Dark leafy greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K. Collards and mustard greens are also excellent sources of folate, important for women of child-bearing age. You may have avoided these nutritious greens in the past because of their bitter reputations, but when you pair them with judicious amounts of intensely flavorful ingredients—like feta cheese, bacon and walnuts—it is easy to balance their bitterness. Now is the time to celebrate the dark side and welcome these beautiful greens into your kitchen.
Beets are the pagan symbol for love and beauty. We grow 3 varieties red, gold and chioggia, an Italian heirloom variety that has concentric circles of white and pink, purple or red. Each beet has several greens growing from it. The greens have a rich, earthy flavor.
Chard is not Swiss; in fact, the first varieties have been traced back to Sicily. We are growing red and green this season, some find green chard has the most mild taste—quite similar to spinach, in fact, and red chard to have a stronger, earthier flavor, like that of beets (chard is from the beet family).
Southerners traditionally serve collard greens on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas, to ensure wealth in the coming year. You can spot collards by their flat, broad leaves. While many other greens wilt down when cooked, collards keep most of their volume. Perhaps the most neutral in taste, they benefit from other big flavors in a dish. Our collards are extremely tender and do not need to be stewed as the old southern favorites did. Collards pair well with smoky flavors like that from bacon, paprika and chili powders.
Social clubs in northwestern Germany take “kale tours” in January, visiting country inns to consume large quantities of kale, sausage and schnapps. We grow several varieties including Purple Peacock, White Peacock, Redbor (or red Kale) Red Russian, Lacinato (Toscano or dinosaur) and curly kale (Green or Winterbor) . Kale’s sharp, peppery flavor is best balanced by a touch of acidity or sweetness. I like to add both acidity from a small amount of white vinegar like sherry or champagne (also a squeeze of lemon juice is perfectly fine) and sweetness from a handful of dried fruit like cherries, golden raisin or cranberries.
These pungent, peppery greens are popular around the globe, showing up in everything from Southern soul food to Asian stir-fries. Identify them by their frilly edges. Their flavor is bold so you may want to combine them with other more mild dark leafy greens, like chard, to balance their strong flavor.
Kale, Sausage & Lentil Skillet Supper
From EatingWell: January/February 2008
Cooking the lentils in red wine adds rich, earthy flavor to this one-dish skillet supper. We prefer French green lentils in this dish—they’re smaller, cook faster and hold their shape better than brown lentils. Look for them in well-stocked supermarkets or natural-foods stores.
4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 1/4 hours
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 12-ounce package cooked chicken sausage
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 1 cup lentils, preferably French green
- 12 cups chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a clean cutting board.
2 Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and onion to the pan and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add water and wine, increase heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add lentils, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for 40 minutes.
3 Add kale, sage and salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and kale are tender, about 10 minutes more. Slice the sausage and stir into the pan along with pepper. Cover and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.