As children we don’t usually like to eat vegetables, but as we grow up we become accustomed to their presence at the table and even grow to like them. There are some vegetables, however, that many adults are still unfamiliar with and don’t find appetizing. I decided to find out more about a certain branch of these vegetables, leafy greens, as I heard more and more about their impressive health benefits. I decided to say yes to these vegetables for my health as well as the sake of this blog, and thus once a week for the past three months you could find me standing in front of the “leafy greens” section of Safeway, carefully reading the names of these unknown greens and trying to discern which bunch of leaves goes with which sign. Kale, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, bok choy, turnip greens, cabbages, collard greens, escarole, arugula, and the list goes on!
With little to no knowledge of these vegetables, I began choosing one at random each week and looking up recipes once I got home. I have been mostly unimaginative so far, sautéing or steaming them, because I want to master the basics before I get into the realm of gratins and such. Below are the greens that I have tried so far:
Swiss chard: bitter but super-nutritious. In California it grows well in the cooler seasons, but it is also one of the few vegetables that grows well in the summer heat too (www.garden.org), so enjoy it year-round! I sliced the leaves off of the stems, which are tough and bitter, and sauteed them with some olive oil and salt. Served as a side dish, it was delicious and nutritious!
Kale: Chopping the leaves of this dark green veggie increases the availability of sulforaphane, believed to be an anti-cancer nutrient, while boiling it reduces it. I sliced it and sauteed it with olive oil, onions and salt, but it was sort of tough and bitter as its own side dish. Next time, I would mix it with something else like in a stir fry or in a soup.
Dandelion greens: They looked unappealing in the grocery store bin, more like something I would rip out of my backyard and put on the curb for Davis’ green waste collection than something I would cook with. Nevertheless, dandelion greens are a good source of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, Riboflavin, calcium, iron, and potassium (www.nutritiondata.self.com). I tore the leaves into small pieces and used them in a salad with an Asian dressing (olive oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, ), and the sweet and salty character of the dressing almost masked the bitterness of the leaves.
Collard greens: Even though both of my parents are from Virginia and I’ve been going back there twice a year for the past 20 years, I had never had collard greens. I chopped and steamed the greens, and ate them with balsamic vinegar. Yum!
Bok choy: Last but not least is bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage. This is one of my favorites so far because of its mild flavor. Like all of the other leafy greens, it is rich in many nutrients, especially Vitamins A, K and C (www.nutirion-and-you.com). I used it in a salad and I also sauteed it with olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, and sliced almonds. Delish