Leafy greens Photo: Thinkstock
THEY’RE ONE OF THOSE
categories of food everyone knows they should be eating, but all that leafy green-ness just seems a bit too healthy. However, they can make a great addition to lots of different dishes.
Besides being good for you, they’re reasonably cheap and are usually available year-round in one form or another. The trick is knowing how best to handle them, and how to more easily work them into your daily diet.
> Look for perky bunches; leaves should be upright, luscious and juicy. If they’re limp or drooping, don’t bother; they’re too old, will taste indifferent and will have lost much of their nutritional goodness.
> Leaves do need to be washed well, even in a couple of changes of water if possible. Dry them in a salad spinner, on a clean tea towel, or simply give them a quick shake before using.
> If you’re pressed for time, an easy way to prep your greens is to twist and break each bunch at the base of the leaves, then plunge them into a big bowl of water. Then give them a quick, rough chop before adding to your meals.
Try these tastes
- Pasta sauces, stir-fries, stews and casseroles are all terrific with greens. They’re also useful in frittatas, where you can combine greens with leftover bits of cheese, olives and meat for a healthy end-of-the-week meal.
- Take a more cavalier approach to recipe instructions calling for “a few sprigs” or a scant cup of greens. Instead, use half or whole bunches at a time. You’ll add flavour – and up the nutrition value as well.
- Still got a lot of greens left over? Cook them for 5min in a small amount of olive oil, then stir through 1tbsp each of tahini and shoyu soy sauce, plus a squeeze of lemon juice. Once the greens are coated, serve with a piece of grilled or barbecued fish.
- This simple dish of lentils with wilted greens is delicious either on its own or served with lamb. Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan; add fresh garlic and a tbsp of any North African spice mix, and saute for 20sec. Add chopped greens, 2tbsp water, a tin of lentils and a punnet of halved cherry tomatoes; cook for 5min, until the tomatoes are squishy and the greens fully cooked.
- Don’t limit yourself to one taste. English spinach, watercress, amaranth leaf, silverbeet, kale – even beetroot leaves and carrot tops – are all in season right now, and each has a very different flavour. Try going for a combination of bunches, as well as some fresh herbs, and use them all together in salads and dishes.
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