Global Dark Leafy Greens

Ah, the great divide. On on side, greens. On the other side, you. The chasm seems as wide as the Grand Canyon. It’s a gulf desperately in need of a bridge, especially for dark leafy greens—kale, chard, collards—which are arguably the greatest longevity foods out there, exploding with disease-fighting phytochemicals. And yet, these jade nutritional behemoths can be incredibly intimidating to work with. Where to start? I suggest thinking of greens as the perfect foundation for a variety of flavorprints. The only way you’re going to eat greens regularly is if they fly you around the world. Good thing they have their pilot’s license! By working with different spices and herbs, greens become like a local tourist guide to a host of cuisines. These dishes reach across the globe: Latin America, the Mediterranean, India, and the Orient . . . they are as versatile as a Renaissance man at a cocktail party. Learn to work with them and I promise that great divide will exist no more.

Latin Style Kale

With Latin American greens, it’s all in the seeds. In this case, toasted cumin and pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas) along with a hit of lime juice give this kale a breezy, fresh Latin feel.

Serves 4

8 cups, stemmed and chopped dino kale in bite size pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ cups or one medium red onion, cut into half moons
Sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, (toasted) 
Pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grade B organic maple syrup
2 tablespoon toasted pepitas (garnish) 

Cover the kale with cold water and set aside.  

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, a pinch of salt and sauté for 3 minutes.  Decrease the heat to low and cook slowly until the onions are caramelized.   

While the onions are caramelizing toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat, shaking a few times for even toasting until they become aromatic and start to brown slightly.  Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.  In the same pan, add the peptias, shaking the pan for even toasting, until they become aromatic.  Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.  

Increase the heat to medium; add the garlic, cumin, pinch of cayenne and pinch of salt and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain the kale and add it to the pan. Sauté until the greens turn bright green and wilt, about 4 minutes.  While the greens are cooking whisk together the lemon, orange juice, zests and maple syrup together.  Test the greens and continue cooking, covered until they become a little more tender.  Drizzle with the citrus maple mixture.  Top with the toasted pepitas. 

Sweet and Sour Sesame Asian Cabbage and Kale

Here’s a classic sweet-and-sour taste with a mouth-watering, eye-catching twist. Tamari, ginger, and toasted sesame oil combine with lime juice to bring the Great Wall to your great room. And cabbage? That’s another super food that’s a must-have on the plate.

Serves 4

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups kale, washed, stems removed and cut into bite size pieces
Sea Salt
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted

In a small bowl combine the ginger, tamari, lime juice, maple syrup and toasted sesame oil and set aside.

Place a small skillet over a low flame and toast the sesame seeds until they turn slightly brown and smell nutty, about 1 minute. Remove to a plate.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium –high heat, then add the kale, and a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, and another pinch of salt, sauté for 1 more minute. Add the sauce and cook for 2 more minutes or until tender. Add the toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Indian Greens 

This meal in bowl is filled with fiber and protein from chickpeas and packs flavor that simply has to be experienced to be believed. Coconut milk, curry, turmeric…it’s all a tastebud blast with outrageous anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
8 cups of Swiss chard, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
Sea Salt
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and spritzed with lemon juice and a pinch of salt
1 cup organic diced canned tomatoes, reserve the juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup

Cover the chard with cold water and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium –high heat, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and sauté until they begin to pop, then add the ginger. Add the Swiss chard, a pinch of salt, turmeric, pepper, ginger, curry powder and 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the garbanzo beans and the tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes more. Add the coconut milk and maple syrup. Serve immediately.

Cook Notes: If you don’t have cumin, mustard seeds or turmeric handy, saute the chard with the ginger and add 2 teaspoons of curry powder.

Mediterranean Greens

This is like a taking a two-week cruise around the isles: we go Greek with olives and feta, Sicilian with—surprise—currants, and we’ll give the Cypriots credit for the garlic and the mint. Plus a double dose of citrus in the form of lemon and orange zest.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
6 cups, stemmed and chopped dino kale in bite size pieces
Sea salt
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1 tablespoons currants
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 of a teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grade B organic maple syrup
1/4 cup goat or sheep’s milk feta cheese
2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint (garnish)

Cover the kale with cold water and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon and orange juice, zests, nutmeg and maple syrup, then add the currents and allow them to soak. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat, add the garlic and chili pepper flakes, sauté until the garlic turns lightly golden, about 20 seconds. Drain the kale and add it to the pan along with a scant quarter teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of water. Sauté until the greens turn bright green and wilt, about 4 minutes. Add the soaked currents, along with their soaking liquid and the olives, and sauté until the greens become a little more tender. Turn off the heat, sprinkle in the feta cheese and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.

Photo Credit: Leo Gong

Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.