Cooking Fresh

Turn Over a New Leaf

By Sarah Fritschner / Photography By E. S. Bruhmann | Last Updated December 02, 2017
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Delicious ways to enjoy more leafy greens in the new year.

We resist the depths of darkness — short days when the sun hangs low in the sky — by lighting candles and homes and trees and windowsills. We emerge from those depths to even colder days, but with hopeful resolve: Next year will be better. We’ll be better! 

These are also the most difficult months to shop for fresh, local food, though the root crops and storage crops are still hanging on, and a few people may still have greens in their gardens and at their farmers’ markets. 

If you are resolving to increase your use of local food in 2018, consider talking to your favorite farmer about buying a case of greens, or a bushel of red bell peppers on the verge of going bad, or a box of tomato seconds, and spending part of a Saturday preparing them for the freezer. Or plan to mince small hot peppers to freeze for using throughout the winter. Or roast garlic, or exercise any of the many options available to the lazy home preserver. 

If you’re resolving to eat healthier, one huge step is to increase the amount of greens you eat. It’s virtually impossible to eat too many dark leafy greens, and eating more has many wonderful healthful qualities too varied, numerous and boring to mention lest we slip into “nutritionism,” the quality described by Michael Pollan as our tendency to determine the worth of our food by the scientifically proven nutrients it contains. 

Not necessary. Greens are good. And they can taste good. Whether you’re putting a handful of baby spinach in your banana-coconut smoothie, cooking kale with white beans and sausage, chopping collards to braise with chicken and chiles, or filling a bowl with romaine leaves to top with croutons and tomatoes, greens are great in every season and myriad ways. 

Watching a great fluffy pile of greens nearly disappear into a dish can be disconcerting to the cook — they can shrink to imperceptible shreds. This shrinkage can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your family’s enthusiasm for greens. If you’d like greens to have more presence, add more to the dish. Any recipe that calls for a measured amount of greens is in truth only making a best guess: Use your judgment to adjust to family taste. 

In case you are seeking to pile on resolutions for the start of the New Year, these green-a-licious recipes happen to be gluten free and vegetarian. 

Greens and Shiitakes with Rice Noodles

  This recipe can be made with seasonal vegetables of all kinds. I’ve used hakurei turnips and broccoli in the fall (in addition to the greens). Feel free to add more vegetables than are...

Savory Green Rice with Chickpeas

Fennel is the distinctive seasoning found in Italian sausage. I use an old coffee grinder I bought at a yard sale to grind the fennel seeds in this recipe. This dish would taste fine without the...
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