Mustard Lettuce

Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant, Brassica juncea. Mustard greens come in a host of varieties that each has distinct characteristics.  Our Mustard lettuce has been doing really well over winter, with as result that there is quite a bit to harvest for our CSA’s.  As it is uncommon in New Zealand shops I have been googling to find more information on this spunky crop with its soulful taste  that add a pungent, peppery flavour to recipes in which they are featured. Mustard lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese, and is described as giving us highest level support for four conventional antioxidant nutrients.

Storage: Place mustard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where they should keep fresh for about three to four days.

Recipes:  I had lots of fun this week experimenting with Mustard Greens in the kitchen and have decided that it is a winner; it is so versatile and during the end of the long harsh winter I like something that can be so strong (raw) and mild when slightly cooked!  I love the texture and bright flavour of this lettuce and the brief cooking time it requires, if cooked at all!

I found a great page on cooking mustard greens on where different ways of having mustard greens were presented. :

Wilted: Toss with hot dressing, or fold mustard chiffonade into hot beans or pasta. Or pour boiling water over whole trimmed leaves to soften for wrapping.  Recipe: Pumpkin Ravioli With Mustard Greens And Parmesan (Cookthink).

Cook ravioli in large pot of boiling water with 2 teaspoons salt until tender. Rinse, drain and dry bag of mustard greens.  Remove and discard stems, and thinly slice the leaves.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard greens and season with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the greens wilt, 5-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
 A couple of minutes before the ravioli are done, put the greens back over medium heat. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens to form a sauce. When the ravioli are done, add them to the pan with a slotted spoon. Gently toss them with the greens. Sprinkle over the parmesan and more freshly ground black pepper.

Short-cook: Boil a few minutes in broth for bright, juicy, and tender greens; or steam 4-5 minutes for leaves with a bit more flavor and heat.  Recipe: Braised Mustard Greens With Bacon And Shallots (Cookthink).

Long-cook: Earthy bitterness and depth develop in greens that are slow-braised; but bite, perfume, and color dissipate. Recipe: Long-Cooked Mustard Greens (Cookthink)

Salad: With raw mustards, you get a hotter green to toss with mayonnaise, but it’s still delicious.

Recipe: Raw Mustard Greens With Garlic Mayonnaise (Cookthink). Rinse and dry the mustard greens. Slice away the stems, fold over the leaves and cut them into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss the mustard greens with a little of the mayonnaise, adding a little at a time and tasting as you go. The leaves should be coated but not sogged down by the mayonnaise. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.