This post was sponsored by WP Rawl. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!
Have you ever cooked with mustard greens? It’s my favorite leafy green, yet I sadly have zero mustard green recipes in the archives! I think it’s because kale is another bitter leafy green that’s so ubiquitous, but to me, mustard greens are much more flavorful and delicate.
So as you can imagine, I was thrilled when WP Rawl Farm approached me to collaborate on a project highlighting their Nature’s Greens mustard greens, which are in season in South Carolina during the spring and fall. WP Rawl is a local-to-me family farm in Pelion, SC that’s one of the largest growers of leafy greens in the United States. I love when I drive out towards Lexington and pass their bright green fields of green leafies out in the sun! They do a lot for our community, with strong sustainability and social responsibility practices as well.
Over the next three months while mustard greens are at their peak this spring, I’ll be sharing a few recipes, and popping on both their and my insta-stories to answer your burning nutrition questions. You can also head to their blog to learn more about the nutrition in mustard greens.
April’s theme is fun little riff on April Fools Day - Not So Hidden Greens! This one is for you parents (or partners!) who have been hiding greens in dishes in an attempt to get your family to eat them.
When I was a new dietitian, a really popular cookbook came out teaching parents how to hide spinach in brownies, cauliflower in mac and cheese, and zucchini into meatballs. Knowing parents who are worried about their kids turning up their nose at veggies, I can see why it was such a hit.
Sneaking in fruits and veggies isn’t a totally awful idea – it is one way to help growing kids get more nutrients. But also, kids still think they’re eating brownies, mac and cheese and meatballs – not fruits and veggies – so they’re not learning to enjoy produce because they’ve never been exposed to them. That’s especially true if they find out your little secret ;) I know my parent readers all want their children to grow up to be intuitive eaters. Sneaking foods chips away at trust and introduces diet mentality at an early age.
Kids really need to be exposed to intact produce so they can start to associate positive eating experiences with fruits and veggies. It may take 8-15 exposures to a new food before a child will consistently eat it. Those exposures can be a simple as having a food on their plate without being forced to eat it, or seeing a parent neutrally or positively eating a food. Here’s some more ideas to make fruits and veggies more acceptable to kids:
Cook vegetables with a little fat versus steaming, boiling or serving them raw.
Mix or pair vegetables with a sauce or dressing they already like.
Mix into a dish they already like, for example chopped kale visibly in spaghetti and meatballs, or collards in their favorite chicken soup.
Make veggies interactive, like cutting them into fries and serving with a dip.
Get kids to help you prepare them. Stemming and tearing greens and measuring are both kid friendly tasks.
If all else fails, add cheese!
Bitter greens like mustards might seem like a tough sell, but your kids might surprise you with this recipe for mustard green and sausage orecchiette. To balance the slightly bitter mustard greens, I used sweet caramelized onions and sweet Italian sausage. I can’t think of any kids who don’t like pasta, especially when you use orecchiette, which have a fun ear-like shape. It’s a simple, family-friendly recipe that takes two pots and less than 30 minutes to make!
If you’re making this for an adult audience, I like to add ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed chili flakes for spice. It’s also tasty if you deglaze the pan with white wine instead of broth.
Mustard Green and Sausage Orecchiette
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage
½ yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
8 ounces Nature’s Greens mustard greens
Parmesan, pecorino, or mizithra (a semi-hard Greek cheese), grated, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook orecchiette according to package instructions. Drain, reserving ¾ cup starchy cooking water, and set pasta aside until ready to use.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add sausage, crumbling with the back of a spatula, and cook until browned. Carefully remove cooked sausage from skillet and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Heat remaining olive oil in the same skillet on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic cloves and cook for a minute. Add broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom to deglaze. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed.
Add mustard greens to the skillet along with ¼ cup of water. Stir, cover and cook 6 minutes until greens are tender and wilted. Uncover, add sausage, and continue to cook until most of the water is absorbed.
Stir in cooked pasta and enough starchy cooking liquid to make a sauce. Serve garnished with grated cheese.