The Greens Part II: Beet Greens, Collard Greens, Broccoli Rabe, Arugula

Beet Greens

Beet Greens 1Beet greens are in the same family as Swiss chard, and their edible leaves are somewhat similar in taste with their veining reflecting the color of the beet root. Beet greens are one of the ten highest ranked foods by the Healthiest Foods on Earth website (with 3.5 million annual viewers, it’s a great resource for nutrition).  Beet greens rank high in all nutrient categories: micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

These greens also provide excellent amounts of calcium and magnesium, which is important since more U.S. adults are deficient in magnesium than calcium. Beet greens are an excellent source of fiber and a very good source of protein. They are an excellent source for Vitamin A because of high levels of beta-carotene and lutein.Beet Greens 2

I like to buy beet greens attached to the roots (the beets) because they are a better value if you eat both parts. The leaves are usually more tender if the beets are smaller rather than huge.  Get the greens that look crisp and not wilted. Cut the greens from the beet roots at the stem where the leafy portion ends. They can be cooked into any recipe where you would use spinach: a stir-fry, a lentil dish, or sautéed with other greens, vegetables, or eggs.

Collard Greens

Greens_CollardCollard greens are descents of wild cabbage.  They have been eaten since ancient times and were cultivated by the Romans. Collard lowers cholesterol better than most other cruciferous vegetables by binding with bile acids in the digestive tract.  Cooked collards work better than raw providing nutritious benefits.

Collard ranks high as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and for cancer preventative properties. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli RabeBroccoli Rabe (also Raab) is a leafy brassicas which is part of the mustard family, like kale, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and arugula. Although the buds on this plant look like broccoli, they don’t form into large heads and it is quite distinguishable in appearance and taste.  While the broccoli leaves are almost nonexistent, it is the leaves on rabe that compromise most of this versatile pungent and highly nutritious vegetable (the stems and florets are also edible). Making regular appearances in upscale raviolis, and chopped finely in our new PCC favorite chicken sausage (labeled as chicken-rapini), broccoli rabe’s bitter taste and textured leaves hold up to sauces and sautés very nicely. It is common in dishes from Southern Italy, Portugal, and in the Galicia region of Spain. Laura Russell pairs a lovely Romesco sauce with hers.

If you want to reduce some of the bitterness (I never do!) blanch the  rabe for a few minutes and let drain, but don’t cook very long and make sure the water is removed. I plate it sautéed under savory meats with roasted or caramelized vegetables.  Or maybe your go-to fish recipe needs a refreshing companion.  For a vegetarian dish, add sautéed, chopped Rabe or lacinato kale to cooked white beans and garlic, with lightly sautéed sweet red peppers and a splash of vinegar.

Another 5-star food for optimum health according to NutritionData website, Broccoli Rabe has zero glycemic load with one gram of carb and no sugars in a one cup serving, It is a very good source of Vitamins K, A, C, and Folate and it has five times as many omega 3 fatty acids as it does Omega 6s.


Greens_ArugulaArugula, also known as rocket, is a peppery-tasting green native to the Mediterranean  where is grows wild from Portugal’s shores to inland Turkey. Its refreshing bite and delicate leaves make it a culinary favorite. An excellent source of Vitamins K, A, C and folic acid, arugula also contains essential minerals including, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, copper and magnesium.

This  green may be grown as an annual or a perennial. Give it a try in a tub on your porch–only 30-40 days growing time when planted in the spring or fall (a cool season crop).  Wild arugula, pictured here and sold by the bunch, can take some stove or oven heat with the coarse outside leaves holding up to a braise.  For salads, I choose the smaller leaf arugula that is bright green, sold in a tub. Go Girl Organic is my brand in Seattle.  In a plastic clamshell, these serrated delicate leaves will last for over a week. Once they yellow, they are ready for the compost bin.  But save that tub– it makes a great organizer that keeps bits of vegetables fresh for a week!!


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