Wild About Greens

One of my favorite things to buy every week is organic kale and mustard greens, but other than my standby recipe for kale chips or using it in soups, I wasn’t really sure how to show it off to its best advantage. Enter Nava Atlas’s “Wild About Greens,” which will give you 125 vegan recipes for kale, collards, mustard greens, and more.

The journey begins with a brief guide to preparation and an illustrated who’s who of greens, from common varieties (spinach, kale, chard), to those I’d looked at but didn’t know how to prepare (including Asian greens such as tatsoi and mizuna, beet greens, dandelion greens, turnip and radish greens). Thanks to Nava, I learned that you can freeze greens by blanching them and putting them into freezer bags (before, I had the bad habit of leaving them in the fridge until the end of the week when they were past their prime).

Chapter 1 appropriately starts with basic preparations, including sautés, braising, and stir-fries. I particularly enjoyed the Mediterranean greens with pine nuts and raisins and the chard with raisins and pecans from this chapter. Subsequent chapters focus on heartier combinations of greens and grains and/or beans, including pasta with two beans and escarole, rosemary potatoes and collard greens with vegan sausage, and ragout of broccoli rabe with white beans and porcini mushrooms.

I was first introduced to massaged kale salads in Nava’s Vegan Holiday Kitchen: More than 200 Delicious, Festive Recipes for Special Occasions so I was happy to see a wider variety here, including kale salad with fresh fruit and radicchio and Asian-flavored kale and napa cabbage salad. You’ll find a large variety of soups utilizing greens, including the wonderful Italian-style potato and escarole soup (I added sun-dried tomatoes that I had on hand, and it really added an extra layer of texture and flavor). Finally, the recipes are rounded out by a juicing primer and such unusual flavors as beets and greens juice with apples and ginger, sparkling spinach juice, and several greens-based smoothies: spinach and mango smoothie, nutty chocolate-banana and spinach smoothie, and kale and pear smoothie.

One small note: the text color on some of the sections is very light and there is little contrast against the background, making these recipes difficult to read from a distance. Also, there are relatively few photos if you’re one of those who likes to see photos for each recipe. And finally, no nutritional info is given, which would have been appreciated.

Verdict: “Wild About Greens” is a great way to make the most of bountiful seasonal/regional greens and is sure to expand your recipe repertoire. There’s enough variety that you can easily cook through several weeks of recipes without a repeat, and you’ll find various international influences (Italian, Asian, Mexican) to boot. This is a great primer for CSA members or anyone looking to eat more healthfully.

(Thanks to Nava Atlas for the review copy!)

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