Call it the perfect Venn diagram for cold-weather dining: First, there’s Southern food, which continues to be a popular menu trend all over the country. Then, there’s the New Year’s resolution/clean eating phenomenon that takes hold this time of year. And sitting right in the perfect center of those overlapping culinary desires is a fresh, hearty bowl of sautéed greens.
One chef who can speak to the burgeoning popularity of this greens-forward cuisine is Jolie Oree-Bailey, executive chef and owner of Low Country Quisine, based outside Dallas, Texas. She grew up spending summers and holidays with her grandparents in Charleston, South Carolina, which is also known as “Low Country.” “My grandparents were both culinary professionals, and that’s where I learned to cook,” Oree-Bailey says. She started her catering company in 2009, describing its focus as “authentic Southern food, beautifully presented with a modern point of view.” Recently she’s added a brick-and-mortar location with a café, takeaway counter and delivery service.
The enterprise began with family recipes Oree-Bailey developed while watching her grandparents cook. “They never wrote anything down, so I needed to observe and taste,” she says. One of her grandparents’ go-to ingredients was greens. “They regularly incorporated cabbage into our weekly meals, but it was not just run-of-the-mill steamed cabbage. In the Low Country, we call it Fried Cabbage. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.”
These days, Oree-Bailey has braised cabbage on her menu as a nod to her grandparents. “We add smoked sausage and turkey and serve it with steamed white rice. It’s a very rustic and hearty dish, really a meal by itself,” she says. The recipe is an eye-opener for her Texan customers: “On the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, cabbage served with rice is pretty normal. Here in Texas, it’s a bit out of the norm, but when it’s on our cafe menu paired with our Smoked Meatloaf, our customers can’t get enough of it.”
She has some tips to for braising cabbage in this way: “I always try to make sure I’ve cut out all the core, because it takes longer to break down and is a little bitter. But it’s great to use the leftover core to make vegetable stock.”
Interested in other ways to serve greens? Try sautéed spinach, kale or collard greens, or add a twist with more unusual options like chard, turnip greens or mustard greens. If you’ve already got carrot and beet tops, don’t toss them out—reduce food waste and increase profit by using them in a sautéed greens dish.
Life after kale: 10 leafy green alternatives from Huffington Post
Looking for more recipe ideas and menu inspiration?
Make sure to check out our recipe section.