If you are determined to eat more dark green leafy vegetables, you may find yourself tiring of the same cooking methods after a while. Beyond stir-fries and eating them raw, are there any other ways of preparing and enjoying dark green leafy vegetables? Here are a few suggestions.
New Ways of Preparing and Enjoying Your Greens
Kale is a good candidate for direct oven roasting. Remove the leaves from the stem, tear into bite-sized pieces, and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Diana Dyer, MS, RD recommends roasting kale leaves at 350F for about 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally, and turning them over at the halfway mark. You can use dried herbs or spices to flavor up these green “chips” but be smart about what you choose and stay away from high-sodium seasoning mixes. Another vegetable that roasts well is broccoli. Break into florets, wash and dry well, toss with oil and a sprinkle of salt, and roast at 425F for 20 minutes (turn over at the halfway point). Once done, toss with lemon juice and a sprinkle of grated strong cheese such as Parmesan.
This preparation method helps take the edge off bitter leafy greens, such as mustard greens and rapini (broccoli rabe). Blanch the cut-up pieces in salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then quickly rinse under cold water or throw into an icy bowl of water. Once drained, blanched greens can be kept in the fridge and used in many other ways – try them in quick sautes, as pizza toppings, or as an addition to mashed potatoes or pasta. A popular Chinese way of eating gai lan (Chinese broccoli) is to drizzle a sauce or vinaigrette over the blanched greens. You can also blanch leaves whole and use them to make sushi, spring rolls, or wraps.
Many of us automatically think of basil and pine nuts at the mention of pesto. To add a wonderful flavor kick to pesto, simply replace the amount of basil in the recipe with the leafy greens of your choice. Some good candidates for this are arugula, mizuna, various types of kale, and steamed broccoli florets. When trying this out for the first time, start with half basil/half leafy greens to assess how much the taste changes. If you’re adventurous, switch to different types of nuts as well.
Yes, you can grill dark green leafy vegetables. The key is high heat and very short cooking time (no more than a couple of minutes each side). To keep the leaves from falling through the grates, use a grill basket. This also helps you turn the veggies over easily so they cook evenly. Try grilling romaine lettuce (halved lengthwise), swiss chard, or beet greens.
The quickest way to use up dark leafy greens is to chop them into strips and use them in a frittata, quiche, or casserole. Depending on the greens you choose, you can add them raw, or you may have to blanch or saute them first. Spinach is the most common one used, but you can also use kale, arugula, swiss chard, or escarole.
The Bottom Line
No one is interested in healthful foods that are boring or tasteless. By exploring creative ways of preparing your dark leafy greens, you can move them from the “should eat more” category to the “want more” category.
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Sofia believes in bringing back fun and pleasure into everyday eating. She loves cooking, and is constantly experimenting with ingredients, creating recipes and trying them out on family and friends. Her latest interest lies in finding realistic and practical ways of environmentally-friendly food/eating habits.