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Love Those Leafy Greens All Year Long

Sauté, blanch, or boil these versatile leaves and expand your vegetable horizons
Love Those Leafy Greens All Year Long: Main Image
Greens vary widely in taste and appearance

Move over spinach—the greens are here! Beetroot greens, bok choy, broccoli raab, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. Humble and often over-looked, leafy greens are super-nutritious. According to Steven Pratt, MD, coauthor of super-foods, dark leafy greens, like their cousin spinach, provide a “synergy of multiple nutrients/phytonutrients” including essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids. A bonus: greens are utterly simple to prepare and available all the year round.

Find your favourites

All in the family, yet different, greens vary widely in taste and appearance. Check out these easy-to-find varieties:

  • Beetroot greens—Leafy tops cut from beetroot have delicate flavour similar to Swiss chard when quickly boiled, steamed, or sautéed.
  • Bok choy—Commonly found with crunchy white stalks and dark green leaves; mildly flavoured, eaten raw or cooked; perfectly complemented by Asian seasonings.
  • Broccoli raab—Smaller than regular broccoli, but with more leaves, smaller flowerets, and a gently bitter taste.
  • Collard greens—A type of cabbage with large, flat, paddle-shaped leaves; a traditional “soul food” staple boiled a long time with ham hocks or bacon.
  • Kale—A colourful member of the cabbage family with wrinkled, blue- or purple-tinged leaves; remove tough centre stem and prepare like spinach.
  • Mustard greens—Another popular ingredient with a peppery taste and bright green leaves (or many different colours in the Chinese varieties).
  • Swiss chard—A beetroot family member with dark green wrinkled leaves and reddish (rhubarb chard), pale green, or multicolored stems, with a rich, earthy taste.

Stir it up

Easy and fast, stir-frying greens—just long enough to wilt the leaves—is a flavourful preparation method. Use one kind or a mixture according to what’s in season. Buy 1 1/2 to 2 (680 to 907 g) pounds to serve four people.

  • Thoroughly wash leaves, discarding any discolored ones, and trim stem ends. Coarsely chop leaves and stems.
  • In a large sauté saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil over high heat. Add 2 cloves chopped fresh garlic and stir until golden. Add prepared greens and toss to coat with oil, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Sprinkle with salt to taste and continue tossing greens until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve as a side dish, or use as a bed for grilled fish or chicken.

For some other good greens, try Braised Greens with Lots of Garlic, and Penne with Chard, Tomatoes, and White Beans.

Judith H. Dern, an independent writer living in Seattle, WA, enjoys the rainbow-coloured Swiss chard she finds at her neighbourhood farmers market.