Eat Your Greens: Any Green!
If you stroll through just about any farmers market, you’ll see signs announcing leafy greens you’ve probably never heard of: Tuscan black kale, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard greens, turnip greens, even wrinkled, crinkled, crumpled cress. The odd names and odd look of these greens put some people off, but don’t let them deter you!
Greens come in just about every flavor, from sweet and mild (choy, chard, lettuce) to earthy and peppery (arugula, mizuna, cress), but all are amazingly delicious and nutritious. If you need more reasons to give them a try, here are my top five:
Top Five Reasons to Eat Your Greens
#5 – Nutrition Powerhouse. Greens are rich in essential vitamins, vital minerals, cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals, and overall food value. The highest nutrition bang for your buck are greens in the Brassica family, such as kale, cabbage, collards, arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, and all the chois.
# 4 – Calcium. Greens are high in calcium, which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth, and prevents osteoporosis. One serving of turnip greens has three times as much calcium as a glass of milk, so if you’re going vegan or dairy-free, go green!
# 3 – Fat-free and Guilt-free. Greens are fat-free and naturally low in calories. Unlike manufactured no-cal or low-cal drinks or foods, they leave you satisfied because of all the nutrients and fiber they provide. But because many of the vitamins greens contain are fat-soluble, you should cook them in butter or olive oil to absorb all their goodness.
# 2 – In-season all season. Greens of one sort or another are are in-season from April through November – and all winter, too, if your local farmer grows them in a hoophouse.
# 1 – Greens are delicious! Considering the huge variety of greens that local farmers are now growing, you’re sure to find ones that suit your taste buds.
Quick and Easy Sauteed Any Green
When someone asks me what to do with an unusual leafy green, I invariably answer, “Sauté with a little garlic or onion.” It really is that simple—and delicious. And it works for any kind of green— from spinach to collards to wrinkled, crinkled, crumpled cress.
Be sure to use the stems from your greens as well as the leaves—if they’re from a local
farmer they will almost always be as tender as the greens. If not, add them to the pan
first and cook for a few minutes before adding the leaves.
1 bunch of any green (about a pound)
2 garlic cloves or 1 small onion or shallot
2 Tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the greens and chop them roughly.
2. Peel and chop the garlic, onion, or shallot.
3. Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the onion or garlic,
and cook until just soft, not browned.
4. Add the greens and salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn
bright green and begin to soften. This will take from about 2 to 5 minutes,
depending on the green, so keep watching and tasting.
5. When done, transfer your greens to a serving plate or bowl. If you want to get fancy, dress up your greens by tossing with pine nuts or raisins, adding a few drops of hot sauce, or grating some cheese on top before serving. You can also garnish with the flowers of your late season greens!
Seasonal Cook’s Notes:
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main course.
© The Land Connection Foundation
The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers’ market or CSA nearest you, visit www.localharvest.org.
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.