In open markets across Southeast Asia, you will find all sorts of leafy greens, a testament to the role that deep green vegetables play in local cuisines. This trend has also taken off in the United States. In part this is due to the growing awareness of their health benefits but I believe it is also influenced by the increased presence of Hmong farmers at our local summer markets. The Hmong in the U.S. came mainly from Laos as refugees after the Viet Nam War. Their peaceful agrarian lives in the hills interrupted, the 2010 census counts roughly as many as 260,000 living within our borders. Much has been written about their struggles but the beauty of their culture has added one more layer of richness to the U.S. melting pot. Many have continued their farming practices bringing a wide variety of vegetables to American tables. I thank them for their contributions.
According to Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, culinary educator in Northern California and author of The Veggie Queen, greens are the number one food you can eat regularly to improve your health. This statement is strongly supported among the medical community as well. WebMD asked the Veggie Queen to rank the country’s most widely-eaten greens from most to least nutritious. Here are her top ten:
- Turnip Greens
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
- Red, Green leaf and Romaine lettuce
- Iceberg Lettuce
The recipe I feature today, pairs my love of Southeast Asian flavors with my continued interest in eating healthy and incorporating as many greens as I can into my diet. I used pork as my protein but this could easily be made with poultry, seafood, beef or tofu.
Here is how it went down:
Southeast Asian Inspired Pork Stir-Fry with Greens
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
5 oz. baby kale (or bigger varieties, stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
2 t oil, neutral cooking oil such as, grapeseed
1lb. ground pork
4 cloves garlic, chopped
11/2 T chopped fresh ginger
1 Thai chile, sliced thin
4 T fresh lime juice
1 t palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce (soy sauce could be used but I recommend using fish sauce)
4 scallions, sliced thin (separate whites and greens)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 c cooked rice (I used brown basmati) or rice noodles
- Blanch broccolini in boiling salted water for one minute. Transfer to an
ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside with baby kale.
2. Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet. Break the pork up into the oil and
cook for a minute or two. Add the garlic, ginger and chile and cook until
meat is cooked through.
3. Add the lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir over medium heat and
cook with meat for about 2 minutes or until slightly reduced.
4. Add the kale and stir until greens begin to soften. Add the broccolini and
stir until heated through.
5. Stir in the white parts of the scallion. Serve over rice, garnished with
scallion greens and sesame seeds.
All of the vibrant fresh flavors marry, creating a complete meal perfect for summer and its plethora of green vegetables. If you prefer other green combinations they can easily be substituted and adjusted to your palate. I decided on broccolini mainly because we love it and enjoy the crunchiness it provides, balancing the softness of the greens, but regular broccoli or other vegetables could be used. The chili, fresh lime juice, fish sauce and sugar provide the flavor profile of hot, sour, salty, sweet that the cuisines of SE Asia are known for. It is the delicate contribution and balance of these flavors that take this simple stir fry to new heights.
This season doesn’t have to be just about what’s grilling. This one pot meal may soon become a summer, fall, winter, or spring family favorite. Just keep it seasonal and it will easily become a regular at your dining table. Stir-fry Saturday? Whatever you are serving up today, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Summer love to all of you from my kitchen to yours. Keep it simple, keep it real. Until next time, Jeanne.