Saturday, June 13, 2015

Momma Said Eat Your Greens

Eat your greens? How many times did you hear that growing up, while sitting at the kitchen table, staring forlornly at a lukewarm pile of the dreaded spinach? I heard it a few times. I didn't mind spinach and salad, but if you put some other cooked leaf in front of me..... I was not likely to try it with gusto and clean my plate.

In this day of head to tail eating, and more concern about food waste, people are rethinking the parts of plants we eat and the parts we discard. In particular, the greens. Sure, we have been eating things like turnips greens and mustard greens for ages, but today as I pulled the first batch of radishes from the garden I wondered, what can I do with these greens?

Radish greens are a little unusual. They are a little "prickly" but not overly so. As long as you don't let the radishes grow into tennis ball size radishes, the leaves stay pretty tender. So I began my quest for information and recipes, and suggestions.

I found several recipes for cooked radish greens. Sauteed with garlic and olive oil, or tossed with Asian flavors like sesame oil and soy sauce. Sound pretty decent. One friend told me they like to chop the greens, saute them briefly and toss with crispy fried potatoes. Interesting. I might consider trying that. I also got suggestions to swap the radish greens for basil and make pesto. Huh.... might try that too.

Fresh and crunchy radish greens
I'm much more likely to try them raw, in salads. I really like unusual lettuces and leafy herbs in salads, and I'm pretty sure the peppery taste of the radish leaf would be very happy in my salad bowl. My first harvest of radishes yielded a quart sized bag of radishes and a gallon sized bag of greens, so I have a good amount to test, taste and experiment with.

So let's start with the cooked greens. A quick stir fry with some garlic, sesame seeds and a splash of soy sauce seems to be the way to go. I really love Asian flavors so that's the game plan.

We're going to start by giving the greens a rough chop. I don't want it too small, just not whole leaves. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoons or so of cooking oil in a large skillet. I am adding 2 cloves of fresh garlic that have been bruised/smashed to allow the flavor to diffuse into the oil. Stir fry the garlic for a couple minutes. 

Add the radish greens and cook, tossing to coat evenly with the garlic-infused oil. Stir fry until just wilted. Add sesame seed to taste, and a dash or so of soy sauce. Discard the garlic cloves and serve.

The verdict? Not bad. The greens are mild and remind me of spinach and similar green leafy vegetables. I'd make this again for sure. I imagine they would be really good added to Dragon Noodles.

Leaf lettuce fresh picked from the garden 
In a salad it's super easy- just chop or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and toss with mixed salad greens and vegetables. Don't drown a beautiful fresh salad like this in ranch dressing. Make a quick vinaigrette with a beautiful vinegar like an herb infused vinegar. You can make these at home easily- just pack a couple handfuls of fresh herbs in a jar and add a cap or more of vinegar. Cap, shake and store at room temp for a week, then strain and use. Shake with some Dijon mustard, good olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt and pepper and lightly dress the salad. So delicious and the freshness and flavors of all those vegetables comes right through. 

Easiest vinaigrette ever- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tb
vinegar and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Shake and pour over.
How was the salad? Awesome! The radish greens taste really good, nice and crispy and the stems are tender. The leaves, like I mentioned above, are a little "prickly" but when you eat then, you don't even notice. Tossed with the lettuce and veggies it makes a delicious salad green.

Home grown radishes are by far the best!
I paired the radish greens with an equal amount of leaf lettuce, also from the garden, radishes from the garden, grape tomatoes and chopped carrots, tossed in a Dijon vinaigrette. It was light and perfect. I can't wait for the next crop of radishes! 

Now I'm anxious to check out other leafy greens that I can grow and eat. Of course I have several different lettuce varieties and kale growing, but also beets- beet greens are often cooked and eaten. Time to explore the wide world of leafy deliciousness!

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