Since it’s nearly that very GREEN day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been thinking about edible greens, and one very important cooking tip I learned long ago from my Italian grandmother. No wait — she wasn’t really my grandmother, but the nonna of my ex-husband. No matter. She had some great cooking tips, and I’m always eager to learn about cooking from Italians.
It was simple: after you buy your green vegetables at the market, she said, go home and parboil them (parboiling is simply a brief boiling, which is an incomplete form of cooking). The vegetables will stay fresher in the parboiled form, kept in a covered container, and when you’re ready to eat them, you can toss them in a saute pan without worrying that they’ll be tough or undercooked.
I confess, I don’t always do this, but with heartier (or tougher) green vegetables such as broccoli or curly kale, I’m very glad when I do. It’s true that the greens stay fresher longer in the fridge (or you can freeze them for a practically unlimited life span) and it’s quicker and easier to add them to any recipe, so I’m likelier to eat my greens.
Saute some onions and mushrooms as I did here, add the greens and maybe some red pepper and serve over polenta — or pasta, brown rice, bulgur, risotto, barley…..of course, you can season and add proteins (chicken, fish, tofu) or not as you like…..
Well, it’s been more than 35 years since Nonna Miccucci told me that little cooking tip, but it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s a basic lesson: spending a little time now will save time and aggravation (i.e. wilted vegetables) later.
One good tip can go a long way in the kitchen, and maybe also in life.