Arugula, spinach and kale, oh my! Here’s a primer on some new salad greens and old favorites.
Arugula: Arugula, an aromatic, leafy green sometimes called rocket, is a member of the same botanical family as watercress, cabbage and broccoli. It’s low in calories (a cup contains a mere 5 calories), rich in lutein and vitamin A. Arugula’s flavor is often likened to peppery mustard, making it a bit stronger than most lettuces, so it’s best to mix it with other greens. Its stronger flavor pairs well with vinaigrettes. It can also be wilted like spinach and served as a healthy side dish.
Related recipe: Arugula and Pear Salad With Pine-Nut-Crusted Goat Cheese
Spinach: Fresh spinach is a great way to get started with greens. When choosing spinach, pick dark leaves without too much of a stem. A pound of spinach should be enough for two servings. Fresh spinach is a rich source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and potassium. Serve it in a salad with strawberries and nuts or use it in casseroles, quiches and soups.
Related recipe: Mediterranean Spinach Quiche
Kale: With its frilly leaves and rich colors, kale is a gorgeous plant. Although officially a “dark leafy green,” it also comes in vibrant purples and dramatic winter whites. And kale’s beauty runs deep; it is packed with powerful phytonutrients, minerals and fiber. Kale’s complex flavor wins it fans at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It boasts deep, earthy flavors that can range from rich and meaty to slightly bitter. It tastes supremely healthy – in a good way. Kale belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and collards. It is an offshoot of wild cabbage, which originated in Asia Minor. The ancient Greeks and Romans grew kale in their gardens, and Europeans brought kale to the Americas in the 1600s. During WWII, it was a recommended plant for Victory Gardens because it provided so many nutrients. Kale contains beta-carotene and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (associated with eye health) as well as potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, iron and calcium. Plus, it has two grams of protein per serving.
Related recipe: Kale and Keilbasa Soup