Cookbook Review: ‘Wild About Greens’ Makes Healthy Cooking Easy and Tasty
I got my hands on this cookbook about a month ago, and now can’t seem to stop eating leafy greens! If you’re looking for new ways to work more of these powerhouse veggies into your diet, Wild About Greens makes it easy. Better yet, it makes it extremely delicious!
Wild About Greeens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves
In Wild About Greens, author and chef Nava Atlas takes greens far beyond simple steaming. Atlas devotes ample time to covering the basics, such as obtaining, washing, and preparing all kinds of greens for cooking, and what to expect from each type — this introductory section is especially helpful if you haven’t cooked much with different kinds of greens. Don’t know what to do with tatsoi? Mizuna? Watercress? Choy sum? Broccoli rabe? NOOO problem: it’s all covered!
But the book really shines in terms of recipe variety and versatility. Not only is every leafy green under the sun included for exploration; but these recipes are exceptional for the creativity and diversity with which Atlas approaches her subject.
Various chapters feature greens with beans, grains, pasta, and other veggies; salads, dressings, and dips; greens in soups and stews; and green juices and smoothies. Most recipes include ideas for variations, effectively turning one menu idea into several.
Directions are consistently clear and easy to follow. Many basic recipes are very simple, using just a few easy-to-find ingredients. Simple Garlicky Greens, for example, start with just greens, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. BUT! Additional directions follow, for ‘sweet additions’ like cranberries or appricots; ‘nutty additions’ like toasted pine nuts or almonds; ‘savory additions’ like kalamata olives or sun-dried tomatoes… the possible incarnations of this simple-but-scrumptious dish are virtually endless!
Some recipes show off more complexity, like Curried Sweet Potatoes with Chard and Chickpeas. The sweet potatoes, chard, and chickpeas combine with fire-roasted tomatoes, scallions, fresh ginger, curry, cumin, cilantro, and raisins to make a thick, delicious, hearty stew. This one’s definitely suitable for company!
Throughout the book you’ll find extra tips and ideas for getting the most from your greens – like ideas for ‘greening up your carbs,’ or how to massage kale.
O MY GOODNESS: MASSAGED KALE!
My friends and fellow kale enthusiasts, this technique is world-changing! I thought I was a fairly proficient vegan cook, but somehow I had never been told about massaged kale.
Right up until page 144 of this lovely cookbook, I actually thought I didn’t like raw kale. Ah, such foolish naiveté!
Apparently if you sprinkle raw chopped kale with salt or lemon juice, drizzle it with olive oil (or coat your palms with oil), and rub the kale between your palms for about a minute, it transforms into the perfect raw salad green. Who knew?! (If YOU did, and didn’t tell me… well, I forgive you, but barely!)
Possibly my favorite recipe so far from Wild About Greens – and one that will definitely be added to my next Thanksgiving feast – is the simple but divine Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts. Massaged kale, dried cranberries and cherries, toasted pecans, olive oil, lemon juice, agave nectar, salt and pepper: you won’t believe how indulgent raw kale can be!
So far, my other favorite recipes from this cookbook include:
- Avocado Tahini dressing
- Spicy Collard Greens with Black-eyed Peas
- Burgundy Berry Bliss Smoothie
- Miso Chinese Vegetable Soup with Corn and Leafy Greens
- Beets and Greens Juice with Apple and Ginger
- Stir-Fried Sesame Kale and Red Cabbage
In Conclusion: Thumbs Up!
I haven’t made every recipe, but I’ve liked everything I’ve made. Leafy greens are rich in calcium, iron, antioxidants, and other delightfully healthy things nutritionists encourage us to eat more frequently; with this cookbook, that’s fantastically easy to do! The only down side, as I see it, is severe risk of kale addiction.
(Shrug: I’m ok with it!)
If you’re looking for recipes to take you beyond the plain-old same-old basics with leafy greens – or if you’re just looking for easy ways to bring healthy, delicious food to your table – Wild About Greens is definitely worth adding to your shelf!
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Connoisseur 4 The Cure.