The Link, Spring 2017
| by Louise Racine |
As we emerge from our wintry cocoon the sight of green all around us is more than welcome. The main reason we want to include more greens in our diet is simply that they are such an abundant source of nutrients. They also make a refreshing change from the root vegetables that become the focus of our diets during the colder months.
Usually when we think of greens we think of salads which are great, since including raw foods in our diet is a good idea. However, greens can also be considered a side dish and can complement any meal. If you tend to rely on certain common green vegetables like lettuce and spinach why not make a commitment to try some new ones this spring? And why not branch out from salads to include greens more often in the main course?
“…why not branch out from salads to include greens more often in the main course?”
Hardy leafy greens that lend themselves to light cooking include chard, spinach, kale, rapini, collard greens, dandelion, arugula and bok choy. Most varieties contain substantial amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and beta carotene. With their high iron content greens are especially beneficial for anemics and women during menstruation. As with most vegetables they are also high in dietary fibre (1 cup cooked = 4-5 grams), an important nutrient lacking from many diets.
Green leafy vegetables grow close to sandy soil which tends to cling to the leaves. Nothing ruins a good dish like a mouthful of sand, so do wash leaves very carefully. Immerse them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes before rinsing to help loosen hidden grit. Unless you’re using the greens for a salad, thorough drying with a salad spinner or clean tea towel is not necessary.
To make greens and other vegetables more appetizing and even more nutritious, you may wish to enhance your dish with a sauce or dressing. This issue’s recipe includes a miso dressing, which not only adds lovely colour to the dish but is also very tasty while adding extra nutrients including antioxidants, protein and zinc.
A traditional Japanese seasoning, miso is produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans. While there are several varieties available, white or yellow miso is the most versatile. White miso (which is actually light yellow in colour) is made with fermented soybeans and rice. It’s fermented for a short period of time which makes it more mild and sweet in taste. Since it’s the mildest kind of miso, it’s also the most versatile.
Another mild type of miso that’s fermented slightly longer than white is yellow miso, which is often made with fermented soybeans and barley. Yellow miso ranges from light yellow to light brown in colour and is adaptable to most cooking applications from soups to glazes.
As with any soy product, choose miso made from organic soybeans. Organic miso paste can be found in health food stores or the health food section of most grocery stores. It should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and will keep for about nine months.
This recipe from the latest Thirteen Moons cookbook is a great way to serve up all those greens that will be growing in gardens in the coming months. The miso dressing can be used on grains, fish, or other cooked vegetables.