As kids, we are all pretty picky eaters. I have heard theories as to why this is, ranging from the idea that kids have more sensitive tastebuds to the notion that parents simply have a hard time getting their kids to eat in general. I was no different than any other 6-year-old and remember insisting that my mom ONLY get Iceberg lettuce. That staple of many a salad bars and school cafeterias has not found its way into my fridge in over a decade. Now when I buy greens, they are actually green not a greenish white tint. Health benefits aside, there is so much more flavor in the wide world of lettuces beyond your romaine or green oak. So let Dishing take you to the darker side of greens so you know just what to look for next time you are at the farmers market or walking down the produce aisle.
Chard– Perhaps my favorite leafy green, Swiss chard has a unique, almost salty flavor. With stalks ranging in color from red to yellow to purple, this colorful veggie is best sautéed. Try separating the stalks from the leaves, chopping the stalks thinly to reduce any stringiness and throwing them in the pan a little before the leaves to ensure proper cooking. TRY: Sherwoods Post’s house-made corned beef hash with red chard, two eggs and choice of toast.
Collard Greens– This green, often used as a staple of Southern food, is a hearty side dish for anything from red meat to gilled chicken. Traditionally served stewed, the vitamin rich veggie goes great in stir fry as well. Although most recipes call for long cooking times and various amounts of butter, oil, bacon, or ham hock, Collards can also be steamed with lemon and fresh herbs for a healthier preparation. Collard Greens can be found at most grocery stores around town including Lucky’s and the Jackson Whole Grocer.
Mustard Greens– When you get a spicy lettuce mix at the store, this is usually the green adding the kick. The distinct mustard flavor is a great addition to heartier dishes. Best lightly sautéed, this lettuce can hold its own in a bold stir fry or even potato hash. Although sometimes difficult to find, the Jackson Whole Grocer usually has some on stock.
Arugula – This spicy green is a staple of any summertime salad. Also known as rocket greens in most other parts of the world, the leafy vegetable is good in just about anything. Spice up a cold pasta salad with it or substitute it for basil the next time you make pesto. TRY: Bin 22’s Spanish Salad. It is served with arugula, Granny Smith apples, manchego, fennel, marcona almonds, and a honey-sherry vinaigrette.
Watercress – The delicate leaves of this aquatic plant pack a nice punch of flavor. They are balanced nicely with rich or sweet accompaniments and can even be used as a tasty garnish for cooked meats. In the spring, you can actually harvest wild watercress in some of the marshier areas around Jackson and the surrounding areas. TRY: The Watermelon salad at Local. It comes with heirloom watermelon, watermelon radish, watercress, toasted pecans, and a citrus vinaigrette.
Bok Choi – Also know as Chinese cabbage, this crunchy sweet green is a staple of any stir fry. Keep your eye out for baby Bok Choi at the store, it is much more tender and flavorful then its larger, full grown counterpart. You can use Chinese cabbage for much more than just throwing on the stove, thinly slice the white stalks and add them to an asian salad for some extra crunch. TRY: The Carter Country steak at The Kitchen. The steak might be the focus but the sautéed Bok Choi in 5-Spice butter provides a perfect accompaniment.
Kale– We have all heard of it, cooked with it, and maybe even juiced it. While it’s not a secret, you can’t write about leafy greens without including this trendy favorite. That being said, it is such a versatile veggie chances are you haven’t tried all the novel ways to utilize it. Try steaming lacinato or dinosaur kale briefly and then stuffing it like a wrap. Or toss the leaves of green kale with salt, pepper and olive oil and put it in a 250 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes for a great crunchy snack. TRY: The baby kale salad at The Spur served with Vertical Harvest tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, crispy pancetta and Green Goddess dressing.
Frisee – A member of the endive family, frisse is a mildly bitter green great for salads. Traditionally used in French cooking, the lively looking green makes for a great presentation, just make sure to store with wet paper towels even in the fridge so it doesn’t wilt. TRY: Osteria’s frisee salad served with toasted ricotta, beets, and sherry vinaigrette.
Raddichio – This purple cabbage-looking green is often overlooked at the store. The strong bitter flavor means this member of the chicory family does best roasted or if eaten raw, sliced thin. Pick one up at the store next time you are planning a barbecue, the leaves are tasty lightly grilled with salt and a little lemon.
Broccoli Rabe – Although hard to find year round, this traditional Italian green has more application then just stewed and thrown on a roast Italian pork sandwich. Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe is best sautéed with all the other staples of great Italian food like olive oil, garlic, lemon, and red pepper. TRY: Rendezvous Bistro’s orecchiette. This delicious main course has housmade Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, chillies, white wine, lemon, and Parmesan-Reggiano.