Too often veggie leaves end up in the waste bin. “Waste” is the right word for it, because there is actually so much you can do with those veggie leaves, and it’ll add some serious depth to your cooking repertoire.
What magic can you weave to impress with veggie leaves? Here are some tips for what you could do with the leaves you’ll find in your Good & Fugly boxes!
Kale: The Superfood That Keeps On Giving
Admittedly, kale leaves can be a bit tough when eaten raw. The good news is that there are some simple tricks that you can do to make it so much more manageable. Giving kale leaves a massage with a drizzle of oil and a splash of lemon juice helps break down the cell walls, making it less fibrous and much more enjoyable to eat. You should also remove the stems, which can be too hard and bitter for most taste buds.
But kale’s the obvious one. There are some other leaves that are far less obvious but with a bit of creativity, you’re going to find some fantastic ways to make the most of them.
Beetroot Greens: Nature’s confetti!
It’s not just that beetroot leaves are spectacularly good for you. They are, but they’re also such a bright and colourful thing. You can think of them like nature's confetti – a vibrant feast for the eyes. Beyond the look, these leaves are packed with nutrients, including polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) and vitamins A and C, which are excellent for boosting your immunity.
Basically, don't toss them away! Use them in these creative ways instead:
- Swap out your regular salad greens for beetroot leaves. Their peppery flavour and striking colours will elevate any salad to a work of art.
- Sauté beetroot greens with garlic and olive oil for a quick and nutritious side dish. The bitterness of the greens pairs wonderfully with the richness of the olive oil, and is certainly a more wholesome and deep flavour to accompany any meal than, say, chips.
- Add a handful of beetroot leaves to your morning smoothie for an extra dose of vitamins and a lovely pink hue. You won’t even taste them in this case. It’s a pure nutrition boost, no cost!
Swiss Chard: Even more colour, even more goodness
With vivid stems and lush green leaves, Swiss Chard is not only visually appealing but also incredibly nutritious. Swiss chard is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire:
- Use Swiss chard leaves as a healthier alternative to cabbage for making stuffed rolls. Fill them with a mixture of rice, veggies, and your choice of protein, and bake to perfection.
- Chop up the stems and leaves of Swiss chard and stir-fry them with your choice of Asian sauce. The result? A trip for the tastebuds to go with the hit of sheer nutrition.
- You can also take advantage of the colour of the leaves to create eye-catching wraps by using Swiss chard leaves as a substitute for tortillas. You can fill them with anything, really, including hummus, roasted vegetables, and grilled chicken. It’ll taste great, and be a carb-free way of eating.
Turnip Greens: No, really!
Turnip greens often end up in the compost pile, but these greens are such a fantastic source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as calcium and folate, that you should really explore what you can do with them instead. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Try swapping out basil for turnip greens in your pesto recipe. The peppery bite of the greens adds a unique twist to this classic sauce. You’ll have people asking where you got the recipe from, but there’s nothing special about it. You’ve just found an even better leaf!
- Another good idea is to throw turnip greens into your favourite soup or stew. That will give you an extra dose of flavour and nutrition, but the leaves will work seamlessly with the other ingredients to add to the overall depth of flavour.
- Did you know that turnip greens can be transformed into a crispy alternative to chips? Toss them with olive oil, salt, and your favourite seasonings, then bake until they're crunchy perfection. It’s a way to snack that you won’t look back from.
These are just three examples, but vegetable leaves are like the hidden gems of the culinary world, often overlooked but brimming with potential. Once you get going, you’ll find endless opportunities to get creative with your leafy greens.
Obviously, do some research before you try something completely new – there is more than one cautionary tale out there of someone who accidentally threw a rhubarb leaf into the pot (highly poisonous, don’t do that), but otherwise, get out there and explore! The next time you're in the kitchen with a new box of Good & Fugly treats, don't toss the leaves. See what you can do to add yet more texture and flavour to your favourite dishes – and do let us know how you get along with that!