If you love deep green leafy vegetables*, try this!
This I was taught by my vegetarian elders years ago:
- Prepare greens by washing, shaking dry, and chopping or tearing into strips.
- Prepare a tall, heavy-bodied cookpot by heating a small pool (~ 1 Tbsp) of oil in it, until just short of smoking.
- Prepare yourself with heat-resistant stirring implement of choice.
- Add one small pinch of asafœtida to the hot oil.
- Watch as it turns brown (a few seconds), but wait no longer!
- Dump the entire pile of greens in the cookpot and stir, stir, stir.
- As the volume of greens reduces, use your senses of texture and smell to determine a good finish point.
- Remove pot from heat and remove greens from pot before they grow limp or change color too much.
Notice what you did not have to do. You did not have to chop onions or garlic until tearful. You did not have to locate and measure a number of different spices. You threw a single pinch of a single ingredient into that hot oil, cooked your greens in it...
How could just a pinch of this one substance do all that?
Magic! Serve these greens to a discerning veggie connoisseur and they will be convinced that you spent far more time and effort than you actually did.
"Wow, how did you spice these? Let me guess -- onions, garlic (but just the perfect light touch of each one!), a tiny dash of soy sauce, perhaps... hmm, white pepper or something? Man, what else is in there? I can't believe this is just greens!"
Yes, you have removed all lingering bitterness, or that chlorophyllish "help, it's turning me into a plant" taste, from those greens, and created rather a savory, almost nutty goodness that could make a chomper of greens out of anyone. Try this on anyone who could use more roughage in their diet, and especially on anyone who needs extra calcium*. Better yet, try it on yourself. It's a quick easy entree, and makes a fine dish when served with rice.
*(Deep leafy greens contain less calcium per gram than dairy products, but the calcium they do contain is in a far more biologically available form.)
Viva asafœtida. It's pretty hard to find in the English speaking world. Sometimes it can be found where middle eastern foods are sold, or at the occasional natural foods store. The good news is, at a pinch per meal, that inexpensive 4oz container of it will last you for years; and, being a resin, it hardly loses any flavor over time.