Waste not


On the “recipes” page of my website, www.localfoodalbuquerque.com, I have a section of recipes and techniques for leafy greens. I discuss there how I mix all sorts of greens, blanch them, and then proceed with a recipe or freeze them for later use. When I’m processing a lot of greens, five or six large bunches may go through the blanching water. When I’m done, there sits the stockpot, full of a fluid brimming with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and flavor. No way does it go down the drain.

Boil the greens broth hard, until it’s reduced to about 2/3 of its former volume. Now pour it into a big bowl, wipe your stockpot clean, heat it well over medium heat, film the bottom with a few tablespoons of decent olive oil, and put in a yellow onion cut in half but skin left on (naturally you wash it well first), a good fresh carrot scrubbed and cut in thin slices, and two shallots cut in half, skin and all. Saute’ the vegetables for at least ten minutes, probably longer. You want the cut sides of the alliums to be cooked-looking and browned in places but not scorched anywhere. The pour in the greens broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer at least half an hour, up to an hour if you have time. I like to put the carrot greens and a few sprigs each of parsley and leaf celery in to simmer with the rest. A few old Parmesan rinds simmered in with the vegetables give a great flavor.

When finished, you have a very good vegetarian broth which can be used immediately or frozen for later use. It can be canned if you have a pressure canner, and this is a good way to save freezer space. Whenever pressure canning, scrupulously follow the directions in the Ball Blue Book for our altitude, to ensure a safe product.

You can use it in soups, as a cooking liquid for rice or other grains, or anywhere you might use a meat broth, although you will achieve a different flavor and a different look. The onion skins give it a nice color if you used yellow onions. A greens risotto with made with this broth and with sauteed greens in olive oil and garlic stirred in just before serving is truly delicious. On a simpler note, it makes a good light lunch just salted to taste and poured over a grilled piece of good sourdough bread, with good Parmesan grated in generously. Perfume it by grinding some black pepper into the bowl just before eating.

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