Whistling Train Farm‘s owners, Mike and Shelley Verdi, challenge us to try something new once in a while in the way of greens, so when I saw their chrysanthemum greens last weekend I decided to go for it.
But first, what the heck are they? I’ve probably eaten them often without realizing it since they’re routinely used in Japanese and Chinese stir-fry. Chrysanthemum greens are related to the flowers we’re familiar with, and at least some are edible. Referred to as edible or cooking chrysanthemum greens, Japanese greens, chop suey greens, shingiku, kikuna, tong hao and more – the list of names is extensive since it’s a green that’s used in cooking throughout Asia. Rich in vitamin B and minerals, they’re used in both soups and salads. I was told that the flowers are sometimes eaten to confer good health and long life.
I made a stir-fry using the chrysanthemum greens and other veggies that I had around, along with lots of garlic stirred together quickly in hot peanut oil and served immediately. My grandmother would have sprinkled it all with cider vinegar before consuming any pile of greens, so I splashed on my own version of that and felt satisfied as these healthy greens entered my system and began their organic cellular dance.
Here’s how I did it: (Chrysanthemum greens are the dark green in the back of the wok.)
Use whatever is fresh, seasonal and youngish, i.e. on the tender side. I combined one bunch each of baby bok choy from Willie Greens, spinach from Stoney Plains Farm, and chrysanthemum greens from Whistling Train Farm along with one of their spring onions; a handful of sugar peas and three cloves of thinly sliced garlic from my backyard. Other combinations, or just one of these alone would be great. Use a wok if you have one, or a good-sized skillet. Heat peanut, canola or safflower oil until it’s piping hot. Sauté the garlic for just a few seconds before adding everything else. Toss vigorously for a couple of minutes, turn the heat down a touch, sprinkle with soy and a few drops of sesame oil if you like. This makes about four servings. Toss into a big bowl and behold the mixed green splendor. Add a little tofu or chicken, a couple of eggs, serve it with rice and it’s a mostly local meal.
I stood there admiring the steaming collage of greens, which look crazy wild, but are delicious. I took a picture and then we ate ‘em up in-between jumping up and down as the Mariners eeked out a win against Toronto at the last minute.
What’s for dessert? Maybe another victory.