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Great Greens

When I was a kid my mom never had to tell me to eat my greens. I’ve always loved them just about any way I could get them—and I still do. This year our vegetable garden will give us escarole, arugula, spinach, chard, two kinds of lettuce, and kale. That should keep us up to our necks in leafy greens until next winter.

There’s a lot to love about greens. Sure, they’re super-nutritious and they taste great. But what I like best about them is their versatility. Take kale, for example. You can eat it raw in a salad or fried as chips. You can steam, boil, or sauté it. And that’s just for starters.

My own kale isn’t ready to pick yet because we planted late, but the other day I bought a huge bag of curly kale at the supermarket. It wasn’t very tender, so I blanched it for a few minutes (which also helped it fit better in my refrigerator).

I sauteed some of it with garlic, white beans, and brown rice. I added a handful to a soup. I even used some in a smoothie (with pineapple and bananas—yum). That left enough to serve as a side dish to accompany some barbequed seitan and roasted sweet potato sticks.

When I have tender baby kale leaves, I like to serve it raw as a salad combined with diced avocado and a squeeze of lemon. That’s how I had planned to serve this blanched kale, but at the last minute (while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting), I also added some diced mango and a few dried cranberries. The result was a kaleidoscope of color and amazing bursts of flavor. What could have been just a “side of kale” turned out to be the star of the entire meal.

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