Bitter Greens with Tofu and Sesame

Surely I’m not alone when I say this, but I’d never had turnip greens. Until today.

I left our CSA pickup site this afternoon with a couple of bags filled with locally raised produce and meat. Among them:  grass-feed beef, bok choy,  strawberries and blueberry preserves. And turnip greens.

I learned to love greens 10 years ago while living in Little Rock. Collards, kale and mustard greens are prolific in the South. They’re sooooo amazingly nutritious. But delicious? Yes, they can be. This recipe isn’t pork-seasoned, like a traditional southern dish. It’s filled with Asian flavor. If you haven’t tried bitter greens, give this recipe a whirl. The combination of soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and garlic  eliminates the bitterness of the greens. The tofu is soaked with the flavor. The greens quickly cook down to almost nothing. Be sure to use a full two pounds of greens. Anything less will leave you wanting more.

I’ve used mustard, kale and dandelion greens in this dish — all work great. This time I used the bok choy and turnip greens. The turnip greens really were great and reminded me of collards. Uncooked, the leaves are prickly and tough. A few minutes in the frying pan made them soft and full of citrus and soy flavor.

Bitter Greens with Tofu and Sesame
adapted, just barely, from Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes

1 one-pound block extra-firm tofu (I used a 12-ounce block)
3 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili paste or hot sauce (optional)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds bitter greens, such as turnip greens, collard, mustard, baby bok choy, dandelion, washed, trimmed, and torn into pieces
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then cut each piece across into six slices. Place the tofu on a paper-towel-lined plate. (Use a double layer). Cover with more paper towel; place another plate on top. Weight with a few soup cans. Chill 30 minutes so the towels absorb excess water.

In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste or hot sauce (if using), lime juice, ginger, and garlic. Set aside. Transfer the tofu to a medium bowl; toss with half the marinade, and let sit for 30 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, arrange the tofu in a single later in the pan. Repeat with the remaining tofu. Gradually add the greens to the skillet with the remaining marinade. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the greens are wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the platter with the tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.

Serves 4


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