Honey-Sesame Steamed Greens

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Jennifer Pallian
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steamed-greens

If you follow me on Twitter (@foodessdotcom), or on instagram (foodess) you probably know that I am moving. *cue horror music.

I think uprooting your life and then replanting in a new location tends to frazzle even the most composed person. For me, the general moving stressors of packing and cleaning and just being unsettled are compounded by the fact that I really don't like change. Don't get me wrong - I am big-time excited to move into our new home, with a brand new kitchen, in a great neighbourhood. It's just that I take tremendous comfort in traditions and predictability. Like how I made my best friend (also named Jenn) eat pancakes every time we had a sleepover between the ages of twelve to twenty-five. She really didn't like pancakes, but she humoured me. See why we're best friends?

My dog doesn't like change even more than I don't like it. He stopped eating for 3 days when our things started going in boxes. I would never go that far...

Oliver

How sad are those eyes?

Whenever something stressful is happening in my life, I become completely obsessed with something else to avoid thinking about it. Do you ever do that?

For example, during the week of the move I was struck by the sudden inspiration to get elbow deep into a new all-consuming art project. The newspapers I was supposed to use for packing instead were used to drop-cloth the floor.

Then several boxes were sacrificed when I developed an immediate need to build a DIY softbox for photography. (All the photos in this post were taken using it!)

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Anyway, now we are all settled in to our new place. And by "settled in" I mean nestled in among boxes piled to the ceiling, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and reading by candlelight because we sold all our lamps and have yet to replace them. At least I am no longer drinking out of the sugar bowl and using a facecloth as an oven mitt.

Only one room is unpacked, and that is the kitchen! Surprise surprise. It was partially out of necessity, seeing as I cook for my job. But in great part it was due to the moving-week overdose of chinese takeout and pizza. There's only so much of that stuff you can eat before you start to itch for something of a bit more nutritional value.

Happily, the new apartment is walking distance to a Whole Foods, bursting with green leafy veggies. From this, I bring you the antidote to moving-week fare - bright, lightly steamed mixed greens dressed in honey, soy and garlic and showered with crunchy toasted sesame seeds. Simple, healthy, and heavy on the delicious. Really - this is another one that could convert veggie haters.

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This recipe was inspired by the steamed greens at the deli counter of Capers, a Vancouver natural foods store. I like mine at room temperature, making it a great side dish to take to a BBQ or picnic in the summer, but it also works hot - you simply skip the ice bath step and dress the drained greens while they're warm.

Use a single green vegetable or any combination you like - I often combine broccoli, spinach and kale to get a variety of textures. It is also perfect with more bitter options like rapini (a.k.a. broccoli raab) or asian greens like gai lan, as the sweetness of the honey offsets their sharpness.

When steaming a combination of vegetables, start with the tougher ones like broccoli, adding the more delicate leafy greens a couple of minutes later so that they are all cooked at the same time. Be sure to remove as much water as possible, to minimize dilution of the dressing.

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I used the "microwave method" for toasting the sesame seeds - just spread them out on a plate and microwave on high power in 2 minute intervals until golden and fragrant (about 4-5 minutes total). Be very careful when removing from microwave, as the plate itself will get hot. This works for any nuts or seeds - bigger ones like cashews and whole almonds just take more time.

Honey-Sesame Steamed Greens

Serves 4.

  • 2 tbsp canola (or other neutral) oil

  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

  • 2 tsp honey

  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes

  • 6 cups chopped greens, stems discarded (like kale, broccoli, spinach, bok choy, swiss chard, rapini, etc.)

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  • salt, to taste

1. To make dressing, whisk together oils, honey, soy sauce, garlic and chili flakes. Set aside.

2. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.

3. Cook the greens in a lidded steamer set over an inch of rapidly boiling water until they are bright green. Plunge immediately in the ice bath, then transfer to a colander to drain, pressing on them gently with paper towels to remove as much water as possible.

4. Toss the greens with the dressing and add salt to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.