Food: Tips on how to eat green all year |

Food: Tips on how to eat green all year

Angela Shelf Medearis and Gina Harlow



2/3 package or more of whole-wheat, thin spaghetti

16 ounces fresh collard greens (about 20 big leaves)

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 small cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or honey

3 ounces Parmesan cheese

2 lemons, cut into wedges


1. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain quickly, reserving a bit of cooking water, and set aside.

2. Cut out center rib of each collard green. Stack a few greens at a time and roll them up into a cigar-like shape. Slice across the roll as thinly as possible (1/8 to 1/4 inch). Shake up the greens and give them a few chops so the strands aren’t so long.

3. Heat a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium heat and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden and fragrant. Pour nuts out of skillet and save for later.

4. Return skillet to medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle in a big pinch of red pepper flakes, garlic and lemon zest, and stir. Once oil is hot enough to shimmer, toss in all the collard greens. Sprinkle greens with salt, pepper and agave or honey. Saute greens for about three minutes, stirring often to keep from clumping.

5. Remove pan from heat. Scoop greens into pasta pot and toss with another drizzle of olive oil, adding pasta water if necessary. Divide onto plates, top with pine nuts and Parmesan shavings, and serve with two big lemon wedges per person. Serves 4.

If you’ve embraced the idea of cooking seasonally, or if you’ve found a farmers market that makes you happy, then you know there are seasons that are somewhat barren. When eating seasonally, sometimes there’s not a cornucopia of choices when it comes to fresh, locally sourced produce.

The whole idea of cooking and eating seasonally is to adapt our menus accordingly. But as spring approaches and the weather thaws, we know that soon there will be stalls and stalls of delicious food. While we’re waiting for spring peas and new potatoes, we still canenjoy some cool-season delicacies.

Greens of all kinds thrive best in cooler weather. Many also mature quickly. That’s why in early spring you’ll find them almost everywhere. From lettuce and spinach to collards and chard, these leafy foods are at their best when in-season and fresh-picked. They are tender and sweeter, and often hardly resemble the same vegetable you find in the grocery in the middle of summer.

The greens family of cruciferous vegetables also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They’re a great way to add antioxidants to your diet, and contain significant amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.

If you’re planning a vegetable garden, planting greens is an easy way to get it started. In the coldest regions, some varieties of greens can be planted after the threat of frost and will be ready by late spring. In more temperate regions, they can be planted in the fall. Once the plants are established, they can take a few days of freezing temperatures. You can even plant them in already established perennial beds. Some, like chard and kale, are quite lovely to look at.

When cooking with greens, the sky’s the limit. They can be sauteed, pureed, steamed and tossed in salads. With many varieties to choose from, now is the time to replace the spinach in your standard recipes with collards, turnip greens or kale. You also might want to liven up your salads by adding dandelion greens, endive or mache. Many greens can replace fresh basil to make a delicious and interesting pesto.

For a twist on a traditional spaghetti dish, try my recipe for collard green ribbons with garlic, lemon and pasta. Cutting tender collard greens into ribbons and tossing them with olive oil, garlic, lemon and pasta transforms it into a delicious and hardy new dish.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

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