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April, 2010

As Green As Greens Can Be

By Mark Mulcahy

We’ve all read about how great organic greens are for us – they contain nearly all of our essential nutrients, such antioxidants, iron, calcium, potassium, iron and fiber, and yet many of us still don’t eat enough of these delicious vegetables.
Organic Kale
That’s what inspired me to teach a class the other night with Nancy Wiemer, County Bounty columnist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Valerie Vanderlaan of New Leaf Community Markets. Our goal was to make greens easier to understand, easier to prepare and more enjoyable. I started our class by having the folks who attended taste raw Lacinato Kale, aka Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale. I asked them what they thought of the texture and taste, and then Nancy passed around the same kale that had been lightly steamed. “Do you like one over the other,” I asked?

Interestingly enough, some folks were curious about how to steam greens (something I take for granted); after all, this was a simple solutions class, so we showed them our quick and easy method and moved on to the next green: a raw taste of Red Russian kale, (a beautiful purple kale that would be a complement to any flower bouquet). They couldn’t believe how sweet this kale could be, and then again we steamed it and passed it around. We proceeded to do this with Red Chard, bunch Spinach, Mizuna greens, and Escarole, each one providing a new and tasty experience for the group. I couldn’t believe the excited chatter that filled the room of 21 as they tried each of the greens, you would have thought we were doing a strawberry or apple tasting.

Fact is, these folks came with open minds and eager mouths to learn about these wonderful spring vegetables. As they ate, I told them about the nutritional benefits, a little history and folklore surrounding each of the varieties, as well as the ways to select and store them. If that wasn’t fun enough, we moved on to cooking and sharing easy recipes that they could do at home. First, we tried Val’s Grilled Teleme in Chard with Roasted Tomatoes. You can try it too, with your favorite or soon-to-be-favorite Melissa’s Organic Swiss Chard.

You’ll need:
4 Melissa’s Organic Swiss Chard leaves
8 oz. Peluso’s Teleme cheese
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
Fresh organic oregano
Olive oil and sea salt
Melissa’s Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, 4 thick slices, roasted for 1 minute on each side
¼ cup pine nuts

Cut away the rib from each chard leaf, but leave each leaf in one piece. Place the leaves in a large bowl and cover with boiling water and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain in a sieve under cold running water. Gently squeeze dry. Lay chard leaves flat on a dishtowel and pat dry. Put a 2 oz. slice of Teleme cheese on the center of each one. Sprinkle each piece with a few hot pepper flakes and a pinch of fresh oregano. Fold the end of the chard leaf over the cheese, fold in the sides, then roll to form a neat package. Lightly brush cheese packages with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over direct heat for 1 minute, then turn and grill on the second side for 1 minute. Set one cheese package on a bed of roasted tomato and sprinkle with pine nuts.

While Val was showing everyone how to make this, Nancy and I were roasting some gold potatoes in the oven for the next recipe.

Everyone loved the warm chard wraps with their oozing Teleme, I know I found a new way to eat chard that night. Mmmm, mmmm!

Next we moved on to Nancy’s Roasted Organic Potatoes and Greens. This is another recipe I had never tried. So easy and sooooooo good. After all, we were starting with roasted potatoes so I knew we were off to a great start. Try this yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Roasted Organic Potatoes and Greens

2 pounds Melissa’s Organic Red or Gold Potatoes
¼ cups olive oil
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. sea salt
2 pounds Melissa’s Organic Greens (kale, chard, etc.)

Wash and cut potatoes into bite size pieces. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic and salt. Lay single layer of potatoes on a sheet pan. Reserve the remaining olive oil mix in the bottom of the bowl to toss with the greens. Roast the potatoes at 350˚F for approximately 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. While potatoes are roasting, cut center rib from greens, if desired. Rinse greens and chop coarsely. Toss the greens with the reserved olive oil mix in the bowl. Add the greens to the cooked potatoes and continue to roast until greens are wilted. Do not over roast. (Though it says not to over roast, the fact is they will just get crispy which many people like. Though to be on the safe side, try it according to the recipe instructions on your first try, and then you can experiment later). Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

This was definitely an oooh and aahh recipe and every plate was completely clean. Lastly we showed them how to make a Quick Spinach Smoothie.

The recipe is simple:
A handful of sliced frozen Melissa’s Organic Bananas
A cup or so of organic apple juice
A scoop of vanilla protein powder
A handful of Melissa’s Organic Spinach

And viola! Something good for you that just about anyone would love. Hopefully this will encourage you to eat more greens. If you would like to learn more about being green or ways to further the organic conversation, tune into Green960.com on Saturday mornings. Helge Hellberg and I have a radio show called

An Organic Conversation at 10 a.m. PST every Saturday. If you can’t catch us live, after it airs, the episode will be uploaded to www.anorganicconversation.com and iTunes as a podcast so you can listen at your convenience. An Organic Conversation is part of The Green Morning, which runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday at www.anorganicconversation.com