Facts for FACS Teachers
Leaf Through These Greens
Ruth Mossok Johnston, Family and Consumer Sciences Editorial
Salad was a lot simpler when iceberg was
the mainstay. Teachers are now educating their students about
nutrient-laden greens and there is plenty to choose from.
Along with trendy greens like perilla,
mâche, purslane, mizuna, and frisée (to name
a few), deep green leafy vegetables considered part of the
cruciferous family can be found in our salads and cooked,
or served, with our main dishes. Cruciferous vegetables, commonly
known as the cabbage family, are known to stimulate specific
enzymes and block carcinogens. In addition to their healthy
properties, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts,
cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, collards, kale,
mustards, and turnip greens, are truly delicious!
Introduce students to the colorful side
of salads. Have them add some lollo rossa, an Italian looseleaf
lettuce, or some red radicchio (a red chicory). Encourage
students to add cooked greens to their menus. Those can be
boiled, sautéed, or grilled.
Invite your students to leaf through these fashionable greens
and come up with some interesting and nutritious side dishes
or menu plans!
Arugula (rocket, roquette and rucola) - Considered
an herbal green, this ancient Mediterranean native is a member
of the mustard family. The characteristic nutty-peppery taste
becomes quite muted when cooked. Delicious in fresh salads
when young and tender, rocket becomes stronger and almost
mustardy when picked as a more mature leaf. The white-purple
veined flowers of arugula are edible and make a lovely garnish
to a big beautiful fresh green salad.
Cilantro (Chinese Parsley)
– They are the leaves of the coriander plant. A pungent
herb resembling parsley, commonly used in Mexican and Asian
cuisine. Terrific in fresh green salads, salsas, soups, and
Collards - This sturdy
leafy green, like many other pot herbs, can be eaten raw when
they are picked young and tender. If purchasing in a store,
they are usually beyond use in the raw stage and need to be
cooked. This deep green kale look-alike (without the crinkle)
a member of the cabbage family and is delicious in soups,
stews, or boiled and seasoned - not just for southerners!
Dandelion - Considered
an herbal green, when young, this deep-green, thin-sculptured
leaf is delicate and delicious in salads. Older leaves must
be blanched or cooked to reduce their bitterness. Like collard
greens, they are great in soups, stews, or boiled and seasoned.
Frisée - Part of
the chicory family, these light-green leaves, frilly in appearance
are the least bitter relative. Delicious tossed among a mixture
of field greens, make it a part of your mesclun salad.
Mâche (Corn salad)
- Found easily in northern Europe, France, and England this
delicious salad delicacy is usually found in culinary gardeners’
gardens. Keep looking in the stores, the trends may make it
so! A mild, nutty-flavored herbal green that remains delicate
no matter when it is picked, mâche is perfect for salads.
Mesclun - A French term
for a mixture, in this case, salad greens, it is not a specific
lettuce or salad herb, but it is a combination of greens,
sometimes mild, sometimes piquant. Make your own combinations
by mixing all types of baby greens and lettuces. Add some
of the chicories to give it that zesty edge.
Mustard - This bright green, slightly fuzzy
- pungent green is another in the cabbage family, a pot herb
that finds its way into many a Southern garden! Only very
young hand-picked tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads.
Mustard greens are generally boiled and seasoned, or added
to soups and stews eliminating some of their strong bitter
Perilla - This popular
Asian pot herb is a member of the mint family and is often
used in sushi. Tender, young leaves are uniquely flavored
and add a perfume-type flavor to a fresh green salad. Perilla
can be found in some Asian markets or home grown in a variety
of strains - green, purple, or cumin-scented.
Purslane - A choice salad
ingredient all over western Europe, it has come to
America. This oval, delicately-flavored leaf is a tart, lemony-flavor
addition to salads, rated high in Omega-3 fatty acids and
rich in vitamin E.
Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
- Deep green and leafy, this bitterly delicious member of
the cabbage family is a prominent ingredient in Italian cuisine,
usually blanched, then sautéed with garlic in olive
Radicchio – This
red chicory is a relative to endive. It is a red-purple-hued-peppery
flavored salad green adds flavor and color to any salad and
also tastes great grilled in halves and splashed with balsamic
Sorrel - This hardy salad
herb has a sharp flavor and tastes delicious in salads (pick
young leaves). Cook it like spinach and make it into a “green,”
or use it as a tasty zip in omelets and soups.
Mizuna - (Japanese mustard)
- On the lighter side of the mustards, this leafy green will
give your salad a nice, light zip. When using it for salads,
make sure it is young. Like all mustards, when mature, they
are best served cooked or steamed.