Mustard greens are an incredibly easy plant to grow. In Oregon, I sow the seeds in late fall. The plants will be small as they overwinter, but in the spring they will begin shooting up. Mustard greens can grow amazingly tall, and form yellow flowers. Anupy Singla, one of my favorite cookbook writers, says that in India Bollywood love scenes are filmed amoung the yellow flowering fields of mustard greens.
In America, however, many of us are not familiar with how to use this plant that is available locally in the spring. Mustard greens, as their name implies, have a very strong flavor, and the key to cooking with them is to let them be the star, and to balance them out with mellow flavors.
I found a recipe for pasta with mustard greens in Molly Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven, which is a wonderful reference for finding a way to prepare just about any vegetable you may have grown or picked up at the farmer’s market. As usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit, such as adding garbanzo beans for protein, and nutritional yeast for extra vitamins. Enjoy!
Pasta with Mustard Greens
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, such as Walla Walla, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 large bunch mustard greens (from my garden, I just picked as many greens as I could pack in a colander)
1 13-3/4 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 8 oz package of pasta (use a short pasta such as farfalle or macaroni – I used quinoa shells)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet, such as a wok, over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and saute for at least 10 minutes, turning the heat down after a few minutes, until the onions are very soft and tender (Katzen covers the pan and lets the onions cook over low heat for 20 minutes). Meanwhile, start to boil the water for the pasta.
2. When the onions are ready to your liking, stir in the mustard greens, artichoke hearts, broth, and garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down cover, and simmer gently for 5 – 8 minutes, stirring a few times. As you can see from the pictures below, the greens will really cook down!
3. When the pasta is cooked and the greens are cooked down, add the pasta to the pan. Stir in the toasted walnuts and nutritional yeast. Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper.