banner
alive logo
foodfamilylifestylebeautysustainabilityhealthimmunity

Beyond Kale

Share

We all know we should eat more leafy greens, but if you find yourself in a dark green rut (we’re looking at you, kale!), there’s a world of ways to make greens delicious––cooked or raw.

Why greens? Nitrate-rich leafy greens are low in calories, carbohydrates, and saturated fat and can play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease. Research has also shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens, are associated with a lowered risk of cancers and other serious diseases.

Don’t forget about herbs! These nutritional powerhouses should definitely be part of your leafy greens portfolio. Basil, mint, and parsley contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.

When it comes to cooking with greens, you’ll find that most commonly used greens are widely available, but look for others at farmers’ markets or specialty stores (or grow your own!). These five recipes will help you diversify your greens by showing off each at its best, with substitutions for just about any leafy option. 

01

Sorrel Soup with Leek, Potatoes, and Almond Cream

Sorrel Soup with Leek, Potatoes, and Almond Cream
Roasted Black Cod or Turbot with Bok Choy, Maple, and Miso

Both black cod and turbot have incredibly tender, buttery texture and rich flavour that pairs perfectly with miso and maple. The main differences are that turbot is usually less expensive and it’s thinner, so it cooks a little quicker. Both are usually sustainable and come from Canada or the US.

Lettuce or Collard Wraps with Thai Basil, Tempeh, and Peanut Sauce

These wraps are naturally gluten-free and can be extra crunchy, juicy, or savoury depending on your wrapper choice. If you use lettuce, choose a type with large, firm leaves that will hold the fillings well. Collard greens are sturdier and more nutritious, but you’ll want to remove the stems before rolling. Don’t let that fibre go to waste, though; dice the stems and use them for soup or stir-fries, or pickle them for salads.

Cilantro Rice with Chicken and Mint Sauce

Inspired by Peruvian arroz con pollo, this dish blends an entire bunch of cilantro and spinach into a pot of rice, tinting it green. It’s a full meal on its own, but you can leave out the chicken and it becomes a vegetarian side dish. If you use commercial broth that’s high in sodium, reduce the salt you add in the first step.

Sautéed Rapini with Spaghetti, Garlic, Toasted Walnuts, and Anchovies

This combination of fish and walnuts is inspired by pasta dishes from Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Don’t be scared off by the anchovies. The preserved fish disappears into a rich, silken sauce infused with garlic and a hint of spice. Keeping the walnuts in large pieces adds a rich, nutty flavour and turns an economical dish into something a bit more luxurious.

A multitude of greens

Amaranth

A wonderful ingredient in soups, stews, curries, and fish dishes, amaranth is traditionally used to make a Bengali dish with mustard oil and pan-fried freshwater fish. Look for it at Southeast Asian grocers along with maple-scented fenugreek leaves.

Switch with: Swiss chard, kale, or spinach

Chicory

This group of slightly bitter greens includes endive, frisée, escarole, and radicchio. In general, chicories are tender enough be added to any soup or stew just before serving, but tough enough to be blanched and sautéed with olive oil and garlic as a stand-alone side dish (or a replacement for rapini in alive’s Sautéed Rapini with Spaghetti, Garlic, Toasted Walnuts, and Anchovies recipe).

Switch with: rapini

Choy sum and gai lan

These long-stemmed greens are often stir-fried or steamed in Asian cuisines. Gai lan is slightly hardier than choy sum.

Switch with: rapini, kale, mustard greens, or collard greens

Collard greens

These are essential for pot-licker (or “pot liquor”) greens in southern cooking, where the juices from slow-cooked barbecue or bacon are often used to season simmered greens, adding flavour to the greens and nutrition to the meal. Don’t throw out that leftover cooking liquid! It’s high in vitamins A, C, and K, plus iron, and you can drink it as a tonic.

Switch with: turnip greens, beet greens, or any other hardy green

Dandelion greens

The greens from this hardy wildflower work well in stir-fries, soups, and sautés and can be used similarly to kale, nettles, or sorrel. They’re full of vitamins, iron, and magnesium and can help with digestion.

Switch with: mustard greens or arugula

Dinosaur kale

Also known as lacinato, dinosaur kale is a darker, flatter variety than curly kale. You can use it anywhere you’d use curly kale, rapini, or cooked spinach. It’s particularly good in smoothies because of its smoother edges and high chlorophyll content.

Switch with: collard or mustard greens

Escarole

This is a key ingredient in Italian wedding soup and resembles a head of lettuce, though it’s more similar in texture to kale and collard greens.

Switch with: chicory, endives, or spinach and arugula

Frisée

This dark veggie resembles lettuce, but can withstand gentle cooking. In a warm grain salad, it’s a crunchy counterpoint to a sweet element such as dried fruit or honey.

Switch with: radicchio with arugula or watercress

Mustard greens

Resembling collards, but with a more peppery, mustard-like flavour, mustard greens have more vitamins A and K and copper when cooked (though less vitamins C and E) and are used in traditional Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese ferments and pickles. They’re also tasty in soups and spicy Sichuan ground meat stir-fries, as well as noodle dishes and soups.

Switch with: turnip or collard greens, kale, or arugula

Parsley

This ubiquitous herb can ease digestion and is rich in vitamins B and C and beta carotene, with calcium, boron, and fluorine to help prevent osteoporosis. All the more reason to heap it generously into tabbouleh and other grain dishes.

Switch with: chervil or cilantro

Radicchio

Often grilled alone or with meat for a caramelized bittersweetness, radicchio looks a little like a small red cabbage.

Switch with: other chicories such as endive or escarole

Rapini

Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini is heartier than some greens because of its mix of small, broccoli-like florets, thin stems, and leafy greens.

Switch with: kale or mature spinach

Sorrel

The star of soupe à l’oseille, a rustic French soup, sorrel is one of spring’s earliest greens. It’s an easy-to-grow perennial that historically provided much-needed vitamin C after a long winter, though its lemony bite softens when heated. Sorrel can occasionally be found frozen. Baby leaves of the red-veined variety are prettier and perfect for salads, but the leaves become tough and woody when mature, unlike French sorrel. 

Switch with: spinach—with a little lemon juice

Sucrine

This lettuce is a cross between romaine and butterhead, with tightly closed, fleshy leaves and a slight sweetness with lots of juicy crunch. 

Switch with: any lettuce

Tatsoi

Interchangeable with bok choy, though a little smaller, tatsoi’s young leaves add an addictively bitter taste to raw salads.

Switch with: bok choy

Ad
Advertisement
Advertisement

READ THIS NEXT

SEE MORE »
Roasted Vegetable Antipasti with Balsamic and Olive Oil
Earthy Goodness

Earthy Goodness

Herbs and mushrooms and roots, yum yum! Not only are these all categories of helpful nutrients that can support your immune health through the annual cold and flu season, but they also fit snugly into the category of adaptogen.  And what is an adaptogen? Often thought of in terms of herbs only, adaptogens are known for their help in supporting our adrenals, glands that produce hormones to help regulate our metabolism, immune system, and blood pressure as well as our response to stress. If the coming season has you stressed about running out of energy, adaptogens may be the ingredients you need to help rebuild and strengthen your empty tank while also cooling your jets and keeping you calm.  Gather while you can Some of these adaptogenic stars can be found in abundance right now. Autumn is mushroom season, and root vegetables are also in season—and plentiful. We’ve coupled the harvested beauties of roots and fungi with healthy adaptogenic herbs that are available all year round.  Incorporating these ingredients into your menu will benefit you in a myriad of delicious ways. From building energy and supporting your immune system to tantalizing your taste buds, each recipe provides a medley of irresistible flavours. Herbs for better health Healthy herbs are an all-year bonus that offer many health benefits, from lowering cholesterol to controlling blood sugar, along with potential protection against cancer. Adding a medley of herbs to your recipes not only adds amazing flavour bonuses, but is also a sure-fire recipe for good health. Here are some of our favourite healthy—and delicious!—herbs:  basil  cilantro dill garlic mint onion  oregano parsley rosemary  turmeric ’Mazing mushrooms Mushrooms, sometimes mysterious and often misunderstood, may offer amazing health benefits to those of us who relish their flavour possibilities—the quiet flavour that makes other ingredients in a recipe pop.  From lowering blood pressure to supporting our immune system and being an incredible source of potassium, who knew such an earthy food could be the anchor for so much goodness? And the height of irony: often grown in the dark, mushrooms are actually touted to be the only “vegetable” (they’re actually their own food group—fungi/mycology) that naturally contains vitamin D.  Here, we’ve listed only a few of the most common mushrooms used in cooking. But did you realize that there are more than 50,000 varieties of mushrooms?! They’re not all edible, but that’s a lot of fungi serving important roles in the ecoculture of our planet and our diets!  boletus  chanterelle  cremini enoki maitake morel  oyster porcini portobello reishi  shiitake white button Root for roots! When it comes to root veggies, the healthy benefits are worth rooting for! These underground beauties offer an amazing wealth of nutrients, including essential fibre and calcium. Root veggies play a huge role in nutritional sustainability. We’ve featured only a few in our recipes here, but the root vegetable category is almost as limitless as the mushroom category. The following are but a few:  beets carrots  celery root (celeriac) daikon fennel  horseradish Jerusalem artichokes  kohlrabi parsnips radishes rutabagas sweet potatoes turnips yams