While I’ve known about the health benefits of leafy green vegetables for years, I often find myself shying away from these great greens for lack of proper cooking knowledge or inspiration. One of our readers felt the same, so we called in Nicole Straight, our Time to Eat! chef, to demystify these power veggies. Join her as she selects her ingredients at the local Farmers Market, and then goes back to the kitchen to whip up some great quick recipes (there's even one that kids will eat). But first...a little background on this nutritional powerhouse.
There is no food out there that packs the nutritional punch of dark green leafy vegetables. Calorie for calorie, it just doesn’t get any better. Yes, we are talking about kale, beet greens, chard, collards and spinach, to name just a few. These veggies are a rich source of minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins including vitamins K, C, E, and B. These leafy greens are also full of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our bodies from cellular damage. Adding these to your diet has the benefits of taking a multi vitamin, and many can be found in great variety at your local Farmers Market. Here are some recipes that feature these delicious greens:
Crispy Baked Kale Chips (kids love them!)
Spinach Tortellini with Garlicky Chard
Kale with White Beans, Truffle Oil, and Garlic Bread Crumbs.
Try them, they are amazing, and my kids even loved them! No one was more surprised than me that the girls loved them.
Preheat oven to 425. Rinse 1 head of Kale. Tear off leaves from stems, try to leave the leaves in largish pieces, about 3" and discard the stems.
Lay them on a Silpat lined cookie sheet, it's ok if they are slightly bunched together.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the kale leaves and add a sprinkling of Lawry's seasoning salt or garlic salt.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they just begin to turn brown, don't overcook them as they will taste burnt.
They are crisp and almost melt in your mouth.
Spinach Tortellini with Garlicky Swiss Chard
1 package of spinach tortellini
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cubes of frozen garlic
1 bunch of Swiss chard
¼ C. Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water in a medium sized pot. Heat a large nonstick pan on medium high and add olive oil and garlic paste. Stir until garlic paste is incorporated into oil. Wash and roughly cut the leaves from the Swiss chard. Once water boils, add tortellini. When the oil is hot, add the cut Swiss chard, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. When pasta floats to the surface, remove, and add to Swiss chard pan. Stir to incorporate, and add ¼ C Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
Kale with White Beans, Truffle Oil and Garlic Bread Crumbs
This is a delicious kale dish that can be eaten either hot or cold, and it's a snap to make.
2 Tbs. olive oil
3-5 cubes frozen garlic
5 C. chopped fresh kale. I found a bag of freshly chopped kale at the supermarket. If you can't find kale, Swiss chard will work too.
1/2 C. vegetable or chicken stock
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 12oz. can of rinsed white beans
1/2 C. toasted almonds
1/2 C. Italian bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
drizzle truffle oil (optional BUT amazing!!)
Heat a large nonstick pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil and frozen garlic. While the garlic melts, rinse kale and add to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds then add stock. Continue cooking for approximately 5 minutes or until kale starts to cook down. While the kale is cooking, add the rinsed beans and stir to incorporate. Add a good pinch of kosher salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium, cover and continue cooking for another 6 minutes.
While the kale cooks, toss bread crumbs, garlic salt and 1 Tbs. olive oil. Toast in a small pan until they turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Before serving kale, drizzle truffle oil, add almonds and top with toasted bread crumbs. You can also add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few red pepper flakes.
Find more great recipes from chef Nicole Straight on the Time to Eat! web site.