Spring greens are a wonderful addition to our veggies during Spring, early Summer time. You can use them as a healthy side, raw or steamed in salads, mixed with millet in a wonderful tabbouleh or this amazing quick and simple pesto.
They are part of the brassica family along side cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips and mustard seeds. Therefore, their nutritional value is similar to the other members of the family.
WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR
Research into their nutritional value is a bit hard to come by but what I have managed to find is that they are high in vitamin C important in maintaining a powerful immune system, vitamin K which helps the blood coagulate (without it serious bleeding would occur!) as well as Calcium. In order to ensure the Calcium is absorbed into the body you need to ensure you combine this with protein sources (eggs, chicken or if you follow a vegan lifestyle then pulses are great sources of protein).
This vitamin is absorbed in your small bowel due to presence of certain healthy bacteria that enables this. So if you have been taking long courses of antibiotics which usually kill the good bacteria in your gut then this vitamin might not be absorbed. Whenever I go to the doctors here in the UK I find it very unusual that they do not at least recommend taking probiotics with your antibiotics to help built back your healthy gut bacteria. Back home in Romania this is seen as compulsory! You can easily find probiotics in pharmacies and health shops. Be warned though that not all brands contain a high dose of probiotics. If you want to find out what brands I have taken just leave me a message.
HOW TO COOK AND STORE IT
In order to have the benefit of most of the nutrients eat as fresh as possible and store in a cool place.
You can use it as any vegetable from the brassica family. So sometimes I steam it for 3 min and then add a dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil ,salt and a few chillies. Lime and ginger dressing works just as well.
Just remember, in order to still get the health benefit of vitamin C which usually is lost with heavy cooking keep this to a minimum (steam for 3 min no more or use raw ideally before 6pm so you can easily digest it).
Quick Spring greens pesto – Recipe
Preparation time: 3 min
Difficulty: super easy, super quick
Suitable for: Gluten free
- Bunch of spring greens
- Handful of basil leaves
- Small garlic clove
- Handful of pine nuts
- 2 generous glugs of olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Pull apart the leaves from the spring greens and give them a good wash. The outer leaves tend to have thicker cores so I would cut them. However, do not discard them as you can use them for stock for soup or when you boil your pasta. It will give a nice flavour.
Put all ingredients in food processor with an S blade and blitz for 2 min or until the it forms a bright green paste. And it’s all done!
How to use the pesto
I love this sauce as it’s so versatile, I can use it in pasta, quinoa or just drizzle over roasted or steamed veggies.
Pesto Pasta is the perfect choice for a Friday night supper, or even when you have friends around and you want to put together something quick, simple, nutritious and full of taste. I can guarantee you it will not disappoint at the dinner table. And you will feel great about it as well as it’s more nutritious and much easier to digest than your normal pesto in a jar and wheat pasta.
You can use other shapes of pasta, but will choose something that has ridges able to hold the sauce. Fusilli, gemelli, trofie from Liguria are perfect choices.
I am always the advocate of variety and not relying in the overused powerhouse wheat. There are so many varieties now, from buckwheat (which is also gluten free), rice, quinoa so plenty varieties to choose from!
Simple and delicious spring greens pesto penne – Recipe
Preparation time: 15 min
Difficulty: super easy, super quick
Suitable for: Vegetarian
- 6 generous tbps springs greens pesto
- Bag of organic spelt pene (I used Biona)
- Generous pinch of salt
- Basil leaves to decorate
- Parmesan to grate
- 3-4 tbps of cooking water
- A few pine nuts
- A few leftover spring greens leaves
Put boiling water in a pan and add generous pinch of salt. Remember most of the water will be discarded so you will not eat all that salt. Add the pene and cook as per instructions. I know I am not Italian but please please do not overcook the pasta! Spelt and other non wheat flour based pasta takes quicker to cook so do check out the instructions. At the same time take the spring greens leaves, roll them like a cigar and cut fairly fine strips. Use a steamer basket and put on top of the pasta. Steam for 3 min not more and then set aside.
Take a mug and scoop some cooking water out from the pasta. Don’t worry if some of the pasta will get into the mug.
In a pan pour the pesto, steamed spring greens leaves and mix it with some of the cooking water until it creates a loose but not watery sauce. Warm through gently on the hob.
Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce. Shake well to ensure all pasta is covered. Grate some parmesan, add a few pin nuts for extra crunch and a bit of olive oil to make sure it is loosen. I don’t know about you but I hate dry pasta! It needs to be silky and smooth.
To serve just grate a bit more parmesan and decorate with basil. Voila!
Dinner for 4 sorted in less than 20 min!