The many delicious ways to eat your greens

 
Leafy greens aren’t just for salads anymore.  Image source

Leafy greens aren’t just for salads anymore. Image source

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.

“I guess I’ll be eating a lot of salad again this week,” they tell us.

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

Looking for a way to use all those carrot tops? Try   Roasted Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto   .  The pesto goes beautifully with pasta, too.  Image source

Looking for a way to use all those carrot tops? Try Roasted Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto. The pesto goes beautifully with pasta, too. Image source

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.

These   Collard Greens Sushi Rolls     are simple to make and allow you to customize how they like them. Try setting up a collard sushi-making station at your next party.  Image source

These Collard Greens Sushi Rolls are simple to make and allow you to customize how they like them. Try setting up a collard sushi-making station at your next party. Image source

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.

I love how easy it is to add whatever I have in the fridge to pizza. I highly recommend this   Wild Mushroom Pizza with Arugula and Pecorino   if you want to make it yourself.  Image source

I love how easy it is to add whatever I have in the fridge to pizza. I highly recommend this Wild Mushroom Pizza with Arugula and Pecorino if you want to make it yourself. Image source

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

Swap kale or collard greens for spinach in this  vegan spinach dip . Or just run with spinach.

Swap kale or collard greens for spinach in this vegan spinach dip. Or just run with spinach.

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. 

This   Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Garlicky Breadcrumbs     is a delicious way to eat chard.   When sauteing greens, include more than you think you’ll want. They cook down quite a bit and keep well in the fridge for several days.  Image source

This Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Garlicky Breadcrumbs is a delicious way to eat chard. When sauteing greens, include more than you think you’ll want. They cook down quite a bit and keep well in the fridge for several days. Image source

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. 

Shungiku and Maitake Stir-Fry   relies on the leaves of chrysanthemum. But substitute any leafy green you like.  Image source

Shungiku and Maitake Stir-Fry relies on the leaves of chrysanthemum. But substitute any leafy green you like. Image source

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. 

Bake  your kale chips for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees, with a bit of oil, garlic, and salt. Stir every 5 minutes.  Photo source

Bake your kale chips for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees, with a bit of oil, garlic, and salt. Stir every 5 minutes. Photo source

Roast them

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.