Even Vegetarians need their greens, and sometimes, if we are truthful, we don’t place enough emphasis on bringing these various and beautiful vegetables into our diet. How are you going? Vegetarian or not, we can use some help to bring green beauty into our lives at the kitchen table.
If we look around the world, various cuisines use tricks (I prefer to call them habits) t0 increase our intake of elements that are healthy and perfectly compliment the cuisine of the area. The ubiquity of yoghurt in Indian cuisine, for example, the Salads of Thailand, the Salad course of France, and the Greens before Dinner custom of parts of Italy.
In a time where dimension and complexity are the buzz words of the food world, simple is a welcome point of difference. Simple, where the taste of the ingredients shine through strongly and identifiably.
The Greens before Dinner custom is one that resonates in this household. It is very simple:
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- Select your greens.
These can be any leafy green (spinach, kale, chard, rapini, curly endive, mustard greens, turnip greens, beetroot greens, etc), stronger lettuces or salad greens (cos, baby spinach, rocket, escarole, water cress etc), Chinese greens such as bok choy, zucchini, broccoli, broccolini, endive, asparagus, cabbage, various sprouts, brussels sprouts, artichokes, celery, leeks, kohlrabi, purslane, spring onions/scallions, okra, beans, fennel, witlof (Belgian endive), green peppers, artichoke, chicory, peas, dandelion greens, cucumber, green herbs, etc.
- Choose your method.
Greens can be served in a number of ways – as juice (try zucchini, apple and cucumber juice in Summer), raw and simply dressed with some olive oil and lemon juice, pureed or mashed, or steamed, sautéed, roasted or grilled and simply dressed. The aim is to keep it simple, easy, and no-fuss. Also try this method: Eat Your Greens Every Day.
- Use your full attention when preparing
You want gorgeous, perfectly cooked vegetables, that are dressed well and will engage your family at the table. If they are being steamed, simmered or sautéed, drain any excess moisture from the greens before serving. Or make soup.
Never overcook your greens!
- Use great ingredients
A reminder to use a good extra virgin olive oil for dressings. You might like to invest in some Toasted Sesame Oil for dressing greens that can be sprinkled with sesame seeds as you serve. Nuts can be quickly toasted and sprinkled over greens. Whizz them quickly in the food processor if they need chopping (for small quantities, chop by hand). Store leftover nuts and seeds in a jar in the fridge for use later in the week. Garlic can be roasted in spare moments, cloves wrapped in a little foil, to be mashed or squeezed over cooked vegetables. Slivers of ginger, garlic, onion or leek can be crisped in hot oil and served on top of raw or cooked vegetables and soups.
Remember that a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime sparks any dish up.
- Serve and enjoy
Serve as an afternoon snack with some bread, flatbread or crackers, as a pre-dinner course with our without other mezze type dishes, or as part of your main meal. And remember, keep it simple!
Recipes to Spark Inspiration
Remember that simply steaming, sautéing, grilling or baking green vegetables and dressing with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper is enough. Throw some nuts or seeds on top for crunch.
Wanting more? browse below for ideas.