“Eat your greens!” Only with us it’s “Where’s your green?” You see, as chefs who develop dishes and plan menus, a main course is not complete unless there are greens built-in on some level. For example a black bean burrito will have raw spinach incorporated, a curry may have savoy cabbage, sushi needs a seaweed salad, a roasted chicken pairs with collard greens.
Habits are unthinking repetitive action–and after years of coming up with dishes and thinking “Where’s the green?” I can honestly say that I don’t think about it, I just automatically include a form of greens in almost every dish–to the point where a pizza is not complete without a salad.
This time of year we grow and eat a lot of a green called Callaloo. Also known as Vegetable Amaranth, Callaloo is the main ingredient of a West Indian Dish of the same name. The dish Callaloo contains Okra and Taro and is also thought of as a “Jamaican Gumbo”. Callaloo the green is slightly sweet and has a subtle corn-like flavor. It should be cooked almost immediately after picking. Callaloo is a favorite summer green, which is good because it grows like a weed here, as the summers are much like that of Jamaica, only with out the gorgeous clear waters of the Caribbean…
Tonight we ate Callaloo (the green) simply roasted with grape seed oil, salt and pepper, John rolled some whole wheat noodles and I made a red bean spread flavored with some herbs and about a dozen roasted bunching onions from our garden.
Greens help us practice dietary needs, enjoyment of flavors and where our food comes from. Simply put, demands and desires. From this perspective of intertwined nutrition, eating and gathering, we begin to see that health, aesthetics and food ethos create a tension and it is that tension that helps us all become better cookers as well as eaters, gardeners as well as neighbors.