This is the time of year where many people enjoy eating their greens, particularly on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day because they are thought to bring good luck. But even if you are not superstitious, you should still make dark leafy greens a regular part of your diet. They are flavorful, packed with nutrients, and simple enough to prepare on your lunch break.
Hearty greens like turnip greens or collard greens have a pretty bad reputation for being heavy and served alongside fried chicken at your stereotypical Meat & Three. But they can be prepared in a healthy way that does not require fattening ingredients, and the end result is just as delicious. I like to braise my greens for at least an hour to produce the most savory and tender bite, but they can also be sautéed or stewed for much longer – especially when cooked in a crock-pot.
Leafy greens possess many nutritional benefits that are critical for eye health. Their dark green color is an indicator that they are full of beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are incredible powerhouses for preserving vision. These pigmented antioxidants protect eyes from the dangers of harsh UV rays and can also aid in the prevention of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Adding these nutrient-packed greens to your diet will keep your eyes strong, and they are sure to please your entire family at dinner time. No matter what your schedule is, you can have this delicious recipe ready in a snap!
Turnip Greens with Pancetta
- 1 large bag turnip greens or collard greens
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 small round slices of pancetta, diced
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 large can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 bundle thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Vegetable stock/water
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- In a large stock pot over medium heat, add diced pancetta with about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Cook until crispy, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon remove pancetta and set aside.
- Add onions, garlic, chili flakes, thyme and bay leaves to pot. Cook on medium heat until very fragrant and onions become translucent. Add greens and allow them to wilt. Once wilted, add can of tomatoes with juice. Continue to cook, adding enough vegetable stock or water to make mixture slightly soupy. The greens should still be brothy once the liquid has reduced.
- Add brown sugar, vinegar and pancetta. Cook for at least another 15 minutes on low. To finish in the crock-pot, transfer ingredients at this point and cook on low, using a little extra broth to prevent dryness.
- Season with salt and pepper. Remove thyme leaves and bay leaves. Serve hot with cornbread.