Tired of winter vegetables? Think greens
April 14, 2006
CSU Cooperative Extension Service
In addition to lightening up your calories, including more greens in your meals will add an extra helping of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that promote health and may help reduce the risk of cancer. Our cool spring Colorado weather is perfect for growing your own crop of greens. The advantages of growing your own greens are that you can control the use of chemicals like pesticides, the food is always fresh picked, and you can pick them when they’re young and avoid the bitter taste of some mature greens.
Arapahoe County Master Gardner Don Stang recommends kale and Swiss chard as two types of greens that grow almost year-round in Colorado. Arugula, beet greens, bib lettuce endive, escarole, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, and radicchio also grow well in Colorado, but theses greens grow best in spring and fall when the weather is cooler, as they tend to bolt in the summer heat. Stang says head lettuce and watercress are more difficult to grow in Colorado.
In the Denver metro area, any of the above-recommended greens can be planted in early April. If the soil is dry enough to work and reaches at least 40 degrees F during the day, seeds can germinate.
Once people start eating greens they come up with all kinds of tasty ways to prepare and serve them. Plant several different types of greens, and experiment by including them in a variety of salads, soups and side dishes.
Greens are typically high in Beta-carotene and, depending on the type, they can also be a good source of dietary vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium and lutein. Greens are also low in calories, with 18 to 40 calories per serving, and a good source of dietary fiber. For maximum nutrient content, eat within two days of harvest. Store harvested greens, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash well before serving.
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Reprinted with permission from “The Phytopia Cook Book … A World of Plant-Centered Cuisine,” by Barbara Gollman and Kim Pierce, this kale recipe is a charmer. Kale scores so high for nutrients, but who knows how to serve it? Guests will never know they’re eating kale with this recipe, but will love the fresh greenness. Serve over pasta, on bruschetta ” even as a spread on wrappers and quesadillas.
3/4 lb. kale, washed, large stems removed
3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 c. basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 t. salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and stem kale, stem basil and juice lemon. Coarsely chop kale, leaving water on leaves from washing. Place in large microwaveable bowl and cover. Microwave on high (100 percent power) for 5 minutes. Stir; return to microwave for another 5 minutes. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, remover cover to cool.
Drop garlic into bowl of a food processor with the motor running. When finely minced, add the basil and cooked kale. Process until uniform.
Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve as you would pesto.
If you have never made Swiss chard, it’s one of the milder greens and this recipe is just what it says ” easy and delicious. Red-stemmed chard has a faint beet flavor.
Easy, Delicious Swiss Chard
1 to 2 t. olive oil
1 large bunch chard, washed
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/2 t. salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 t. sesame oil
Squeeze of lemon
Remove stems from chard and cut stems into 1/4 inch pieces. Mince garlic. Stack the chard leaves on top of each other and cut into 1-by-3 inch strips.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. When hot, add the chard stems, cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Add the chard leaves; use tongs to stir the chard until it reduces some in volume (like spinach). Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Stir again; cover for another 2 minutes, until tender.
Drizzle sesame oil and lemon juice over chard; adjust salt and pepper. Serves 4.
Variation: Increase the olive oil to 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 t.; omit the sesame oil. Omit the lemon juice; drizzle with balsamic or fruit-flavored vinegar instead. (Reprinted with permission from “The Phytopia Cook Book … A World of Plant-Centered Cuisine,” by Barbara Gollman and Kim Pierce.)
Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape
and Turkey Salad
1/2 c. halved seedless red grapes
1/2 c. halved seedless green grapes
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1-1/2 c. cubed cooked turkey breast, chilled
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 t. lemon juice
2 t. honey
1 t. minced fresh basil
2 Tbsp. walnut oil or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 c. torn red leaf lettuce
2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese (optional)
In salad bowl, combine grapes, red pepper, onion and turkey. In measuring cup, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, honey and basil. Slowly mix in oil and whisk until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix dressing with salad and serve over lettuce. Top with crumbled blue cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings. (From American Institute for Cancer Research NEWSLETTER, Spring 2002).