Who doesn’t know about the health benefits of spinach? We all grow up watching Popeye the sailor man eating cans full of the green stuff to become strong and healthy. Did you know that the fresh leafy greens like spinach, chard and kale taste even better than the canned version?
This month Too Good To Waste focuses on leafy greens. This is an overview of all you need to know about these lovely, healthy leaves.
Did you know that…
- Spinach and other leafy greens like Swiss chard and silver beet are very delicate vegetables that are best consumed as quick as possible after harvesting?
- Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta carotene, folate (one of the B vitamins), vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium?
- Kale is known to grow best in cold climates where the frost causes the kale to taste sweeter?
- Chard comes in a variety of colours like white, red, yellow and orange, and sometimes get bundled together to be sold as ‘rainbow chard’?
Depending on the type of leafy green you are interested in the seasons vary from March to September for spinach, September to May for silver beet and chard and May to September for kale.
Spinach and other leafy greens are best stored in the vegetable crisper or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Make sure the bag is wrapped tight around the spinach and squeeze out most of the air. Don’t wash the greens before storing as the water will encourage spoilage. Spinach keeps well in the fridge if cooked. Just squeeze out excess moisture and keep covered for a day or two.
Spinach is great both raw and cooked and can be used in many ways. Use young, raw leaves in salads or on a sandwich. Make your own gnocchi with spinach in the dough, stuff ravioli with spinach and ricotta or try a Greek combination of feta and spinach, or a mix or various leafy greens, in a savoury tart. Turn spinach or chard into a dip, a pesto or add to your eggs for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast. Kale is great for soups and stews, it can be used in salads when the leafs are young, or braise it with some garlic and olive oil and serve on a piece of grilled sourdough bread and a generous sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper. Don’t forget the range of Asian leafy greens that are lovely for stir-fries and curries, or a rice dish like pilau/pilaf. The versatility is incredible and many recipes and inspiration can be found. Keep an eye out for inspiration on this blog over the next month!
Spinach, chard, silver beet and kale can all be frozen by blanching or steaming the leafs for about 1-2 minutes, draining and drying very well and packing in a container. Freezing is probably the most used form of preserving for thee vegetables.