We all know that greens are good. But are yours truly great? Now is when they really come into their own. We’re talking about curly and Tuscan kale, English spinach, baby spinach and rocket, silverbeet and chicory. We think it’s time to try something new.
When was the last time you massaged your greens? Creamed them? Charred them? Blitzed them into a chilled soup or pickled their stems? Be bold. Try something new this week. There’s every chance your taste buds will join the rest of your body in saying thanks. Charred
Adding a sharp blast of heat from a fry pan, a barbecue plate or from a hot oven to greens is a way to punch up the flavour of your greens and transform their texture. The darkened edges become crispy and the taste is much more than the sum of its parts. This process works best with hardier leaves like Tuscan kale, curly kale, choi sum and silverbeet, but the same process can also apply to other green veggies like broccolini, snow peas or spears of zucchini and asparagus. Just drizzle the roughly chopped greens with olive oil and grill on a very hot surface until the edges are blackened and the centres are soft to the bite. These can be dressed with something as simple as lemon juice, or a puree of kimchee and nashi pear, or sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and flaked almonds. Serve them with crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, grilled protein or roast beef. (Recipe here
It’s not just the cook who can do with a massage every once and a while. Massaging raw leafy greens like Tuscan kale and curly kale with olive oil and a scrunching of salt helps to break down the cell walls. It not only softens the texture to a much more fork-friendly mass, but releases enzymes that split any bitter tasting compounds. The end result is terrific in a Caesar style salad with shaved parmesan and a creamy dressing made from mayonnaise, anchovies and lemon, but it also works perfectly with a drizzling of good olive oil and caramelised balsamic and some shaved pecorino or ricotta salata. Try it on its own, with a poached or fried egg for a green start to the day, as a side to steak or chicken or pile it on top of garlic rubbed bruschettas. (Recipe here
Many people associate creamed greens with a blow out meal at an American style steak house. There’s no reason not to put them into your regular rotation at home. They balance pure indulgence with an inkling that you’re doing your body a favour by eating your greens. The beauty of them is how many different ways you make them. After blanching and squeezing the greens well (the squeezing is important, otherwise you will end up serving a green-tinged milky puddle), you can warm the chopped leaves and fold them through crème fraiche with a hint of grated nutmeg and black pepper. You can go dairy free and muddle them through cauliflower puree or pureed silken tofu. Or you can take a Middle Eastern twist and make a version of borani and mix your blanched greens with Greek yoghurt, dried mint and a drizzle of olive oil. The only trick is to be mindful of how significantly your pile of raw greens will shrink after you’ve blanched and squeezed them. When in doubt, add more (these will also keep happily in the fridge for a few days). (Recipe here
Pickling greens adds some zip and bite to most plates. It’s also a nifty way to make sure that none of your greens go to waste. The stems of kale, Tuscan kale, English spinach, Asian greens and silverbeet all respond well to a quick pickle brine. You just need bring to the boil a mix of 2 parts vinegar (rice wine vinegar works well) 1 part water, 1 part sugar and a pinch of salt, plus aromatics like mustard seeds, coriander seeds and some citrus zest. Pour these over your stems in a clean jar and seal and let them get to know each other for a few days in the fridge. Once opened they will keep in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Serve these on the side of any marinated meats, or diced in flatbreads or sandwiches. (Recipe here
A chilled green soup is an easy solution for a light lunch or entrée. All it takes is a few cups of freshly washed greens blended until smooth with your choice of soft herbs, cucumber, ripe avocado and a dollop of yoghurt to garnish. Because the greens are kept raw, the final colour is as cheerful as the sight of a freshly mowed backyard. Keep it chilled in the fridge until just before serving. Add an antipasto platter, some good quality sourdough and spring entertaining couldn’t get any easier. (Recipe here
A tangled pile of braised greens makes the perfect side dish for almost any meal. The key to making it something people go back for seconds and thirds of is to ensure your braising liquid has plenty of flavour. A good quality stock will work, as will a broth made from miso paste and water. Another trick is to add garlic to the olive oil at the start, then double down on that flavour by using a garlic clove on the tines of a fork to stir your greens. Season at the end with a touch of salt or soy sauce and serve as a side to most meals. They work particularly well as a side to grilled proteins or grain bowls and keep well in the fridge for a few days to add some greens to breakfast of eggs or smashed avo on toast. (Recipe here