I grew up watching a cooking show called “The Urban Peasant,” hosted by James Barber. I liked his show because he always talked about making tasty meals with whatever you have on hand, no need to shop for special ingredients. His motto was “if you have it put it in; if you don’t have it, don’t put it in.” This has become a big part of how I cook. I tend to work off basoc templates rather than hardcore recipes.
One such template is for sautéed greens, prepared as follows:
Wash and chop up leafy vegetables of various kinds. Preferably, mix greens from different plant families. For example:
- brassicas (kale leaves/florettes, broccoli, kakina, komatsuna, cabbage, arugula…)
- spinach family (spinach, swiss chard, beet greens…)
- carrot family (parsely, lovage, italian parsely, cilantro, lovage…)
- lettuce family (lettuce, shungiku…)
Put some oil in the pan and turn on the heat. (I like to use coconut oil or olive oil). Add something aromatic and stir it around a bit. This could be cumin seeds, minced garlic, curry paste, mustard seeds or something else.
Add a handful of the chopped leafy greens and stir a bit. Repeat until all the greens are in. If you like, add some cooked beans. Add salt or soy sauce or fish sauce or something else salty to taste. Stir some more until the greens are as cooked as you like them (I err on the side of rather cooked); or put on the lid and lower or turn off the heat and let it sit until the greens are as cooked as you like them. At the end you can add more oil if you prefer (I often add extra olive oil at the end rather than the beginning since high heat destroys some of olive oils benefits).
My most recent rendition of this basic recipe was kale leaves, kale florettes, and lovage with cumin seeds and soy beans sautéed in olive oil. I seasoned it with soy sauce and chinkiang vinegar, and ate it on rice.
I’ve often wondered how to describe my style of cooking when people ask me for a recipe of some dish I’ve made. This is one attempt to describe my non-recipe. Please let me know what you think!