Think of creamed spinach, only better.
Creamed greens is a great way to use up those big bunches of greens, and has become one of my favorite ways to cook them (aside from just a simple sautéing with butter and garlic). This is reminiscent of the old creamed spinach that we used to have as kids (I think it came from a box in the freezer section), but even more flavorful if made with some of the more hearty greens that are so available now. It’s super easy to make, goes with a lot of meals, and takes greens down to a texture that sometimes even the kids will eat. I think it's a great way to introduce some of the stronger flavored greens - cooking them down with butter and blending with cheese and cream tempers the flavor a bit, and the long cooking and blending helps with the texture that some people don't like.
As with most of my cooking, this is a very flexible ‘recipe’. Really it’s more of a method. Exact measurements are not necessary, and it can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes, and can accommodate all different kinds of greens.
- 3-4 bunches of greens, any kind. I like to mix kale and chard, spinach is great too. This last time I made it I had 2 big bunches of kale, 1 bunch of chard, and 1 bunch of baby broccoli.
- ½ stick of butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced.
- ¼ - ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup (or so) of cream or half & half
- A couple more tablespoons of butter.
Wash and roughly chop the greens. If they have fairly thick stems, leave the stems out. Saute all the greens, with the garlic and the salt, in the first ½ stick of butter. Let them cook for a nice long time, you want them very soft. It is always amazing to me how much these huge bunches of greens can cook down. Once the greens are well cooked, dump the whole thing into the blender. Add the cheese, the cream or half & half, and the rest of the butter. Pulse your blender to get the greens all chopped up, and get the butter, cheese and cream well mixed in. At this point it’s really about personal preference – do you want it super creamy, or do you want some texture to remain? If you want it really creamy, keep blending until it gets to the texture you like. You might have to push it down in the blender a couple of times, depending on how thick it is. You can also adjust the thickness by adding more cream or milk – if you want it a little looser, then add more cream. Taste at this point, and add additional seasoning if you think you need to. I tend to like my food pretty salty, but the cheese can be pretty salty (and butter, if you use salted butter), so for this recipe I don’t add too much salt at the beginning and I like to taste and adjust after I’ve added the cheese and butter.
And that’s basically it. I usually dump it back in my pan to keep warm until serving, and if it gets a little thicker than I want then I can stir in a little milk at this point as well.
Note that I have also done this right in my cooking pot with the immersion blender, and it works very well too. You won't get the super creamy texture that you'd get in a big high power blender, but if you're going for keeping more of the texture, then this method works great (and you don't have the big blender to wash).