Along with the faithful sardine, another commonly recommended way to get more iron and other healthy nutrients is to eat a lot of dark leafy greens: spinach, kale, chard. There are also the Southern "soul food" greens: mustard, turnip, collard, et cetera, which can be horribly bitter and overcooked — thus the need to smother them in hot sauce. But if you don't cook them as long, they can be really tasty, healthy, and still cheap.
In the pre-cut salad section at Trader Joe's, I found a one-pound bag of their Southern Greens Blend, consisting of mustard, turnip, collards, and spinach. (I've seen similar packages at other stores.) The Louisiana style greens recipe on the bag looked okay, but I wanted something...more. Something...fishy. Here's what I came up with.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- three Andoille sausages, sliced length-wise and then chopped into 1/4" thick pieces
- three cans of sardines, drained and broken apart with a fork
- fish sauce (nam pla) or worchestershire sauce
- 1 pound of chopped dark leafy greens*
- 2 cups turkey or ham broth
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- in a dutch oven, heat the olive oil
- sautee onions over medium heat until translucent
- add sausage, and cook until it begins to brown
- add sardines and a few squirts of fish sauce, and stir everything; reduce heat to medium-low and cook a few minutes, until fragrant
- add chicken broth, stir, and add greens
- simmer on low heat, covered, until the greens reduce in height by half (about 15 minutes)
- stir everything thoroughly and simmer another 10-15 minutes
- add cider vinegar and cook uncovered 3-5 minutes
- serve immediately over rice or quinoa, perhaps with cornbread
Note that this will not result in the mushy, bitter greens you may be used to; the leaves will still be distinct, chewy, and flavorful.
I borrowed the vinegar idea from the Kerala Mathi curry recipe — it somehow makes the fishy canned sardine taste less prominent, without losing the depth of flavor.
And while I haven't tried it yet, I expect you could cook the rice, quinoa, or another grain in the same pot by adding it in step 5 along with some additional broth. Another variation could be to use a different sausage — or ham, or smoked turkey. There's a lot you could do with this recipe as the starting point.