Greens, Greens, and More Greens
Green. It seems like the only color represented in my refrigerator this time of year. It makes sense: kale, swiss chard, cabbage, bok choy, mustard greens, leaf lettuce…they’re all coming to harvest.
I must use them up!
Good news. Through word of mouth and trial and error we picked up several tips to help you avoid precious greens withering away in your field and fridge.
Whether growing them yourself, getting them in a CSA, or having them given to you by generous friends, greens can be tricky produce to use up each week.
Which brings us to the several ideas we use in our house to make sure the greens end up in our diet and not the compost pile.
Uses for Your Abundance of Greens
The obvious choice, salads, can often be kind of a ho-hum dish for your spectacular greens. Toss your salad with a homemade dressing, homemade croutons, dried fruit, and your favorite veggies to add a little excitement.
Even kale can be made into a delicious salad that won’t get soggy in the fridge if you store leftovers. Special preparation will ensure tender leaves so you’re not chewing for hours. Check out Matt’s technique for prepping kale for a salad.
I have recently gained an appreciation for cole slaw. It has been a great way to use up heads of cabbage and incorporate some other veggies like carrots, cucumber, red onion, etc. We have experimented with mayonnaise-based and vinegar-based slaws…vinegar slaw being the front runner. For my winning slaw, I doubled this recipe and used one head of Napa cabbage (instead of the bag of slaw mix the recipe calls for).
One summer, certain we had accidentally signed up for a Kale Share instead of a regular farm share, we discovered kale chips. Kale chips are easy to make and fun to snack on.
If you’ve never made kale chips before, there are several recipes and videos to get you started. I like this short video for tips on preparing and baking them. You can also use a dehydrator for preparing kale chips. (Find quality dehydrators here.)
Cook & puree
This is our method for quickly downsizing a large amount of greens into the smallest size possible…mostly so we can make room in the fridge. We have used this technique to process kale, mustard greens, and collard greens, but could be used for others as well.
After rinsing well, we cook the greens in water for about 8 minutes, using about 1½ cups of water per head of greens. The greens will cook down substantially. After cooking, strain water out of the greens. Add greens to a blender to make a nice, smooth puree. The puree can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for more immediate use.
Pureed greens can be added to any dish that needs a nutrient boost. Hide a a tablespoon or two of the pureed greens in smoothies or homemade popsicles. (You can’t taste it!)
Soup or sauce
If you’re feeling brave, allow greens to show their true colors (literally) in a soup.
Matt recently used the “cook and puree” method and added some to a vegetable beef soup he made. Had it not been for the bright green color, I never would have known about the guest appearance greens were making in that soup.
Warning: You may have to come up with a fun name ahead of time if you anticipate your spouse and/or children are going to turn their noses up at it! :)
Have you ever experimented with greens made into sauces? Pesto is one of my favorite summer sauces to whip up. Make a pesto with various greens and serve over pasta, as a dip for veggies, or spread on crusty bread.
Use greens to create a wrap containing some of your favorite traditional sandwich ingredients. Swiss chard is tender yet crunchy, making it a great shell for a veggie or meat sandwich.
Try a chard wrap stuffed with couscous, red bell peppers, shredded carrots, tomatoes, avocado, and fresh basil.
Bok choy is the perfect addition to a fast weeknight stir fry dinner. An entire head can be chopped up and used with your other favorite wok-worthy ingredients. The leaves cook down wonderfully and the stems offer the perfect crunch to this dish.
Don’t let that nutrient rich produce go to waste! (And don’t feel like you have to eat like a rabbit if your greens are spilling out of the fridge.)
Instead of letting the greens intimidate you, try some new tasty methods and utilize this season’s bounty.
Are you finding new ways to incorporate greens into your menu? Please share with us!
photo credit: Deb Roby