Greens, it’s what’s for dinner.

The farmer’s market is overflowing with greens these days  – cabbage, chard, kale, arugula, lettuces galore – as well as with lovely root vegetables with their greenery still attached – beets, radishes, carrots, turnips. How to use it all without wasting it? I am often asked how I go about doing that this time of year.

The truth is, we eat all those greens. Greens, it’s what’s for dinner every. single. night. Which means sometimes a bit of creativity is required to move past salads and kale chips. I sneak greens into pretty much everything I make except smoothies. (Just no. We like our fruit smoothies with just fruit please, thank you very much.) But beyond those simple ideas, here’s some of what’s in our current dinner rotation that makes quick use of the greens piling up in the fridge:

Beans and Greens. I serve this with toast. Or rice. Or barley. Or quinoa. You get the picture. I often skip the Parmesan, but the lemon juice is crucial. Don’t skip it. You notice it.

Pasta with tuna and arugula. I make this with all variety of greens, some of which need to be cooked a little bit prior to mixing with the pasta. I do various riffs on this, adding or subtracting Parmesan, black olives and white beans, depending on what I have on hand. This recipe is a good starting point and ridiculously easy. Absolutely perfect for busy week nights when you don’t want to cook, because really, depending on which greens you use, all you have to do is boil water for pasta. And even if the greens you use do need a bit of cooking, the entire meal will only take two pots and as long as it takes to make a pot of pasta. What’s not to love? Oh, and adding some fresh lemon juice at the end of this totally takes it to the next level.

Asian noodles with greens and tofu –  I was attempting to make the above Italian inspired dish one evening, only to discover the first thing of noodles I’d grabbed and dumped into boiling water were Soba, which needed a little more flavor to pull the whole thing together. Improvising while halfway through cooking dinner, the first version was a surprise success, although as we ate it, we threw around ideas of how to make it better. I’m still trying to get this one just right, but I find it’s great with heartier greens (kales, beet greens, etc) and instead of tuna, marinated tofu or nuts or mushrooms (or all of the above) for a hearty vegan version. Lots of ginger and garlic here are key – I’ve been using the Tamari Ginger sauce from the Original Moosewood cookbook as both the marinade for the tofu as well as the sauce I finish the dish with, subbing low sodium soy sauce for tamari. I’m not quite ready to share the recipe here, but leave it as a suggestion should you want to play around with your own.  I also use lime juice at the end instead of lemon, as lime seems to pair better with Asian inspired flavors. I find that bit of acid at the last really helps the greens, particularly when using a green that can veer towards bitter, like beet greens.

Pesto – I can, will and do, make pesto out of just about anything. I  recently posted a shot on social media of a pesto I’d made using carrot tops and garlic scapes and was asked about a recipe. I don’t really have a recipe for pesto, per say, more like, I throw greens (arugula, spinach, carrot tops) and/or herbs (basil, oregano, garlic scapes, rosemary/parsley), with just enough liquid to help chop them in a blender or food processor – I find about 1/3 – 1/2 cup liquid (olive oil or broth or both) to 2 cups herbs or greens. I add a handful of nuts – pine, walnut, anything I have on hand really, so the other day I used pecans – along with salt, maybe some lemon juice and garlic. It will keep in the fridge for about a week and can be used as a dip or sandwich spread, thrown into a quiche or yes, tossed with pasta.

Quiche – Start with some sauteed onions, add some greens and lots of garlic until wilted and toss in a quiche. Sometimes I’ll add some of Rachel’s smoked herb blends for an interesting twist.

Greens cook down quite dramatically, so a fridge full can be cooked down in no time flat. Always add lots of garlic – a friend once told me when baking fish, if you think you added too much butter, go on and add more. I feel the same way about garlic and greens – if you think you added too much garlic, add another clove or two. You won’t be sorry.

4 thoughts on “Greens, it’s what’s for dinner.

  1. Patience says:

    I do love beans & greens. I’ll need to make that again soon. I have a recipe for a beans and greens tart that I love. The original recipe is vegetarian, but I add some crumbled bacon to it and it’s off the charts.

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