Dark leafy greens are often matched in their botanical appearance by a shroud of apprehension about their taste. The sometimes bitter note of fresh leaves can foster a hesitation about their inclusion in simpler meals for fear of overpowering subtle flavours. Coming to appreciate their versatility though is a revelation; these rich and earthy greens incorporate effortlessly into a number of dishes and in my opinion add a heartiness that other edible leaves want for.
Swiss chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach and rainbow chard are all of the same plant family grown for their stem and leaves. Beetroot leaves are likewise another close relative although these are often discarded in favour of the bulb. These plants are packed with chlorophyll, nitrates and antioxidants, as well as a range of other dazzling minerals. To reap all that goodness though mature plants benefit from slight cooking to break down the cellular structure and oxalates.
Young leaves are milder and more suitable to be eaten raw. Pair these with an extra virgin oil such as olive or macadamia and a squeeze of lemon; they combine well with salads or as a garnish. The mature leaves and stems sweeten with heat, they can be steamed and tossed with a fragrant oil such as sesame or flax seed and a seasoning of salt and pepper to enjoy on their own, or they can be folded through sautéed mushrooms, slow cooked beans, soups, stews and frittata; the opportunities are endless.
In this dish the greenery is front and centre. Dressed with a sharp, bright sauce and paired with buckwheat noodles it makes a wholesome and light meal. For something a touch more filling see the also complementary to serve with notes.
Mid-Summer Greens / Serves 2 - 4
4 tightly pack cups of greenery (I used beetroot leaves, rainbow chard and rocket)
150g green beans
200g buckwheat noodles
Juice of 4 limes
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 red chilli, finely diced
3 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat and add the buckwheat noodles and coconut oil. Simmer for 6 - 8 mins before draining and rinsing. Combine the lime juice, tamari, maple syrup, chilli and ginger in a large pan and it bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until the liquid reduces by a third. Meanwhile wash and slice the greenery into long ribbons and prepare the beans by trimming the ends and slicing into 1cm rounds. Add the beans to the pan and sauté for 2 mins or until tender. Add half the greenery to the pan and gently fold through until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and fold through the remaining greenery, the residual heat will finishes these off. Divide the noodles and spoon over the warm greenery. Serve immediately.
Seasonal guide / temperate climates
Chard, annual; green beans, late spring though late summer
Select chard, silverbeet and/or beetroot leaves that are vivid green and with as little wilting as possible. Organic produce commonly has some blemishes and holes though this can be overlooked so long as the stems are firm and crisp. Do not wash chard before storing as it will encourage spoilage, rinse instead before use. Chard should be stored in an air tight bag or container and placed in the refrigerator.
Boiled egg, toasted nuts and seeds, avocado, fresh mushrooms