Finding Non-Cruciferous Greens
- ninrn Apr 22, 2014 01:16 PM
I eat a lot of greens, a lot of them raw, and notice that besides spinach and lettuce, virtually every leafy green at the grocery store is a cruciferous vegetable: cabbage, kale, collards, bok choy, rapini, mustard, kohlrabi, turnip greens, cress, mizuna, tatsoi, even fenugreek and most of the other greens they sell at the Indian store are in the cruciferous family.
I'd like to start eating more non-cruciferous greens, even if it means growing some on my own, and wondered if any of you could contribute to the list I have so far:
◙ Dandelion greens
◙ Amaranth (I think what is often sold as "red spinach" in Chinese and Indian markets might be a red variety of amaranth)
◙ Gongura or Rosselle greens
I'm sure there are non-cruciferous greens I've never heard of eaten in other cultures, and I'd love to know more about them: what they taste like, how they're traditionally prepared, and how they are cultivated.
And if you have any great recipes for lovage, I'd very much appreciate them. (There's a vendor who often has a bunch or two at our farmer's market, but her only suggestion was to add it to salad.)
Thanks for your help,
PS: Is chard a cruciferous vegetable? I had thought not, but I see it listed as such on many websites.
Beets and their cousin Chard are not in the Brassica (cruciferous) family. They are in the Amaranthaceae (Amaranth) family.
Nor are parsley or celery (lovage's milder cousin - lovage is *very* strong: a little goes a long way (I grow it myself)).
Sorrel - a slightly lemony fizzy taste. You usually cannot find it in larger quantities; I like to add it to salads for that bit of something different.
Do they have to be leafy?
Chinese water spinach
Thanks for the responses. I know there are a lot of culinary herbs and non-leafy vegetables that aren't cruciferous, so right now I'm just looking for suggestions of leafy greens, not necessarily just ones that I can eat raw, and things I can eat in a large vegetable portion. Couldn't really do that with most herbs.
I put beet greens, chard, and radicchio on the list, and love the idea of sorrel, Chinese water spinach, and pea sprouts. I used to eat a lot of sunflower sprouts but had forgotten about them. So all those go on as well.
I read somewhere once that people from Crete eat a lot of wild foraged greens. Does anyone happen to know the names of any of those? Or Native American greens?
Thanks again, ninrn
This might help identify the various wild and cultivated greens on Crete:
When I visited Crete, I was rarely informed as to which green I was ordering. Most menus merely listed plates of "horta" or pies containing "horta". It was explained to me that whatever was in season would be that day's horta.
On a different note, I am a fan of watercress, purslane, chrysanthemum leaves and mustard greens, water spinach, snow pea shoots/leaves, radish greens, carrot greens, amaranth leaves, Chinese chives, garlic chives and pretty much every Asian green available to me.
Miners' Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a wild green native to the West Coast of North America: it's been taking over the yard every spring. Orach is another edible plant in the same family as Amaranth: when I can find it at the farmers' market I treat it like spinach.
Fenugreek is a legume, BTW, so you can put the leaves back on the list!
In fact, all three go great together, diced and tossed with a bit of EVOO, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, white pepper and a touch of horseradish.
Ipomea aquatica (water spinach, water morning glory, hollow stem spinach, etc.)
Can be eaten cooked (steamed, sauteed with garlic) or raw as a salad dressed with a dressing of vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, thinly sliced onion. A knife like this will cut the stems lengthwise into long curly slivers.
I think chayote squash leaves would count - they're the leaf of a type of melon. They're one of my favourites; the leaves stay fairly firm after cooking rather than shrinking down, and the flavour is nice.
The thing about the cruciferous vegetables you listed is that they are Winter hardy and therefore readily found in markets. I believe the following leafy vegetables meet your criteria:
Chicory (curly endive)
Fiddle head ferns
Unless you don't like their flavor(s), may I ask WHY you want to avoid the cruciferous vegetables? They are very healthy. For some people they may be a flatulence problem but there's Beano for that, and the more regularly we eat beans and other such foods, the better (and less fragrantly) we process them. Patients on anticoagulants may be dismayed when their primary care professional advises them to limit intake of dark greens, but your anti-coag manager (usually a nurse) can help you work with them. Mine explained that the issue is not THAT you eat dark greens, but how consistently. They'll thicken your blood, but your coumadin dose can be adjusted to compensate for that. The more your weekly diet changes, the more you risk not hitting your target INR.
I cook a lot and have a large repertoire. Between that and buying produce in season, my dosage needs frequent monitoring. But I've gotten pretty good at balancing things out. If the stalks of Brussels sprouts are in at Trader Joe's, I'll have a glass of wine, or cherry or grape juice, on days when I gorge on the sprouts. The anti-coag nurses stress that they aren't going to tell their patients WHAT to eat and drink, but patients DO need to be forthcoming about what changes in their food choices.
Sweet potato leaves
Do you make taboulé? If you don't eat any gluten, you could substitute quinoa for bulghur. Real taboulé has more parsley or other greens than grain or pseudograin.
Is there a reason that you are leaving various types of lettuce off of your list?
romaine (green or red)
oak leaf lettuce - red or green
red or green leaf lettuce (loose leaf lettuce)
red or green tango
butter, bibb or boston lettuce
red or green batavia (leaf)
apollo lettuce/crisp lettuce
curly endive or frisee
mache/lambs lettuce/corn salad
orache/saltbush (some varieties were eaten by Native Americans)
Meatn3's mention of cardoon jogged my memory and it occurred to me that broccoli and cauliflower leaves are edible and delicious especially the younger leaves. Also, daikon leaves are very nice in a stir-fry along with the leaves of other radishes, and other root vegetables as already mentioned..
OH Gosh! I know that, LOL. The funny thing is, we spent most of this past Winter cooking from a cookbook that was focused on recipes from the root cellar, and now that Spring is here I haven't even looked at many cruciferous vegetables so I'm more or less thinking along the same theme as you are. I'll really be very happy when our local Farmers' Market returns in mid-May.