Using Garden Greens

The silliest gardening problem I have is using what I grow. I tend to plant one or two each of many different special plants, and then as “I only have one!” of the adult, find myself “saving it” for some occasion which never arrives, and it overmatures or rots in the fridge or gets eaten by rabbits. This is made more likely, as due to an immense maple shading most of my backyard, I primarily focus on greens-producing plants as most likely to yield well – and many leafy things require a good-sized patch in order to make a meal.

What to do with tiny amounts of random green leafies?

  • Assortment salads, of course. But to control the unruly texture of tasty-but-fuzzy things like radish thinnings and young borage leaves, kale thinnings and silvery young lambsquarters, it can be fun to stack the leaves and thinly slice them into a chiffonade. Dress the ribbons with something light like vinaigrette. This also works well to incorporate bright citric sorrel, oxalis or purslane without it being tooo surprising to bite into.
  • Soup! Chopped carrot greens make a great addition to soup you’ve used the young carrots in; same with beets.
  • There is a traditional German/Ukrainian dish that wraps bread dough in beet leaves, then bakes the rolls touching each other in a pan with a bit of cream and onions underneath.
  • Consult your nearest Greek cookbook. Greek cuisine is expert at using lots and lots of different kinds of greens (horta), as their islands are famous for their horticultural variety. Where do you think the word “horticulture” came from?

Use this tasty Greek pie filling baked between layers of pie crust, puff pastry, thick phyllo, or wrapped up in individual egg roll wrappers and fried.

  •  2 pounds mixed Greens of Any Sort
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks (white part plus 3″ of the green part), thinly sliced
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups crumbled feta
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt

Rinse greens, drain lightly and place in a large pot. Cook over high heat, stirring, until wilted. The water clinging to the leaves will help to steam them. Let cool, then squeeze out any extra liquid and chop coarsely.

Saute the leeks in 1/4 cup of the oil until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the wilted greens, parsley, and the rest of the oil and saute for 4 more minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and add the feta, fennel or dill, and pepper to taste. The cheese may be salty enough you don’t need to add more salt.

Stuff into your favorite pastry case and cook according to its directions.


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