Trying to use up all the incredible veg from this week’s CSA box has been a real challenge – especially when it comes to the more unusual items, like brussel sprout greens. I’m glad I went with the bi-weekly delivery, because if I hadn’t, my order would be doubling today! Yikes! I can’t eat quite that quickly, so I’m happy to have some extra time on my hands to cook up the rest of my bounty.
Last night I used a whole mess of brussel sprout greens to whip up something that I lovingly refer to as “Greens n’ Beans”. Chef Blythe used to get really excited whenever he used the phrase, usually referring to his favorite soup. I can’t help but repeat it as emphatically as he did during my days at culinary school. “Greeeeens n’ BEANS!!” The name always makes Scott nervous, but after I included some bacon ends he cheered right up.
Bacon ends, by the way, are simply amazing. They are basically just irregular cuts of bacon, but cost about 1/2 as much. That 50% discount is sizeable when you are buying nitrate free, all natural bacon. I haven’t seen this stuff in every store, but if you can get your hands on it, it is perfect for soups, hashes, or any recipe that chops the bacon up anyway. I wouldn’t want to put bacon ends on a BLT, but in general, I’d say that perfectly cut bacon is kind of overrated.
You can also swap out brussel sprout greens for something easer to find like kale or collard greens.
By the way, you vegetarians and vegans out there could enjoy a nice greens n’ beans dish by swapping the bacon ends for a little smoked tempeh. Just be sure to add a healthy fat to the mix to make up for all the lovely bacon grease. Olive Oil would do, but cut it at about half with some regular cooking oil so that it doesn’t burn up in your hot pan. Oh! A touch of smoked salt or smoked paprika would be a nice touch too.
Without further ado, this week’s Greens n’ Beans…
- 1 bunch brussel sprout greens, shredded
- 1 can white beans, rinsed
- 4 ounces bacon ends
- 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (optional)
- salt & pepper to taste
In a large skillet, crisp the bacon ends over medium heat. (This could take a while, be patient.) Turn the bacon ends as needed so they don’t burn, and make sure to remove smaller pieces from the pan as they cook. When all of the bacon has cooked, remove the last bits from the pan, and chop up all the cooked bacon into small, bite sized pieces.
Drain most of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving just a coating of grease behind. The bacon fat can be reserved for other cooking. Remove the solids by draining it through a fine mesh strainer. After it cools, it can be scooped into a bag or container and frozen.
Turn the heat back onto medium. Once the pan gets nice and hot, plop a handful or so of greens into it. Use some tongs to toss the greens with the grease. Continue turning the greens, and allow them to cook for about 2 minutes. Add more greens, and toss them with the cooked greens. When they soften a bit and start to wilt, add more. Repeat this until all your greens are in the pan. Cook the greens for 2 more minutes, turning them continuosly. Add the bacon and the beans back to the pan, along with the chili paste. Taste, and season as needed with salt & pepper. (Keep in mind that the bacon is quite salty, so you may not need to addd any salt at all.) You can serve the dish as soon as the beans are heated through.
This dish would be great over pasta or egg noodles (though you’ll need to dress the pasta with a little salt & pepper, tomato juice, butter, or olive oil.) Instead of pasta, I baked a quick batch of scallion cornbread muffins. These were pretty simple, and not from scratch (gasp). I actually just added chopped scallions to a batch of boxed Jiffy mix. I’m fairly certain that you could take a similarly simple approach to any from-scratch recipe though. I just tossed the scallions in after mixing the batter. No big whoop.