Last week, Margo True, our fearless food editor, brought me a mix of Asian greens from the test garden. Evidently, our plan for growing a Japanese garden didn’t work out as planned and what I had was the odds and ends that we were able to eek out.
When she gave them to me I was so busy finishing projects for our August issue that I didn’t have time to deal with them. Instead, I wrapped them in individual bunches in damp paper towels (keeping the labels with them so I knew what they were), set them on a tray, and covered them with a towel. I put them in the fridge to store until I could cook them the next day.
So what happened? The same thing that happens at home after I stock the fridge with fresh produce: I forgot about them. I went out of town on business and when I returned, they were wilted and ugly. I immediately felt bad that I had wasted them after all that Margo and Johanna, our test garden coordinator, had done to grow them.
Luckily, leafy greens that have almost reached the expiration point can still be used. First, I picked off all the yellow or dried up leaves and set them aside. Then I picked the remaining leaves from the stems and soaked them in cold water for 5 minutes to both clean them and to let the greens soak up water, helping them to recrisp. I did this three times to help get all the dirt off and refreshen them. I drained them and they looked as if they had been brought back to life.
I heated up the wok with a bit of vegetable oil and tossed in the greens with slices of garlic, red chile flakes, and a bit of soy sauce. After stirring them for a minute of two, they cooked down and the garlic toasted.
They were delicious and exactly like a side of greens you might get at a Chinese restaurant.
And those yellow leaves and remaining stems? The chickens were very happy to call them lunch.