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A New Springtime Favorite!

By Mark Mulcahy

Image of Organic Collard Greens
Springtime and fresh greens just seem to go hand and hand. Perhaps it's because this time of year makes us think about eating a little less heavy, or maybe it's just because Melissa's organic greens seem to be abundant in the marketplace. Whatever the reason, you should follow your instinct and add them to your diet. Why? Because they taste great and are great for you. Just look at Melissa's organic collard greens; like many greens, they are an excellent, dairy-free calcium source. One-cup of cooked collard leaves can supply 25-35% of your daily calcium needs. Or how about arugula? It has eight times as much calcium content as iceberg lettuce and more vitamin C than any other salad green. It is no wonder the Italians have eaten it since Roman times and consider the oil made from its seeds a good luck charm and aphrodisiac.

Both collards and arugula are members of the Brassica family, along with cabbage and broccoli. The phytochemicals in these greens, known as indoles, help protect us against stomach, colon and breast cancer. Their leaves' deep green color tells us they are also high in beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant that helps rid our body of pollutants.

Wow, who needs vitamins when you've got greens like these around? The funny thing is that even with all of the calcium sources available these days, some of us may not be getting all the dietary calcium we need, and, in the long run, this could lead to serious bone loss. Amazingly over ten million men and women of all ages in the U.S. have osteoporosis, and believe it or not; it's on the rise.

Part of the problem stems from some of our bone-depleting dietary habits, like heavy soda and/or alcohol consumption, but for some, lactose intolerance is the issue.

Whatever the reason, Melissa's spring greens can be part of the solution. If you think collards and arugula are a bit strong flavored for your tastes, consider this during the cooler spring days, these two robust greens have a much more mellow flavor and may be easier to enjoy.

If you're still unsure about them, start with some Melissa's chard. Chard has many health benefits of other greens but a much milder flavor and two distinct textures with the leaf being soft and tender and the stems with a firmer texture. It doesn't matter which color you choose green, red, gold or rainbow; they are all equally good.

Try this recipe to get a roll with Melissa's spring greens.

When I was in my twenties, these were just called chard roll-ups and were usually made with ground beef and onion. But the other day, I found this recipe called Involtini Vegetariani. I mean, who wouldn't want to be invited over for Involtini Vegetariani? And, it tastes as good as it sounds!

Involtini Vegetariani AKA Swiss Chard and Potato Rollups

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

8 large leaves Melissa's Organic Swiss Chard
2 large Melissa's Organic Red Potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ pound (110 g) Swiss Cheese, finely diced
3 Melissa's Plum Tomatoes; blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons grated not-too-sharp Pecorino Romano
4 Sun Dried Tomatoes, canned in oil, minced
Several leaves fresh Sage
½ clove Garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Wash the potatoes and boil (or better yet, steam) until a skewer penetrates them easily, 30 to 40 minutes. Let them cool, and as soon as you can handle them, peel and rice with a potato ricer, gathering the riced potato in a bowl. Immediately work in the beaten egg, grated pecorino, half of the plum tomatoes, Swiss cheese, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Blanch the chard leaves for a few seconds in the boiling water; drain, pat dry, and lay them flat on your work surface. Spread the filling evenly over the leaves and roll them up, being careful not to tear.

Heat the butter with the sage in a skillet large enough to contain the Involtini in a single layer. Let the sage crackle for a minute, then remove and discard, and carefully set the involtini to cooking. Cover, gently sauté for 10 minutes, then turn after five, using two spatulas, and be careful that they don't unwind.

Add the remaining plum tomatoes, adjust seasoning, cover and simmer 10 minutes more.

I served mine as a nice main course, served over rice, and loved having the leftovers for lunch last week — I bet you will too!
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