Chard

Believe it or not, there are lots of other green vegetables besides kale. (I would not lie to you.) With kale reaching mainstream audiences now, many chefs are turning to some of those “other” leafy greens for culinary explorations. Kale is still king when it comes to nutrients, but many of these leafy greens are not far behind. Have you given any of them a try?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just named leafy greens as the number one source of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. But by no means should you stop eating them. Greens are highly susceptible to environmental contaminants (read: toxic factory farm animal poop), so always opt for organic greens or grow your own—they’re super easy.

1. Chard

Rich in vitamins A, K and C, as well as minerals, fiber and protein, chard is full of healthy nutrients. It’s often found in Mediterranean dishes and cooks up similar to spinach, losing more of its volume than kale. Try sautéing it with a hint of ginger and soy sauce for a spicy side.

2. Arugula

Bitter and spicy, arugula is a wonderful winter green perfect for salads and sandwiches. You can even lightly stir fry it. Arugula is a great source of vitamins A, K and folate. It’s high in potassium, calcium and even contains healthful omega fatty acids. Pair it with something sweet like a ripe summer tomato or crisp pear in a salad.

3. Watercress

Bright and peppery, watercress has a delightful bite similar to arugula. It’s been touted as a healthy superfood—even believed to have anti-cancer properties. Use it in salads, sandwiches or atop a (vegan) Vietnamese bowl of Pho.

4. Mustard

Besides kale and collards, mustard is the best option for reducing cholesterol by eliminating bile from the digestive tract. Mustard is also full of potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and flavor! Like its namesake seed, mustard greens have a kick. Young leaves work well in salads, while mature leaves can be steamed or sautéed as other greens.

5. Dandelion

And you thought it was just a weed. Truth is, dandelion is one of nature’s most dynamic healers. It can cleanse the blood, heal the liver, dissolve kidney stones, purify skin and help you maintain your ideal body weight! Add them to your favorite green smoothie recipe, sauté them up or use like lettuce in a salad or sandwich.

6. Mizuna

A mix between arugula and mustard, mizuna’s flavor is piquant, bright and earthy. You’ve likely had it in a salad green mix, but it’s worthy of eating on its own. Try it with sliced cucumbers, a pinch of salt and lots of lemon.

7. Bok choy

Also called Chinese cabbage, bok choy is much lighter than cabbage. It’s watery and sweet and very flavorful as well as a great source of vitamins A and C. Use it as you would cabbage—raw or cooked. It’s excellent in stews and Asian-inspired stir-fries. Also try it in a shepherd’s pie.

8. Rapini

Also called broccoli rabe, this is a tremendous addition to your diet. Full of calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A and C, it’s also full of incredible flavor and texture. It really needs little else—saute in a bit of olive oil (add garlic if you like) and a bit of salt and pepper. A dash of lemon.  Pairs perfectly with anything Italian and al dente.

9. Lamb’s quarters

Lamb’s quarters is still a food you can find growing wild in this country. It’s easy to grow yourself, too. You can find it sold in specialty markets (or ask your farmers market vendors). Sometimes it’s sold as mache. A very rich source of vitamins A, C, K and folate, it’s also high in calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Eat them raw in a salad or lightly sautéed with olive oil.

10. Tatsoi

Also called spinach mustard, it looks a little like baby bok choy.  Rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamin C, it’s a healthy addition to your salads or sautéed greens. With a little bit of a kick, it’s less bitter than mustard or mizuna, but still quite flavorful.

11. Collards

A cabbage relative, collards are a staple in Southern cuisine. Like its cousin cabbage, the mighty collard is rich in soluble fiber and anticancer properties including diindolylmethane and sulforaphane. Its hardy flavor and texture makes it a perfect stand in for kale. Use it as a raw tortilla wrap, or stuff it like cabbage leaves.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Muffet