Delicious Greens

Weaver recommends rotating the types of greens you eat to balance the nutrients they provide.

Masala Omelet (photo credit: SHERRY HECK)
Masala Omelet
(photo credit: SHERRY HECK)
‘I did not grow up eating greens,” wrote Stephanie Weaver, the author of The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health. “I had to learn how to cook them, and truthfully, it took a while for me to develop a taste for them as an adult. They’re incredibly nutritious, so I now try to make some once a day.” She recommends rotating the types of greens you eat to balance the nutrients they provide.
Weaver certainly did learn to cook greens well. The dish she demonstrated at her book presentation, spicy kale and Swiss chard sauté studded with almonds and seeds, was outstanding. She sautéed the greens in coconut oil, and then covered them so they wilted, and she used all parts of the greens, including the stems. (See recipe.)
Weaver’s eating plan includes gluten- free and sugar-free recommendations and is low in sodium. She emphasizes sustainably produced protein and healthy saturated fat, and advises shifting away from processed foods to a lower-carbohydrate diet made of whole foods.
In another dish we enjoyed, Weaver used greens in a warm roasted vegetable salad with potatoes and mushrooms and a savory tomato-shallot dressing. She makes the salad either vegan or with strips of broiled steak added. (See recipe.)
Using greens in hearty salads is a strategy favored also by Deepa Thomas, author of Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine. Her kala chola salad is made of spinach, parsley, black beans and fruit dressed with cumin jalapeño vinaigrette and garnished with crunchy spiced roasted nuts. (See recipe.)
In another dish of greens with beans, Thomas uses garlic-flavored spinach to enhance a dish of chickpeas cooked with ginger, turmeric and other spices. She sometimes sautés the spinach until it wilts, and sometimes leaves it raw. As a finishing touch, she adds herbs in the form of gremolata, an Italian classic that Thomas makes with an Indian twist – she adds jalapeño and cumin and uses cilantro and mint instead of parsley. (See recipe.)
Herbs are rich in nutrients and Thomas enjoys using them in generous amounts as if they were leafy greens. Her savory masala omelet has two cups of parsley for two portions, along with shallots, garlic and hot pepper. (See recipe.)
At her book party, Thomas told us that for her slow-carb cooking she emphasizes low-glycemic foods.
“I have made Indian food simple and healthy for you,” she wrote, “without sacrificing an ounce of flavor – just the rice and bread.”
Faye Levy is the author of the award-winning book, Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.
“This recipe is a wonderful introduction to greens,” wrote Weaver, “as it combines two types of flavorful oils to complement the greens, while the seeds provide textural crunch and extra protein. Cooked greens combined with a healthy fat make the nutrients more bio-available, too.” If you prefer, use all kale or all chard in this recipe.
Serves 4
1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
1 bunch (500 gr.) Swiss chard, stems removed, thinly sliced, and reserved, and leaves thinly sliced
1 bunch (500 gr.) kale, stems and leaves thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. hot pepper sesame oil (or plain sesame oil) (optional)
1 Tbsp. dark toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. raw sesame seeds
In a large skillet or sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the green onions, garlic and jalapeno and sauté for five minutes or until golden.
Add the chard stems and cook for another three to four minutes. Add the rest of the chard and the kale. Cover the pan to help the greens wilt and continue cooking about five minutes. Once they have wilted a bit, add the hot and the dark toasted sesame oils, stirring to coat.
Add the sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and continue to sauté, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Cook’s notes from Weaver:
a) After washing greens, I roll them up in a clean kitchen towel to absorb moisture. For the Swiss chard, stack the leaves, then cut off the stems using a deep V cut. Thinly slice the stems and set them aside separately. Thinly slice the green leaves.
b) Wear gloves while handling the jalepeño.
The recipes in Weaver’s book, like this one, are low in sodium because sodium could trigger headaches. To make this salad for meat lovers, include the steak; omit it for a vegan salad.
Serves 2
225 gr. (8 oz.) lean pastured or grassfed sirloin steak (Sinta in Hebrew, meat cut #11) (optional)
1 clove garlic (optional)
½ to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ to 1 tsp. smoked paprika, divided
¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided (optional)
6 large mushrooms, cleaned and halved
3 small carrots, cut on the diagonal
1 summer squash or zucchini, cut in large chunks
8 fingerling or baby new potatoes
1 sweet red or yellow pepper, cored and cut in chunks
2 Tbsp. plus ¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, finely minced
300 gr. cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. filtered water
1 tsp. dried mustard powder
1 sprig fresh tarragon or savory or ¼ tsp. dried tarragon
70 to 85 gr. baby spinach or baby arugula
Preheat oven to 230º. Line large baking pan with parchment paper.
Pound steak with a mallet or rolling pin to an even thickness. Halve the garlic clove and rub cut side over each side of steak. Season both sides with ½ teaspoon of the pepper, ½ teaspoon of the smoked paprika and half the salt. Discard garlic. Rub seasoning into meat, then wash your hands. Set meat aside for 30 minutes while you roast the veggies.
Combine mushrooms, carrots, squash, potatoes, sweet pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep bowl and toss. Season with remaining black pepper, remaining smoked paprika and remaining salt, to coat them evenly. Transfer mixture to baking pan and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are golden and potatoes are fork-tender.
Make dressing: Soak minced shallot in ice water for 10 minutes; drain. Chop six of the cherry tomatoes. In a large jar combine 1 teaspoon of the shallot with the vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, the water, dry mustard, tarragon and the 6 chopped cherry tomatoes. Using a stick blender, blend until very smooth.
When vegetables are done, remove from oven. Heat broiler. Broil steak about 10 cm. from heating element for five to six minutes per side, turning once with tongs; steak should reach 60º on an instant-read thermometer for medium- rare or 68º for medium. Remove steak and let rest for five to 10 minutes before cutting. Trim off any fat. Cut steak crosswise into 6 mm. thick slices.
Divide greens evenly between two plates. Slice remaining cherry tomatoes and divide between plates along with one to two large spoonfuls of roasted vegetables and half the steak slices. Dress lightly and serve.
Instead of making gremolata the Italian way, “I’ve ditched the parsley and turned up the heat,” wrote Thomas. She considers this gremolata her goto topping for all sorts of dishes, from sautéed eggplant to cooked beans, and recommends tripling the quantities and keeping the extra in the fridge (for up to three days).
“Sprinkle it over almost any dish and every mouthful will pop with its bright, fresh flavors... A drizzle (about a tablespoon) of almond oil or olive oil on top of your dish dressed with the gremolata before serving is a good idea.”
Makes one cup
¾ cup cilantro leaves, stemmed and finely chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, stemmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeño pepper
½ tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients together. Use to top soups, grains, veggies or meats. If making ahead, refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.
When Thomas was growing up, this kind of spiced omelet was a favorite breakfast of hers. She sautés a generous amount of parsley, then adds aromatic vegetables and sautés them briefly before adding the eggs. For a flavorful, crunchy topping, sprinkle the omelet with caramelized shallots. (See note.)
Serves 2
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive or unrefined coconut oil
2 cups parsley, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. cayenne flakes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 eggs, whisked with a fork until frothy
Heat oil in a 30-cm. nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Shield yourself with a lid as you toss in the chopped parsley, as it will splutter before it crisps up. Now lower the heat and add shallots. Sauté until light brown in color, about five minutes. Add jalapeño, garlic, cayenne flakes, salt, and pepper to the pan and sauté for 30 seconds.
Pour the beaten eggs into the pan, lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover and cook (do not stir) until done, about two minutes. Loosen from the pan with a spatula and fold in half.
Note: Caramelized Shallots – Heat 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add 4 shallots, sliced into rings, and sauté in a single layer for one minute. Add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder, 1/8 teaspoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon chaat masala (mixed Indian spice) and ¼ teaspoon salt. Give a good stir and leave undisturbed until edges of the shallot start to brown. Turn shallots over and brown until golden, four to six minutes; avoid burning.
Thomas calls this her Southeast Asian take on American Southwestern salad. She recommends rinsing onion slices in water to reduce their pungency so they won’t overwhelm your salad or your palate.
Serves 2
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil
1 Tbsp. white or red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
½ onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 cup parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
1 can black beans (400 gr.), drained and rinsed well
4 cups baby spinach
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 plum, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced, and rinsed in cold water
Toasted nuts and seeds (see note below)
Zest of 1 lemon
Whisk dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Stir in chopped parsley. Set aside.
Add beans. Check seasoning. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Toss spinach, apple, plum, and red onion slices with the beans. Serve topped with toasted nuts and seeds and with lemon zest.
Note: Toasted nuts and seeds: Toast 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pine nuts, 1 cup sliced almonds, 2 cups sunflower seeds and 2 cups pumpkin seeds in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until light brown, about four minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder and 1 teaspoon salt (truffle salt if you like).