Also known as mustard greens, mustard is especially popular in southern states. This plant is a pungent winter vegetable, abundant when many other vegetables are not in season. Mustard greens can be eaten raw or cooked. The whole plant can be cut at once or individual outer leaves can be picked for a cut-and-come-again harvest. The younger the leaves, the milder the flavor; these are the best ones to eat raw. Older leaves taste better when prepared as cooked greens. For a really peppery bite of flavor, try ‘Ruby Streaks’ or ‘Red Mustard’ varieties.
Store unwashed greens in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They will keep for about three days. Wrap in moist paper towels for longer storage, up to five days. The flavor may intensify in the refrigerator during the longer five-day storage.
If you plan right and take advantage of the cool months, your winter vegetable garden can produce a bountiful harvest that will go straight into the cooking pot or oven. Some of my favorite dishes to make with most of the ingredients coming from my winter vegetable garden include split pea soup (split peas, celery, carrots, chicken broth), broccoli casserole (broccoli, onions, mushrooms, cheese, milk, eggs), baked carrots (carrots, onions, chicken broth), and homemade chicken soup.
So what special dishes will you cook up from your garden this year?