Warmer weather has arrived in southeast Ohio, marking the beginning of spring vegetable harvesting. Mustard greens are a vegetable that hits its peak in the late spring and early summer as hot weather can cause an unpleasant bitterness. As part of the mustard plant, this leafy green has a strong bitter, spicy flavor reminiscent of the condiment which is made from ground mustard seeds.

Usually eaten boiled, steamed, stir-fried or pickled, mustard greens are one of the most nutritious foods you can consume. The greens are high in fiber and micronutrients, also containing abundant amounts of vitamins C and K. When cooked, mustard greens actually increase their levels of beneficial vitamins A, K and copper. However, the amount of vitamins C and E are reduced in cooking.

Raw mustard greens are commonly added to other greens to provide flavor to salads. When cooked, the greens make a great side dish to pair with roasted chicken or baked fish. The vegetable also works well in soups, stews and casseroles. Due to their bitterness, the greens are usually cooked with a fat (such as olive oil or butter) and an acidic liquid like lemon juice or vinegar.

When selecting mustard greens, look for perky greens with no evidence of wilting. Don’t purchase greens with yellowing or browned leaves. Mustard greens should be wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel and inserted into an open zip-top bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. The greens will keep for three to four days. Wash greens just before use.

Sautéed mustard greens

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches mustard greens, stemmed and chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

Directions:

In a large pan with straight sides on medium heat, add the oil. Add garlic to hot oil and sauté until garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the mustard greens. Season the greens with salt and pepper and sauté while tossing to wilt. Once wilted, add chicken stock and stir. Raise heat to a simmer, and then lower heat. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Stir in ground mustard. Serve warm.

This Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market, OU COMCorps, a local Americorps program, and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year round), 9 a.m. to noon at the Market on State St. Parking Lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: The USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the Southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.

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