Eat your Greens

If you’re used to getting your vegetables at the grocery store, then you’re used to getting only the most sought-after or unique parts.  Or that’s all that survives the journey from wherever-far-away to the produce isle.  When you get farm-direct vegetables, either from a CSA or at a farmers market, you get much more of the plant.  Including those unfamiliar parts.  Most often, those unfamiliar plants are the leaves or greens.

Which are edible?  And how do you eat them?

The short answer is you can (and should) eat greens sold with pretty much everything except carrots.

Okay, the longer answer:  Radish, kohlrabi, and broccoli leaves are not only edible but nutritious.  Beet and turnip greens are not only edible and nutritious, but sought-after.  While you’re selecting beets or turnips for the best roots, the person shopping next to you may be selecting for the greens, with the roots as an afterthought.  Fennel fronds get used as an herb, although the stems are completely discarded (possibly after being used to flavor broth).

I’m told that radish greens can be added to the same salad as the radishes themselves, as a flavorful lettuce.  Their texture seems wrong for that, so I’ve never done so.  I simply toss the radish, kohlrabi, or broccoli leaves in with any other greens I’m cooking.  Radish greens are very much like turnip greens, while kohlrabi greens and broccoli greens are very much like kale.  Discard stems that are too tough.

Many vegetables just aren’t sold with their leaves.  Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so the leaves are cut off before they’re sold.  Corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and the like are picked off of plants and won’t come with leaves.  Turning over the earth to dig potatoes seems to separate them from their leaves.


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4 Responses to “Eat your Greens”

  1. mangochild Says:

    I love eating greens from veg. Broco greens in particular, but I also like turnip greens and – as a recent foray, kohlrabi greens. It makes me sad to see that good food wasted. I’m so glad my CSA and farmers’ market sells the whole veg. Plus, I’ve found veg with their greens still attached helps the veg “keep” longer in the fridge.

  2. zoe p. Says:

    So what are your top two recommendations for what to do with last week’s beet greens? I was not too happy with my epicurious inspirations and experiments from last year . . .

  3. vegyear Says:

    Zoe, that’s my favorite sort of question! My favorite way to eat beet greens is as a side, fresh steamed with some salt, lemon juice, and olive oil (you’ll begin to see a trend), or sauteed in olive oil and then tossed with some lemon juice and salt before serving. They’re also good with cannelini or other white beans, all cooked up in oil, garlic, seasonings (either sage, black pepper, and lemon juice or basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and maybe parmesan) over pasta. So far this year, we’ve been freezing most of our beet greens. They may end up in lentil soup this winter, although I usually use kale for that (my recipe is at ).

  4. zoe p. Says:

    Thanks!! I’m excited to try something beany, I believe.

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