DEBORAH SALOMON: Eatin' Of the Greens
Collards come out of the closet for New Year's. Cabbage obliges on St. Patrick's Day.
But greens, glorious other greens, have never been so varied, so available and so in vogue.
Popeye was right about spinach making you "strong." These days we hear how a plant-based diet heavy on dark-colored veggies provides folate, antioxidants, and a dozen other disease preventions on a plate, not in a capsule.
I've been a greenie forever. I eat the kale garnish off the cheese board. I pile sandwiches with spinach leaves instead of lettuce. I eat green beans raw as I'm trimming them for the pot. Snow peas, dipped for a few seconds in boiling water, are sweet as candy. Celery leaves, often discarded, replace fresh herbs in my soups, stuffings and salads.
Spring is good for experimenting with St. Patrick's color.
Background material: Cover dinner plate with a layer of spinach leaves. Spray with olive oil. Place plate in microwave until spinach is just wilted.
Arrange a light entre (chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin) and several bright vegetables (summer squash, beets, sweet potato slices, sauted mushrooms, steamed carrots) over spinach.
Use shredded (for cole slaw) cabbage from a bag in a stir-fry with grated carrots, zucchini matchsticks, scallion ribbons, green peppers, garlic, ginger and a splash of soy sauce. Serve over rice; nobody will miss the meat.
Green up your egg, chicken or tuna salads: chop a good amount of celery (with leaves), parsley, cilantro, scallions, fresh dill or chives in food processor. Add to chopped egg, chicken or tuna with just enough light mayo to bind. Instead of spreading between slices of bread, pile into green "boats" -- rigid inner romaine or Chinese cabbage leaves.
Asparagus begs wrapping. Wrap several spears, cooked crisp-tender, with paper-thin slices of provolone and best-quality ham; nestle in a mini-baguette (even a hot dog roll), and spread with Dijon. Imbed cooked spears in an omelet; sprinkle with grated Swiss. Serve cold, bright green, barely cooked spears with a spicy dip.
Add lightly cooked greens to canned soup for a fresh flavor: kale and French-cut frozen green beans to Manhattan clam chowder. Spinach ribbons to minestrone. Chopped broccoli to cream of mushroom. Frozen tiny green peas to corn chowder. Snipped parsley and scallions to chicken noodle. Or create a low-fat, thick green soup: puree cooked greens in blender, add to premium chicken broth and thicken slightly with mashed potato flakes.
Branch out: broccolini instead of broccoli. Swiss chard instead of collards. Baby bok choy instead of cabbage. Spike salads with peppery watercress, radish or pea sprouts.
Greenaphiles prefer theirs steam-sauteed, not boiled. Spray nonstick skillet and veggies with olive oil. Saute for a few minutes.
Add a small amount of broth or water, cover and cook until barely tender.
Out of sight grated zucchini and (peeled) broccoli stalks melt into spaghetti sauce as it simmers.
Do as the restaurants do. Make dark salad greens a meal by topping with thin slices of steak, barbecued chicken, grilled shrimp, browned potato slices, feta or blue cheese crumbles. Toss with a pungent vinaigrette.
Now, isn't all this more interesting than corned beef and cabbage?
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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