How to tame mustard greens to sweet and spicy perfection

Our farmer girl leaves early and comes home dirty. She brings back the spare clump of radishes, the stray gourd and bulging bags of mustard greens. A slight, dirt-streaked Santa, she heaves her sacks onto the kitchen table: green gifts to last all summer. 

Or so it seems. 

Mustard greens, in the raw, growl big and bitter. They take some taming. Here on the homestead, we trim away the burly backbones, blanch out the bitter and temper the leaves tender. Glazed sweet and spicy, the greens crouch low in the bowl and overflow with flavor. 

Like much from the farm, they clean up nicely. 



Prep: 10 minutes 

Cook: 20 minutes 

Makes: About 4 cups, serves 4 

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 

2 bunches mustard greens (about 1 1/4 pounds total) 

Kosher salt 

1/4 cup olive oil 

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise 

Kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

3 thin slices (about 1 ounce total) prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips 

1. Reduce: Pour balsamic into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Reduce to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Pour into a glass measuring cup to stop the cooking. 

2. Blanch: Pull mustard greens off their stems and break the leaves into pieces. (Discard stems.) Rinse in several changes of cool water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in greens and stir until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Drain. Rinse under cool water. 

3. Crisp: Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Scrape in garlic, and cook until crisp and golden, 1-2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a small bowl. 

4. Toss: Add red pepper and wilted greens to the skillet, and toss until glossy and hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2-3 teaspoons of the balsamic syrup, tossing to coat the greens. Toss with prosciutto. Taste — you may want a bit of salt or more syrup. Toss with reserved garlic. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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