4 Bites: Baby greens
Picked younger, baby greens are sweeter, tender and more versatile than their older siblings, and just as good for you.
Coriander, also known as cilantro in Spanish, or Chinese parsley, can be a divisive tasting herb. Baby coriander, which is picked young, washed and bagged ready to eat, has a much less astringent odour and is subtler and sweeter on the palate. Use it where regular coriander would have been overpowering or use it wherever you use regular coriander for a milder flavour.
• Use as a green in sandwiches, tacos or burgers.
• Add to juices and smoothies for a boost of vitamins A, C and K.
• Use as a base in Indian or Thai marinades for meats and fish.
• Add handfuls into casseroles and chicken or fish broths at the end of cooking, just to wilt.
• Chop into savoury muffin, scone or quiche recipes.
• Blitz (in combination with parsley and mint leaves) into salsa verde or pesto.
A member of the cabbage family, kale has been eaten since the Roman times, but it can be tough and tricky to prepare and it isn’t great raw. Enter baby kale, a tender more palatable salad green straight from the bag (with a quick wash), and equally as versatile and tasty when cooked. It’s instant nutrition in a green.
• Mix fresh, washed leaves with other greens for salads and add it to juices and smoothies.
• Finely shred and add to wraps, tacos, omelettes, quiches and frittatas. Or create a delicious slaw with cabbage, beets, citrus and fresh herbs.
• Add large bunches raw to soups and stews, and toss it through roast vegetables with a good splosh of spicy vinegar for a warm salad.
• Wilt by sauteing quickly in olive oil, garlic and ginger to serve as a quick side dish with scallops, fresh fish or grilled meats. Serve it for breakfast with poached eggs on top, or in a savoury bread and butter pudding, with sausage and onions.
• Give it a quick steam, then cool in iced water to maintain its vibrant green colour and finely chop into stuffings, scones, sausage rolls or pizza toppings, or season with a little sesame oil and seeds and add it to a healthy rice bowl meal.
• Wash and dry it, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake in oven to make kale chips.
Silverbeet is a member of the chard family and is in the same sub-species as beetroot. Baby silverbeet has a softer, sweeter taste compared to regular silverbeet and can be used in more ways.
• Use baby silverbeet in any of the baby kale ideas.
• The Fresh Grower, Allan Fong (whose baby greens you will find widely available) reckons baby silverbeet is best quickly stir-fried in a hot wok or pan, with a generous knob of butter, salt and pepper, and maybe a splash of gin. He’s not wrong.
• Make a sweet and sour side dish by sauteing with garlic, chopped dates and vinegar (or raisins), and seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
• Simmer baby silverbeet, kale and fresh coriander in chicken stock with garlic, celery, onions, and potato, then blitz it for a fantastically green and delicious soup. Or portion it out, freeze and use as a power-packed stock for future soups, stews or pasta dishes.
• If you must boil the silverbeet, add some ginger and salt to the water and be sure to serve the cooking liquor as a quick elixir for whatever ails you.
Also known as spring cabbage, or the trendy lettage, it is sweeter, less fibrous and incredibly moreish compared to its coarser big brother.
• Use it raw as you would lettuce, in tacos, sandwiches and inventive fresh coleslaws.
• Use the leaves singularly, as you would lettuce cups, to replace the bread component of a dish. Or quickly blanch and refresh the leaves, and make fresh spring rolls. Roll the blanched leaves around leftover roast meats or veges, a little gravy or salsa verde. Make baked fish parcels using a Japanese-style marinade.
• Experiment with traditional cabbage soup recipes such as borscht.
• Finely shred with carrot and onion, and pickle it as the Haitians do with a fiery chilli pepper, to make pikliz. It’s delicious on everything! Or try your hand at sauerkraut or kimchi.
• Cut the cabbage into chunks, drizzle with vinegar, herbs and olive oil, and roast until tender and caramelised.
• Substitute chunks of baby cabbage in your favourite brussels sprout recipes.