Friday, November 25, 2011

More on leafy greens and tomatoes

Expanding a little on today’s Washington Post “Cooking Off the Cuff” - - I should say that until a couple of years ago I was strangely repelled by the idea of adding tomatoes to leafy green vegetables of any kind. It just seemed creepy. Even the sauces for my favorite versions of stuffed cabbage were sauerkraut-based and tomato-free; tomato with stuffed cabbage, perhaps, was a reminder of too many dreadful bar mitzvah receptions.

            But then, during an e-mail exchange, a friend assured me that greens like Swiss chard and the various kales are perfectly happy to coexist with tomatoes and that I should do as millions of other people do and give it a whirl. So I did, and of course the outcome was delicious. What you need to pay attention to (as ever) is the salt: you must make sure that there’s enough to balance the acidity added by the tomatoes. Once you’ve taken care of that, you’re fine.

            On balance, I still prefer the less complicated flavors of my old standby greens: a little garlic and chili, perhaps some guanciale or pancetta, and plenty of olive oil, both as a cooking fat and, uncooked, as a last-minute finishing touch. But, as I found by combining Tuscan kale / cavolo nero with a fairly classic sauce for pasta all’amatriciana, a well balanced dish of greens with tomatoes is a grand thing.

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