One of my all-time favorite vegetable recipes has to be Alton Brown’s Mustard Green Gratin. The recipe starts with mustard greens… and at that, hopefully some of you didn’t stop reading already.
You may be thinking meh…
Or maybe ew gross…
And trust me, I was skeptical, too. At first.
But the thing is, the greens get coated in a creamy blend of ricotta and Parmesan, then topped with crackers (*cough* Ritz brand *cough*) and baked in the oven. When you dig your fork in, you get buttery cracker crumbs, then a bite of a-little-crunchy-but-creamy greens… and soon enough, you find yourself going back for a second serving.
If you weren’t a fan of mustard greens before, after this you will be.
Since I’m a firm believer that garlic, onions, and extra cheese makes everything better, I’ve riffed on Alton’s recipe over the years:
Adding chopped Vidalia onion – onions, greens, and garlic are meant to be together, so I sauteed some until translucent before adding the mushrooms and greens to the recipe.
Making the recipe without the mushrooms – some people don’t like mushrooms, and if you’re one of those people then I may understand where you’re coming from: canned mushrooms are gross. Fresh mushrooms, though, are wonderful. I happen to love them, but I don’t always have them on-hand when I want to make this recipe, in which case I omit them.
More greens, please – for those on the fence about mustard greens, I’ve tried experimenting with different combinations. Mustard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard is one of my favorite blends.
This year, Dave and I planted what turned out to be an abundant (read: the damn plants are gigantic) amount of lacinato (Tuscan) kale and collard greens. So, with our garden overflowing with greens, another riff on this favorite recipe was born.
The total recipe calls for about a pound of greens, so I’ll split the amount roughly among the three varieties.
- 1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms (optional) Can substitute button mushrooms or omit
- 1 pound mixed greens Thoroughly washed, stemmed if necessary, and cut into shreds. Suggest either mustard greens, spinach and Swiss chard; or mustard greens, kale, and collard greens.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese Can substitute 3 cheese or 4 cheese Italian blend. (Suggested: Sargento)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup crushed butter crackers (Suggested: Ritz)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and prepare the greens: thoroughly wash the greens either by rinsing as necessary under cold water or filling a sink with cold water and submerging the leaves in water, tossing the leaves around to remove any sand or other debris which will fall to the bottom of the sink. Spin in a salad spinner or pat dry with towels to remove as much moisture as possible (some is ok, as long as the leaves aren't soaking wet).
Depending on your combination of greens, you can thinly slice the Swiss chard stems and leave any tender stems on the spinach, but remove the tough, center stems from the mustard greens, collard greens, and kale. Do this by either cutting down the length of the stem vertically or tearing the greens from the stem. Discard the stems.
Slice the larger greens into ribbons (chiffonade). An easy way to do this is to stack 3-4 mustard greens, collard greens, kale, or swiss chard leaves on top of one another and roll up from the long edge (like a cigar), then slice across to make long ribbons.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 teaspoon each pepper and salt (or to taste), and crushed cracker crumbs.
In a large bowl, crack and beat eggs. Whisk ricotta cheese, remaining parmesan, and remaining mozzarella with the eggs. Add 1/2 teaspoon each pepper and salt (or to taste), whisk again and set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or saute pan. Add chopped onions and garlic, and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. If using, add mushrooms and cook for another 4 minutes.
Add washed and shredded greens, one handful at a time, to the pan, stirring to combine. Cover the pan and let the greens wilt, approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove pan from burner and let cool about 5 minutes.
Add the greens to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture, stir to combine. Transfer to your prepared baking dish, and top with the crushed crackers and cheese mixture.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.