What Greens Have You Had Lately?
Who is tired of kale? I know that the nutrition value and versatility in the kitchen are amazing, but why not shed light on different seasonal greens that share some of these qualities? Seasonal lettuces include: butter lettuce, collard greens, radicchio, red leaf, spinach, watercress and Swiss chard. Although less familiar to most, we cannot forget to include these as well: mustard greens, arugula and dandelion greens. Let’s go off the beaten path to explore some fantastic bitter, peppery, nutritious greens.
Although mustard greens, arugula and dandelion greens are also seen in the wintery months, they are most vibrant and full of vitamins in the spring and beginning of the summer. These are great to accompany meats fresh off the grill or mixed in salads. Arugula is the most common of greens seen here and is great in salads or simply tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper alongside a great steak. Mustard greens and Dandelion greens have been overlooked for a long time, simply because people are not as comfortable using them. All of these greens are readily available in all grocery stores.
Mustard Greens: The peppery leaves are a rich, dark green and have a wonderful mustard flavor. They are full of vitamin A, C, Thiamine, and Riboflavin. They can be steamed, sautéed or simmered with an array of ingredients. My favorite is to grill them with some salt and pepper, then toss them with some fire roasted cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and Pecorino Romano cheese. If you like feta cheese it also pairs nicely.
Arugula: Known as Italian cress and rocket to some people, it looks very similar to the tops of radishes, and is often mistaken for them. Arugula is peppery, slightly bitter, and has a hint of radish flavoring. It is rich in iron, vitamin A and C. Arugula makes great additions to salads, soups, sautés, and even makes a great pesto. My favorite way to enjoy them is to leave the leaves raw, not adding to much to them. I simply take the arugula and toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper, placing it alongside your favorite piece of grilled meat.
Dandelion Greens: The bright green leaves have a slightly bitter, tangy, flavor that adds zest to a wide variety of salads. Dandelion greens have been prized for their health benefits: being a mild diuretic and to aid in lowering blood pressure. These greens are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, iron and calcium. The roots can be eaten as vegetables or roasted and ground to make a root "coffee". I love them grilled or wilted. The best time to cook with this green is early spring before the plant begins to flower.
I found Root Coffee to be the most interesting of the three greens facts listed. I am always up for a new food application and discovering the benefits of the things we eat. While writing this article, I was thrown slightly off course when I stumbled upon the application of coffee/tea root. Although I knew these bitter, peppery, flavorful greens were great for eating and cooking, I had no idea coffee could be derived from the dandelion root.
This specific type of root coffee holds many nutritional benefits. Dandelion coffee helps with your liver, and can aid in lowering high blood pressure. Drinking this coffee a few times a week can cleanse your system and aid the need for caffeine, while giving your body many additional nutrients. This coffee is an excellent source of Vitamin B Complexes, A and C, but most of all it will give you a good source of potassium, while other cleansing items will deplete them from the body. This great recipe packs a punch but the nutrient value is wonderful: https://elanaspantry.com/dandelion-root-coffee/. I hope you enjoy experimenting with new food applications as much as I do; sometimes they tend to consume me.
I’d say we stepped off the beaten path a bit discussing the health benefits of seasonal greens and some new applications both in and outside the kitchen. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on cooking with these great ingredients. Below you will find a recipe for one of my favorite ways to enjoy dandelion and mustard greens. This recipe goes great by itself or alongside your favorite piece of grilled meat. Enjoy!
1bunch Dandelion greens or Mustard greens
2Tbsp Olive oil
2Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1pint Grape tomatoes
1/2cup Crumbled or cubed Feta Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Coat greens with 1Tbsp of olive oil and a little salt. Grill green until they ae charred and roasted
2. Let the greens slightly cool so you can handle them. Chop up in bite sized pieces and place in a bowl
3. While the greens are resting place the tomatoes on the grill or roast them in a hot oven until they are blistered. Set aside
4. Take remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar and combine
5. Gather all ingredients, except cheese and mix in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to your liking
6. Top with cheese and enjoy
Till next time.