice for those who may roll their eyes at the words “hearty vegetarian meal.” These flavorful “meatballs” are loaded with six cups of spinach — and yet you may not even notice the greens with the creamy tomato sauce and mushroom laden lentils. For this recipe, use baby spinach because their leaves are tender, as are their stems. Any stems that look a bit thick you can quickly snip off.
Note: Any leftover “meatballs” will keep, well-sealed, in the freezer for one month and in the fridge for up to one week.