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Culinaria – Greens

Culinaria – Greens


Eating ALL the Greens!

Spring has sprung and we are well into the time here on the Front Range when plants are sprouting like… well… dandelions in June. All the farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program baskets, the grocery stores, Farmer’s Markets, and home gardens are rife with tiny hakurei turnips, spring onions, and lots and lots of greens. 

Tender lettuces of all kinds, frondy carrot tops, smooth oval spinach leaves, colorful chard, baby not-yet-tough collards, pea shoots, lightly peppery arugula, bright green kale, mild beet and turnip greens, even horseradish leaf and fennel sprouts are having their moment right now and how lucky we are for it! Leafy greens are touted as the healthy diet panacea: rich in vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, and full of micronutrients! But wait, there’s more! Eating them reduces your risk of heart attack, obesity, dementia, and high blood pressure! You might think that the leafy green industry is hand-in-glove with the nutrition scientists, given how oft-touted the benefits of a diet rich in these greens are. Anemic? Eat greens. Low energy? Eat greens. Constipated? Bored? Lonely? Eat greens!

Fresh greens always make great salads, but there are also so many other ideas below!

Almost all garden-fresh greens, especially when they are young and tender, are delicious eaten raw in salads. As much as a good mixed green salad is now and again, not all salads must be composed entirely or even mostly of greens. Shredded carrots tossed with arugula, toasted pine nuts, and a simple vinaigrette make for a sweet, tangy, spicy, crunchy, absolutely delicious side dish.

Add a little bleu cheese or some crispy bacon bits and serve with fresh bread and you’ve got a perfect spring dinner. Or try mixing together cooled cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, and baby spinach dressed in a lime juice dressing. Add shredded or chopped greens to your tuna or egg salad. Make a fresh green dressing by blending greens with oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, and whatever flavors you like. Put fresh greens in your homemade hummus. Potato salad with finely sliced greens is wonderful.

All these lovely fresh greens are also wonderful cooked. Throw a handful into stir-fries, omelets, or soups. Make pesto or pistou then eat on pretty much anything (baked potato? yes! pasta? of course! sandwiches? obviously!) or spread on top of fish, chicken, or tofu and bake or grill. Lightly steam pea pods and pea shoots and serve tossed in sesame oil and a dash of rice vinegar. Make Indian saag or add extra greens to your chimichurri.

Throw them on pizza, stuff them into enchiladas, cook them with rice, bake them into lasagne, or saute them with fresh garlic – you can’t really go wrong. Except for kale milkshakes. Yes, there is such a thing. No, I do not like them. No, I do not recommend them. I love ice cream. I love kale. I do not love them blended together and drunk through a straw. You can even take a page from Dr. Seuss and make green eggs and ham — add a couple of handfuls of the green of your choice to your scrambled eggs for fun. Have you ever had Romaine lettuce soup? It’s delicious. And you have not fully lived until you have eaten Ethiopian collard greens and potatoes.

Here is one of my favorite ways to use beet greens; you can use either tender baby greens plucked straight from your garden or bigger greens twisted off the tops of large beets, either works here. You can put this on top of salmon before baking, use as a dressing for pasta salad, mix into plain yogurt, dip fresh bread into it, top a hearty vegetable soup with a heaping spoonful, the possibilities are many. I would be absolutely delighted to hear what you do with this if you make it – please let me know.

Beet Green and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

  • 2 cups beet greens, well washed
  • ½ cup raw peeled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, tossing frequently until they are lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool. Into a food processor place the greens, the toasted pumpkin seeds, the oil, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper then puree. Taste the pesto, adjust with garlic, salt and pepper as needed. This can keep in an airtight jar in your fridge for at least a week or you can freeze it for several months.

BONUS! Reader submitted recipe we just had to share.

We received a handwritten letter from a loyal reader, Nelda. She included a recipe for dumplings, which I am happy to pass on as written. Please let me know if you try it. Thank you, Nelda!

Nelda’s Danish Dumplings

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ? cup flour
  • 2 eggs

Bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring constantly. Cook until moisture leaves sides of pan. When cool, add salt and eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth. Drop by teaspoon into boiling liquid. Cook about 4 minutes. DO NOT COVER PAN as dumplings are cooking.

I will be here again next month, to talk food and answer questions. Please be part of the dialogue by submitting your questions or comments to [email protected]


Jessica Hersh
Jessica Hersh has been working as a culinary professional for over 28 years but her love of food has been lifelong. She has made a career of cooking, teaching, writing, and talking about food. Jessica loves eating, reading, playing word games, and spending time admiring the beauty of nature.

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