This is part ONE in my series “Eat your Veggies”!
There is no question that vegetables are an important staple of a healthy diet, both for our personal well-being but also for that of our planet. So every excuse to incorporate a great variety of veggies in our culinary repertoire is a good idea. As you know, I have expanded my own vegetarian and vegan cooking on Cuisinicity (that was my new year’s resolution!). So, it occurred to me that, every so often, I should bring back one of my “old” posts featuring an individual vegetable and update it with new recipes I have created since, or write a brand new one on a vegetable I have only started to explore this year. Are you with me?
This week for part one, I am revisiting spinach and expanding it to include other leafy greens from the cruciferous family such as arugula, kale, escarole, Swiss chard, collard greens and yes, even brussels sprouts. There are many more veggies from the cruciferous family of course but that will suffice for now; I will explore them too in due time-I promise!
Leafy greens and Cruciferous veggies in general are filled with nutrients and are outstanding for your health. Because this is beyond the purview of this post, I have provided links to each respectively above, so that you can go check out their nutritional virtues for yourself.
The beauty of leafy greens is that you can, with perhaps the exception of brussels sprouts, interchange them in your cooking (just don’t overcook the collard greens), depending on your preference or what you have on hand. So you can be creative,”experiment” and just have fun with my recipes! In fact, I look forward to hearing back from you on your experience with changing this green for that one and reporting back on your results-you can’t lose!
I just want to encourage you to incorporate as many of them in your culinary repertoire as you can. Here is one quick and easy way to cook brussels sprouts, for example. You’ll find the “recipe” (in quotes because it is almost presumptuous to call it that– it’s that ridiculously simple!) here: Simply Brussels Sprouts.
If you are new to Cuisinicity, I will refer you back to my original post entitled “Superb Spinach!” here (if only to see some wonderful baby pictures of my Rebecca and Corinda!) so you can check out my old favorites, some raw (of course my Simply Spinach Dip, pictured above is among them, so ridiculously easy and quick to make too!) but here again experiment with different greens for your salads–check out how to cut collard greens here), some cooked (Oh my goodness I don’t think you have paid enough attention to my Orange Spinach Wild Salmon, or my Pasta Fagiole with spinach mushroom marinara sauce, both of which would work just as beautifully with arugula or escarole), I could list them all (did I mention my surprisingly delicious Spinach Pear Smoothie? I think it would do just as well with Swiss chard or collard greens) but I digress…
For now, let me introduce you to my latest ones!
My Apple Hazelnut Kale Salad: The combination of the sweet & sour apple cider vinaigrette, fresh grated apple and chopped hazelnuts with the finely chopped kale is absolutely superb! I now use this salad as a foundation: by that, I mean that I like to “build on it” and make it more of a centerpiece all-in-one meal (how wonderful is that?!) so I can add some grains and legumes or beans to it for protein–French lentils or quinoa or farro blend beautifully in this salad–and of course more thinly sliced or grated veggies such as carrots, fennel, radishes… anything goes! Take it away!!
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip: I love the combination of fresh spinach and artichoke and this creamy dip is absolutely marvelous, sizzling right out of the oven! I have made it as healthy as can be–no mayo, or cream, or cream cheese, or sour cream or any of those ingredients I have seen in most recipes for this dip. I am definitely trying this one out with other greens and will report back.
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Lasagna: If you love creamy spinach artichoke dip, you will absolutely love this lasagna! It is so rich tasting but of course I have upgraded it. I haven’t had a chance to try other greens, escarole, or kale or chard in this recipe but I bet they will work just as well. I’ll let you know…
Shrimp Arugula Provençal: The combination of shrimp and arugula is absolutely perfect in this rich sauce imbued with Provençal flavor–fresh cherry tomatoes, calamata olives, thyme and garlic–just luscious! I love to serve it over wholegrain pasta or whole farro. I am definitely going to make it with baby spinach or kale as well.
Tuscan Bean Spinach (and arugula) Pasta (vegan): This is a throw-everything-in-the-pot kind of dish that you make 15 minutes before you sit down to dinner! It is filled with spinach and whatever other greens you would like (I love baby arugula in particular, but kale would also be wonderful!) and the beans blend in perfectly with the white wine to create an almost creamy sauce (just take a look at the photo, amazing, right?!).
Quinoa Kale and Corn Salad: Such a tasty vegan salad that is as delicious as it is nutritious! It is very simple to make but it requires some assembling-still, it is so worth it!
Tuscan White Bean & Escarole Soup: I have recently updated this recipe to include whatever favorite “greens” you like, by throwing them in the hot soup, right before you are about to serve it, so it just has time to wilt. I especially love this soup with fresh escarole but I think collard greens (click here to see how to chop them), or Kale would be perfect too. Either one is a wonderful addition, both nutritionally and culinarily.
Spinach Potato with orange Caramelized Onions: Fresh baby spinach, thinly sliced potatoes and caramelized onions bake slowly in an orange, white wine vinegar and olive oil marinade, and the result is just delicious and nutritious. I think baby arugula would work just as well.
A little fun tidbit to end on a leafy green note: Do you know why the culinary term “à la Florentine” refers to dishes prepared on a bed of Spinach?
Apparently Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, Queen of France in the 16th century. The story goes that when she moved from her hometown of Florence Italy to France to marry the French King, she brought along her own cooks so that they could prepare spinach in all the ways she loved. The expression “à la Florentine” (The Florence way) stayed to this day and… there you have it!