Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved
Kale (Lacinato and Russian), chard, arugula, beet greens, pea shoots, even collards have recently gotten their time in the foodie spotlight—forgotten in the mists of time, these ingredients are magically rediscovered, enlivened, and made new… perfectly quaint, precious preparations are concocted, instagram’d rehashings reverberate throughout the blogosphere, glossy food publications rejoice, and, finally, everybody starts itching for the next scratch, perhaps muttering about how “over” using ______ is (cauliflower: I’m looking at you).
Truly a modern model of innovation and progress! Well, lucky you Mr. Mustard Greens… enjoy your fifteen minutes of attention on our backwater blog. Perhaps your brief, minor exposure to the vagaries of taste and circumstance bespeaks a long-lived stint in the undocumented kitchens of real home cooks—you are, after all, always available in the shabbiest of produce departments. Who knows… you might have been here all along, just like your flashier brassica cousins.
What I really mean to say is: I love mustard greens. I’m always trying to convince Megan that we should get mustards instead of kale or chard because it just has more flavor… and their less-toothsome texture make them a good candidate for eating raw (in certain preparations). Of course, they are wonderful in hot preparations— most people give them a supporting role in a long-simmered pot of collards, but they shine especially bright in Indian “saag”-type curries, where they can supplement or replace spinach.
So after finally acquiring a mess of very pretty mustard greens—and seeing how it is not exactly curry weather—I decided to branch out and try utilizing them in one of my favorite “raw” sauces: Argentine chimichurri. My efforts were not wasted!
I paired this Mustard-Green Chimichurri with seared pork chops (pork + mustard = tried-and-true success), but any grilled or seared protein would benefit from a slathering of this pungent concoction.
Just like kale, chard, collards and the rest, be sure you swish the mustards around in plenty of water to loosen any dirt from the leaves. Drain and repeat until the water is clear; dry the leaves thoroughly. I’m sure you could use the ribs as well, but I decided to trim them off.
Feel free to use a food processor or blender to whip this up, but the texture will not be as pleasantly chunky, nor will the color be quite as green (blender blades bruise and tear leaves instead of cutting them). For those of you who don’t have one—or just have a really sharp knife you like to use—stack the leaves together, roll them like a cigar, fold the “cigar” in half, and slice them into very thin ribbons (aka chiffonade). Run your knife through them a few times and set aside. Get the green onions, garlic, chiles, and thyme minced fairly small and then mix all of it together on the cutting board for a final chop-a-thon. The advantage of doing this: things don’t bounce around as much, making it much easier to get that pesto-worthy particle size.
One last thing: the mustard flavor really comes through after a night in the fridge, so plan ahead if you can.
Just in case, I included our basic recipe for Sautéed Pork Chops… it really is a good combination. Since that initial dinner, I have enjoyed it as a substitute for mustard on sandwiches and with eggs.
4 center-cut bone-in pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
Season liberally with:
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Heat in a large skillet over high heat:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Add the chops and brown for 4-5 minutes on each side. They should be very brown on the outside but slightly pink in the center. Remove to a warmed platter or plates and serve with Mustard-Green Chimichurri, see below.
1 ¾ cups
Whisk together thoroughly in a small bowl:
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup finely chopped mustard greens
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
(1-3 serrano chiles, seeded and minced)
(1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme)
Salt to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, or to taste
Cover and let stand for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop (overnight is best). The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.