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Happy New Year, Now Eat Your Greens

Get back on the veggie wagon



The party is (finally) over. At last, we can push those holiday pots off the front burner and press the restart button on our bodies, our minds, ourselves. Although I'm not one to declare weight-loss new year's resolutions, I do like to take stock of my dietary inventory and make some more nutritious adjustments.

I don't know about you, but it feels like a zillion years since I last had my fair share of green vegetables. This cannot be good. With all that tinsel in your eye, you probably missed the memo that winter has arrived, which means giving our full attention to roots and crucifers, the only vegetables that have the cajones to endure the cold weather.

If you've been off the veggie wagon for longer than you care to remember, I can imagine it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to ask for an hour-plus of your time for the slow cooking of sweet potatoes and other earthy tubers. And I suppose you could argue the same thing with some of those hearty greens in the Brassica family such as collards, mustards and cabbage, that they require more time than an episode of Grey's Anatomy and that just isn't going to work.

Well, here's one that will. Meet tatsoi (aka tai koo choi in Asian markets), a ruffly green beauty queen in the Brassica brigade that takes -- get this -- five minutes to prepare. Tender enough to eat raw and mild enough to take on several kinds of flavor direction, tatsoi cooks and tastes much like our nation's beloved spinach.

In fact, tatsoi is so quick-cooking it can be whipped up during a commercial break, and everyone -- your body, your mind, your self -- will be happier, healthier and maybe just a little bit leaner.

Wilted Tatsoi with Mustardy Vinaigrette

Adapted from Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider

About 1 pound tatsoi

2 scallions

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Trim tatsoi stems and separate leaves. Rinse in several changes of water, checking for grit. Dry thoroughly.Clean scallions and slice off root. With your knife, separate lighter-colored bulb from darker-green tops. Mince bulbs, and in a small bowl, combine with lemon juice, mustard and salt, stirring until salt is dissolved. Whisk in oil. Thinly slice scallion greens and reserve for garnish.Pour dressing into a wide skillet and set over moderate heat. Add tatsoi leaves, and with a pair of tongs, turn to coat them with vinaigrette.Cook until leaves are almost wilted but stems retain crunch (about 2 minutes). Add scallion greens and toss.Serve immediately.Makes 4 side-dish servings.

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