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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008 04:50 am

Now eat your greens

Give your full attention to roots and crucifers

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Untitled Document It’s time to press the restart button on our bodies, our minds, ourselves. Although I’m not one to declare weight-loss resolutions for the new year, I do like to take stock of my dietary inventory and make some adjustments. I don’t know about you, but it feels like a zillion years since I last had my fair share of green vegetables. This cannot be good. With all that tinsel in your eye, you probably missed the memo that winter has arrived, which means giving our full attention to roots and crucifers, the only vegetables that have the cojones to endure the cold weather. If you’ve been off the veggie wagon for longer than you care to remember, I can imagine it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to ask for an hour-plus of your time for the slow-cooking of sweet potatoes and other earthy tubers. And I suppose you could argue the same thing with some of those hearty greens in the Brassica family such as collards, mustards, and cabbage, that they require more time than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and that that just isn’t going to work. Well, here’s one that will. Meet tatsoi (a.k.a. tai koo choi in Asian markets), a ruffly green beauty queen in the Brassica brigade that takes — get this — five minutes to prepare. Tender enough to eat raw and mild enough to take on several kinds of flavor direction, tatsoi cooks and tastes much like our nation’s beloved spinach.
In fact, tatsoi is so quick-cooking that it can be whipped up during a commercial break, and everyone — your body, your mind, your self — will be happier, healthier and maybe just a little bit leaner for it.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
Wilted Tatsoi with Mustardy Vinaigrette Adapted from Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini, by Elizabeth Schneider
About 1 pound tatsoi 2 scallions 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt 3 tablespoons olive oil
Trim tatsoi stems and separate leaves. Rinse in several changes of water, checking for grit. Dry thoroughly. Clean scallions and slice off roots. With your knife, separate the lighter-colored bulbs from the darker-green tops. Mince the bulbs and, in a small bowl, combine with lemon juice, mustard, and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Whisk in the oil. Thinly slice the scallion greens and reserve them for garnish.
Pour the dressing into a wide skillet and set it over moderate heat. Add the tatsoi leaves, and with a pair of tongs turn the leaves to coat them with vinaigrette.
Cook until the leaves are almost wilted but the stems retain crunch (about two minutes). Add the scallion greens and toss. Serve immediately. Makes four side-dish servings.
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