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What to Do with Overcooked Greens (& a Reason to Overcook Them in the First Place)

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You chopped, say, four cups of kale (or spinach or collards or turnips greens), heated a slick of olive oil in a skillet, and added the greens. But, despite every intention to cook them until just tender, oh no! Time got away. The kale is soggy. Sad, right? Wrong!

Kale Pesto Orecchiette
Kale Pesto Orecchiette

At least not according to cookbook author Deborah Madison, who understands kale goes from kinda tough to mushy "in a single unwatched moment." In her most recent vegetable compendium, Vegetable Literacy, she offers this:

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If it does get overcooked, consider making a pesto, working the drained cooked greens into pounded garlic, pine nuts, and salt in a mortar.

And while you could do this, Madison offers something a little less classic (and, perhaps, a bit more intriguing), a few pages later: Kale Pesto with Dried Mushrooms and Rosemary. When you think about it, the mushrooms only make sense, adding the same sort umami cheese would. Here's how to make it (for further pesto inspiration, head here):

Simple Vegan Pesto
Simple Vegan Pesto
  • Cover dried mushrooms in boiling water and set aside to rehydrate. (Madison uses 4 large slices of dried porcini.)
  • Sauté about 4 slices of onion, 1 clove of sliced garlic, and a couple teaspoons of minced rosemary in a slick of olive oil until the onion softens.
  • Add 4 cups of stemmed kale leaves (you could surely use other sturdy greens instead), season with salt, and add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Cover the pan and cook until the kale is tender.
  • Let this cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor until smooth, adding more olive oil as needed to reach your desired consistency.

Madison suggests spreading the pesto on a crostini along with ricotta cheese or stirring it into vegetable soup like minestrone. Here are some more ideas for how to use it (and all other future soggy greens pesto):

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Tags: greens