Which vegetables come to mind when you think of leafy greens? You may think of spinach and lettuce right away, but what about rapini and arugula?
Although we may group these vegetables together as "leafy greens", they actually come from several different vegetable families. Each type will provide a distinct flavour, visual appeal and texture. Adding them to your favourite recipes is a simple way to boost the nutrient value of meals.
Here is a brief description of some of these trendy greens:Arugula - This is a popular vegetable in Italian cooking. Its leaves are bright green and they have a peppery-mustard taste.
Dandelion greens - Although hated by most gardeners, these greens are loved by many when shredded into a salad or boiled lightly and served like spinach. They have a bitter, tangy flavour.Chinese cabbage - Even thought this cabbage has only a faint taste, the crinkly leaves add crunch to salads and stir-fries.
Sorrel - This favourite of French cuisine provides a lemony tang in a salad.
Rapini - This vegetable has a thin stem with leaves and clusters of tiny buds like broccoli. Its slightly bitter flavour gives a zesty edge to bland potatoes and pasta.
Swiss Chard - These greens have large leaves and celery-like stems. The leaves are similar to spinach but they have a stronger, almost beet-like flavour. The stem has a delicate flavour and is similar to celery. Ruby chard, the variety with dark green leaves and a reddish stalk, has a stronger flavor.
Kale - The blue-green curly edged leaves of this green have a mild cabbage flavour. It cooks well as its leaves retain their texture.
Mesclun - This is not a type of green but a mixture of young, small salad greens.
Generally, all can be eaten raw or cooked. Small, young leaves are best eaten raw and larger, more mature ones are best cooked. Use quick-cooking methods like stir-frying or steaming to preserve their texture, colour and flavour. Add greens to soup, stew, and pasta sauces for 5 to 10 minutes toward the end of cooking.
Here's a recipe you are sure to enjoy!
Mediterranean Pasta225g (8 oz)linguine or fettuccine1 bunch arugula, rinsed well in cold water1sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced1 small onion, thinly sliced15 mL(1Tbsp)live or canola oil1minced garlic clove1/2 mL(1/8 tsp) salt1/2 -1 mL(1/8 - 1/4 tsp) hot red chili peppers125 mL(1/2 cup) crumbled feta cheese50 mL(1/4 cup)pitted black olive halves, preferably KalamataCook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is almost done, add arugula and boil with pasta for 1 minute. Drain both together.
Heat oil in a large frying pan set over medium heat. Add red pepper, onion, garlic, salt and chili flakes. Cook, stirring often until softened, about 8 minutes.
Toss pasta, arugula, vegetable mixture, feta cheese and olives in a large pasta bowl until evenly mixed. Serve right away.
Written by the Public Health Nutritionists of Saskatchewan And supported by Public Health, Sunrise Health Region.
If you have any comments or questions please contact: Heather Torrie, Public Health Nutritionist, Sunrise Health Region, 150 Independent Street, Yorkton, Sask.S3N 0S7 or phone:786-0600.