Leafy greens are a crucial element of a well-balanced diet. They’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals that have a long list of health advantages.
They can also be used in a variety of dishes to offer richness to your meal. To help you freshen up your cuisine this year, we’ve compiled a list of leafy greens you might want to consider growing in your yard.
There are various distinct varieties of kale, each with a different form and color. They are generally dark green in color, with a robust stem in the center and curling leaves at the extremities.
Kale is one of the world’s healthiest plants, providing vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as a plethora of minerals, all while containing relatively few calories.
Plus, kale is adaptable enough for common home cooks: It can be braised, grilled, fried, baked, juiced, or salt tenderized. It’s also delicious raw. Here are 10 ways to include this wonderful superfood into your daily routine:
- Grilled sides
- Pizza toppings
- Roasted under chicken
- Breakfast casserole
Arugula is a leafy green that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard greens. It is commonly known as “rocket” or “rucola” in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Arugula has been grown and utilized as a medicinal plant and aphrodisiac since ancient Roman times. The vegetable is currently widely used in Italian cuisine and is farmed and consumed all over the world.
The leaves are dark green in hue and have deep notches on both sides. Some leaves feature spherical ends, while others have pointier ends. Arugula is commonly consumed uncooked as a salad green, but it may also be prepared in a number of ways.
Arugula is frequently marketed in bunches and is prone to absorbing dirt and sand. Rinse the greens well and spin dry using a salad spinner. Cut the root ends as necessary.
Salads with arugula are usually served uncooked. The peppery flavor goes well with bright citrus, salty cheeses, and other strong flavors. It may also be used to top baked pizzas or to make pesto. These greens may be sautéed for a light side meal or incorporated into pasta, soups and other recipes.
Arugula comes in a variety of leaf forms and flavors, ranging from a peppery flavor to a pungency that is almost radish-like. Here are a few of our favorite ones:
- Garden Tangy
- Red Dragon
- Italian Cress
- Waild Rocket
- Slow Bolt
3. Bok Choy
Bok choy features a bulbous white stalk that matures into a group of dark green leaves, similar to celery. Pak choi, Chinese cabbage, and white mustard cabbage are all common names for it.
This cabbage-like vegetable has become famous thanks to Chinese cooking. Bok choy, particularly the young baby bok choy, has a soft and mild flavor.
The fact that you can cook baby bok choy intact, without splitting its leaves apart, adds a wonderful aesthetic aspect to a meal and part of its appeal. Cut the leaves off the stem and cook the stems first when preparing bigger, more mature bok choy, since they will require a somewhat longer cooking time.
Bok choy may be found in soups, salads, stir-fries, and stuffings for potstickers, spring rolls, steamed buns, and dumplings in Chinese cuisine. Its subtle taste shows through when stir-fried in sesame oil. Add a pinch of garlic or ginger along with a little some salt or soy sauce.
Although it may be braised or stewed, it tastes best when it is roasted, steamed, stir-fried, or thrown into a hot soup shortly before serving. Its fresh flavor and texture are ruined by overcooking.
Here are three easy ways to prepare bok choy:
Drizzle Toss 4 halved, chopped baby bok choy (approximately 1 pound) in a tablespoon of sesame oil to coat. Season with fresh salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 minutes over medium heat, then flip and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes until lightly charred.
Boil 4 young bok choy, halved and trimmed (approximately 1 pound) inside a steamer basket. Cover and steam for 6 minutes, or until you notice stem ends are slightly soft when pierced. 1 tablespoon melted butter drizzled over the top, 1 teaspoon minced chives sprinkled on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
About 2 pounds trimmed bok choy, thinly sliced in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and canola oil each over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for 30 seconds, or until 3 garlic cloves are aromatic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the bok choy is wilted, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds on top and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Spinach has dark green leaves that are rounded. It is one of the most widely used and adaptable leafy greens. Fresh, canned, frozen or dried spinach is accessible all year in some form or another.
When buying fresh spinach, seek dark green, crisp leaves and stems, rather than weak, broken greens or leaves containing yellow patches. Put the fresh vegetable in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for three days or less. Because spinach has a propensity to be gritty, it should be properly washed before serving.
Spinach pairs well with a wide range of cuisines due to its mild flavor. It may be consumed raw in salad form or prepared in a variety of dishes. It’s delicious in an omelet, phyllo pastry, a thick pasta dish, and even a fruit smoothie. It’s crucial to remember that as you cook something, the volume shrinks dramatically, so make sure you use a higher quantity than you think you’ll need.
These greens are commonly used in salads and as a side dish. Their mild flavor blends well with other foods while adding nutritional value to every meal. Scrambles, omelets, scrambles, quiches, and lasagnas can all be made from it.
There are a variety of spinach varieties to pick from. The most popular is baby spinach, which is usually eaten fresh but may also be cooked gently.
When heated, bigger and sturdier flat-leaf or curly-leaf tastes better. Depending on the intended flavor, texture, and usage, there are three main methods to prepare fresh spinach:
Here, spinach tenderizes quickly and the leaves wilt without requiring seasoning until after they’ve been cooked.
Large quantities of spinach may be prepared within 2 minutes by steaming them in a high wet heat environment. When compared to blanching, it just takes a small amount of water to generate steam. This method preserves the vivid green color of the greens while tenderizing them.
After that, just season the cooked spinach using salt and pepper. Bitterness can be reduced by sprinkling some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice over it. Depending on the sort of cookware you’re using, you should avoid adding straight to the pan.
Blanching cooks the spinach speedily and is frequently employed as a stage in the preparation of a meal. In about a minute, blanching the leaves in a big pot of salted hot water wilts the greens.
This is ideal for cooking numerous batches of leaves quickly. To stop the cooking process, rapidly remove it from the heat and chill it under cold running water.
To prevent it from turning soggy or becoming a murky green color, squeeze away any extra moisture. When I make creamed spinach, I use this approach.
Dry heat is used to generate taste on the surface, and additional flavoring chemicals are used. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
The fat will help with the sear and light browning of the leaves, as well as the rapid production of taste. Other aromatics and spices, such as onions, minced garlic, bell pepper, or chili flakes, can be added to the oil and cooked quickly during this time.
Add a handful of spinach leaves at a time. Stir until wilted, then repeat with the remaining leaves. It will require a few minutes to complete this procedure. It’s important to cook off water while mixing cooked spinach with anything like filled shells or a dip. This makes sautéing one of the best options.
Cabbage is linked to broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale and belongs to the Brassicaceae family. The hue of the leaf clusters might be green, white, or purple.
For soups and stir-fries, cabbage is frequently sautéed or boiled. For low-carb meal choices, they may also be cooked to produce filled cabbage or cabbage rolls. It’s used to produce sauerkraut for Pennsylvania Dutch and German cuisines and kimchi for Korean cuisine.
If you’re searching for other methods to use cabbage, try slicing it up and adding it to a stir-fry! Make cabbage the highlight of your stir-fry, or toss a bunch in with your other stir-fry vegetables.
Cabbage Rolls With a Twist
Of course, we enjoy classic cabbage rolls, but when we need a quick lunch, we turn to a deconstructed version, which incorporates the entirety of cabbage roll tastes in a single pot. You can use y cabbage rolls to make a stir-fry or cabbage roll stew or soup by adding more liquid like water or broth.
Kimchi or Sauerkraut
We couldn’t have written about cabbage without including the famous fermented choices, sauerkraut and kimchi! For extra-gorgeous sauerkraut, we like to use red cabbage, while napa cabbage is our favorite for kimchi.
Steaks With Cabbage
Thickly sliced steaks with cabbage make an excellent whole food vegan meat alternative. They may also be served as an excellent side dish, thanks to their very soft texture and caramelized flavor.
This quick one-pot supper with cabbage, sausage, and aromatics comes in German and Polish variants. Depending on your preferences, you may add more vegetables, sauerkraut, apples, or substitute tofu for a vegetarian version.
One of our personal favorites is fresh, crisp, and raw coleslaw. Toss your cabbage with a basic vinaigrette or something more opulent and creamy. A simple slaw may also be used as a tasty sandwich or taco topper.
Braising is a quick and easy technique to prepare cabbage that is full of flavor. In a braised cabbage, you typically want a blend of flavors, including salt, sweetness, and an acid such as apple cider vinegar. Add fruits like apples or raisins, spices like caraway or cumin, ginger, or fresh-pressed juice to see what you can come up with.
Don’t get us wrong: we adore lettuces and dark leafy greens, but raw cabbage gives your salads a nice crunch and texture. You may use sliced or shredded cabbage in place of all of your greens, or use half greens and half cabbage. Experiment around with the proportions until you find something you like!
Eggplant, zucchini, and sweet potato lasagna spaghetti should take a break now and again! For a tasty (and no-boil) lasagna variation, spread your filling amongst cabbage leave layers for a grain-free meal.
When eaten raw or cooked, leafy greens provide all of the critical nutrients for a balanced diet, as well as a slew of disease-fighting and preventive compounds. Leafy greens are an essential component of a balanced diet.
They’re high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber while also being low in calories. A diet abundant in leafy greens has been shown to lessen the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and mental decline, among other ailments.