It’s Green, Let’s Go!

Many of us have made a habit of incorporating popular, good-for-you greens into our diet — kale, spinach, even collard and mustard greens — but what about all the other leafy tops we tend to throw out or compost? Turnip greens, beet greens, radish greens, even carrot tops!

Well, surprise, surprise, they make amazing sautés and salads, are easy to cook and have unique flavors that range from spicy and savory to bitter and buttery.

Lets start with beet greens. Abundantly available, if you buy fresh beets, they are lovely sautéed in a bit of Market District extra virgin olive oil and salt for a simple side dish — especially with hearty entrées like pork or beef. You can also chop them small and add bite to a salad or use in soup stock (that is true of any of the greens we will address here.)

Plus, 1 cup of cooked beet greens provides a good source of fiber, is packed with antioxidants vitamins A and C, an excellent source of magnesium, potassium and low in calories. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, beet greens contain: 220% Daily Value of vitamin A, 60% of vitamin C, 16% of calcium, and 15% of iron. Hard to go wrong, really. They do cook down a bit, so you’ll want fill your pan. Beet greens will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator, so no need to rush.

Carrot greens can actually be pureed into pestos or sautéed, steamed or boiled like other greens — but, you will need a lot of them. The flavor is like parsley with an herbaceous touch of the obvious — carrots. They make a really nice creamed soup or aforementioned pesto with pine nuts and just a touch of garlic.

Dandelions are a real coup because you can eat every part and they can be harvested at any point in the growing season. The larger leaves are more bitter than the smaller, but still add a touch of green earthiness to any salad.

To make the flavor less bitter, steam the leaves and add to a stir-fry or sauté with garlic and lemon. The flowers are actually sweet and crunchy, and can be eaten raw, or our favorite — breaded and fried. Some people even use them to make dandelion wine, but that’s a whole ‘nother story! And if you are really ambitious, the root of the dandelion can be dried and roasted for a coffee substitute, or used in any root veggie recipe.

Purslane is another surprise. You probably have it growing in your garden or in your flower pots and don’t even know it! A staple in the Mediterranean diet, it is succulent, with a crunchy texture, and can be eaten raw or cooked to add a peppery flavor to any dish. Plus, it contains a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C per 1 cup serving, and has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. Add it to salads, sauté it or use it to add heartiness to soups or sauces.

Finally, both turnip and radish greens add a little spice to anything (nice) and cook quickly because they are thinner then say, kale or broccoli leaves. Though we don’t sell broccoli leaves, if you grow it yourself, you are sure to notice a wealth of leaves that can be trimmed, sautéed and eaten for a green dish with a little ginger, soy and tofu.

So, there you have it — a wealth of new go-to greens to try! Stop by our Produce Department for most, or root around in your garden! You’ve got the green light, now go!