The frost has made itself comfortable in our vegetable garden now that the sun is not quite so close to us in the northern hemisphere. Such is the nature of seasonal living. All that remains in our garden are stocks of green, stretching up toward the sky, seeking a glimmer of sun to continue in their chlorophyll-driven pursuit of happiness. Chard, rapini, kale, parsley, and a broccoli-kale hybrid called Brokali, are all that remain above ground. Their leafy edibles offer rich sustenance throughout the winter months, providing much needed nutrients that have all but disappeared elsewhere in the garden; but the thought of eating nothing but leaves for green vegetables, for months on end, may be a little harder to swallow.
For years, our winter greens had gone largely untouched. I must admit, it has been hard not to feel vegetable envy while the rain and snow fall, walking up and down isles of supermarket vegetables grown in far-off lands. The thought of repeatedly eating sautéed greens becomes less and less appealing. However, over the last couple years, I have made a dedicated effort to finding ways to incorporate these backyard superfoods into our everyday eating, and it has become easier for everyone under our roof to enjoy (or at least ignore) them. Here are five different ways I’ve been incorporating these greens (straight from the backyard!) into our meals.
Soups, stews and sauces are a great way to sneak greens into a meal. The flavors of the herbs, spices, and other vegetables help mask the bitter flavors of greens, and are a good place to begin, if greens have not been a regular part of your family’s diet up to this point. My Broken Meatball Minestrone and Good Ol’ Chili both include any or all of the greens from the garden, and our kids hardly notice!
Side dishes can offer a variety of ways to include greens, although it will usually be more obvious. Pasta and potatoes can be a good vessel for serving greens, but as a side dish, greens can even hold their own, sautéed or baked.
Eggs and ground meat can both incorporate greens well, and can serve as breakfast, lunch or dinner. Omelets or frittatas are wonderful with sautéed greens, and meatloaf or meatballs can taste great with a combination of greens and other seasonings.
Smoothies and juices offer an intense burst of enzymes and nutrients. Whether straight greens, or balanced with fruit and other vegetables, this is an excellent way to include greens, and is one of the only ways to reap the benefits of eating this food raw.
Chocolate cake and cupcakes are a great place to hide yet another serving of greens. The chocolate and the sugar or sugar substitute both help to mask the flavor of the greens. Simply puree the greens with the liquid, and continue with the recipe as usual.