This quick and easy recipe for Thai-style sauteed greens with coconut milk is a super healthy and nutritious side dish! It can be made with swiss chard, collard greens, kale or spinach and gets a delicious Asian zing from fish sauce and chiles.
How do you guys feel about side dishes? I tend to be in the camp that just quickly sautées or roasts some vegetables (usually with just olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes) and calls it a day. If I'm feeling fancy, I miiiight toss said veggies with some magical green sauce.
That, or my entire meal is served up in a bowl combining my protein and veggies all in one glorious dish that is best all mixed together and eaten on the couch while binge watching whatever my latest Netflix obsession is.
Bowl life is just so much easier than trying to come up with equally unique, healthy and delicious side dishes to pair with your entree. Ain't nobody got time for that!
That was until I discovered sauteed greens with coconut milk. The all-things-Asian-food-lover in me cannot get enough of this amazing side, which is super quick and easy to whip up and is bursting with so much delicious flavor I can hardly stand it. Take a look:
These Thai-style sauteed greens are full of intoxicating aromatics, from shallots, garlic and ginger to two different kinds of chiles (jalapenos and red pepper flakes), scallions, lime juice and the key ingredient that give it its punchy, bright, oh-my-god-what-is-that flavor: fish sauce .
It's all cooled down and made super creamy and delicious with coconut milk. HEAVENLY!
Here's the deal with fish sauce: people are weird about fish sauce. On the one hand, I get it. It's the liquid extracted from fermented fish. To the basic American palette, it's weird.
But you guys, fish sauce is the secret to adding incredible salty, savory, umami flavor to any dish.
It's the reason why we love Southeast Asian dishes (if you don't, I honestly think you might want to get your taste buds checked out 😉
Fish sauce is what makes a dish sing, what brings it to life and makes it bright and tangy and addicting.
For the uninitiated, I would not recommend opening a jar of fish sauce and taking a whiff. It's…er, an acquired smell, to be sure. And while there's an ever-so-slight seafood taste to it, fish sauce really more about the salt, and when fermented long enough, imparts more of a nutty, rich and savory flavor.
Don't be scared. Buy a bottle of Red Boat–it's sold at nearly all conventional grocery stores now and if you're a member of Thrive Market, my favorite online food retailer, you can get a bottle for just $6.95 (a little goes a long way)–and give it a try.
While you're at it, get you some delicious coconut milk–I highly recommend reading your labels to make sure your coconut milk is not only organic, but also contains little to no added ingredients of any kind, from sugars to gums and lab-manipulated “flavor”.
It's amazing what brands will try to squeeze into their products. Take SO Delicious coconut milk. Here's the ingredient list: Organic Coconut Milk (Water, Organic Coconut Cream), Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Organic Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D2, L-Selenomethionine (Selenium), Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.
THAT'S 12 INGREDIENTS!!!
Likewise, Silk's Coconut Milk is equally full of additives–in addition to an unnecessary Vitamin and Mineral Blend (coconut milk is plenty nutritious on its own!), it contains Sunflower Lecithin, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum and “Natural Flavor”.
You know what would really be natural? Just using the actual natural flavor of pure coconut milk, and not trying to recreate it in some lab.
Plus, why would you even want anything in your coconut milk other than the delicious, nutritious milk from coconuts? Yes, most of these gums have properties that emulsify, thicken, and stabilize, but they're also not necessary and have been proven to cause digestive distress, bacterial growth issues, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, and even cancer (source).
So make sure you read your labels. I recommend Native Forest Simple Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk, which contains only Organic Coconut Milk (organic coconut, purified water). It's also just $2.85 on Thrive Market, if you needed another reason to become a member (you can enter to win a $1,000 shopping spree with Thrive here!).
These Thai greens, which are chockfull of Vitamin A and C, bursting with healthy fats, and a great source of fiber, iron and calcium, make the perfect side dish to pair with my Thai Grilled Chicken recipe (pictured above).
Saute the greens (I love using rainbow chard, but you can also use regular chard, collards, spinach, kale or whatever green you heart desires, including a combo of all of the above) while the chicken is on the grill and you'll have one of the most flavorful meals on the dinner table in less than 20 minutes. YES!
If you try this recipe, let us know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag the recipe #rootandrevel/@rootandrevel on Instagram.
Thai-Style Sauteed Greens with Coconut Milk
- 1 heaping tablespoon organic coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon organic red pepper flakes
- 1 organic jalapeno, diced
- 2 large organic scallions, sliced
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 3 bunches greens, stems removed and roughly chopped (I recommend rainbow chard, but you could use spinach, collards or any kind of green you prefer)
- 1/4 cup organic, unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 lime, juiced
- salt and pepper , to taste
- In a large skillet (I recommend Lodge cast iron), heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, jalapeno, scallions and shallot and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until soft and aromatic.
- Add the greens, 1-2 cups at a time, and saute until wilted and soft, about 2 minutes per batch.
- Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce, tossing to combine. Garnish with lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser