The many delicious ways to eat your greens
It’s midway through the growing season and I’m talking—a lot—with my fellow urban farmers about greens. Our goal is to get customers to enjoy them. It’s not just because we care about our people. Or that the planet would benefit if more of us ate greens (and other plants). Eating less meat was one recommendation the United Nations proposed in its newly released report on climate change and agriculture.
But no, we’re motivated by the sighs and audible groans we hear from CSA customers after discovering still more greens in their boxes of fresh-from-our farm produce. “I guess I’ll be eating a lot of salad again this week,” they tell us. Well, no, not necessarily.
We get it. We know you want the tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and corn that, alas, is only now showing up here in Colorado. But leafy greens are here, lots of them. And they’re not so bad! Not only are they tasty and full of iron and nutrients, they go with just about everything. Seriously.
I’ve collected a few suggestions for how to think outside the salad bowl. A few were passed along by customers who have learned to love greens, too. As for the rest, the next time someone complains, I’ll send them here.
Eat your greens
Pulse them into a pesto
Amazed by the sheer quantity of greens accompanying a single carrot? Don’t throw them away! They’re really tasty, especially in a good pesto. I grew up in a household where pesto was strictly basil-based, but after I started farming I learned almost every green can make a good pesto. I’ve successfully swapped out basil for carrot tops, dandelion greens, and chives.
Substitute them for seaweed
When a CSA member introduced me to a sushi recipe using collard greens in place of seaweed, I couldn’t not try it. The trick to getting collard greens pliable enough for rolling is to first submerge them in a shallow pan of boiling water for one minute on each side.
Pile them on a pizza (or really just about anything)
As soon as pizza comes out of the oven I top it with a couple of cups of fresh greens. Arugula is my favorite, but chopped kale, swiss chard, and sorrel work, too. By the time the pizza has cooled, the greens will have wilted without crisping and burning.
Make them into a dip
Kale is my least favorite green. Do I still eat it? Yes. Do I think it gets more hype than it deserves? Absolutely. What sold me on kale was going to a party and falling for some green dip. My friend had substituted kale for spinach, and snuck it right past me.
Toss them in a pasta
My coworkers like to give me a hard time about my love for Swiss chard. They say it’s salty and mushy, but I dare them to think that way after it has been sauteed lightly in olive oil and garlic and tossed with pasta. You can do the same with spinach and kale or sorrel. Or toss a handful of raw arugula on top of your noodles for a burst of crisp flavor.
Stick them in a stir-fry
One of the best parts about farming is introducing people to produce they’ve never tried before. Every spring we seed one bed of shungiku. Shungiku are the leaves of garland chrysanthemum. They have a uniquely fresh taste, one I equate with juniper, rose, and lemon. The leaves are tasty tossed fresh in a salad, but my favorite way to prepare this once-a-year green is by stir-frying it with mushrooms and lots of garlic.
Slow-baking greens is one of the easiest most satisfying ways to eat them. Even I like kale when it’s roasted, but any green will do. Serve them as a bed under an entree, as a side, or as a snack on its own. I’ve watched people devour crispy kale chips by the handful.
Katie Ketchum is a Stone Pier Press News Fellow based in Denver, Colorado.