Summer greens like lettuce and spinach grow quickly and when harvested at their peak, are tender and delicious. However, if you wait until they have seeded, then you have a bitter green on your hands. Although salads are a great way to use these vegetables, you just may not be able to keep up with their swift growth. Here are other ways to use up those greens!
Pesto is the greatest go-to for excess greens and so rewarding to pull out of your freezer in the winter. Its traditional basil can be supplemented or substituted entirely with any number of herbs and greens, including cilantro. Freeze pesto in ice cube trays, then transfer cubes to freezer bags for longer storage.
Spinach and arugula make delicious additions to soup, wilting down so substantially that you can use up large quantities. You can puree them or use them whole. Lettuce can also be used in a soup. Blend the leaves with stock and add fresh peas! You can also blanch and purée the greens, freezing them in portions to add to soups all year.
Toppers & Wraps
Try leafy greens as a topping for burgers, pizza, or grilled cheese. Use larger lettuce leaves in places of traditional sandwich wraps for a fresh and light meal.
Sharing is caring. If soups and pestos aren’t your thing, give the greens to family, friends and neighbors! You can also swap with your garden growing neighbors for greens or veggies that you don’t have.
Here are some great summer greens and why you should eat them now!
Spinach: A great substitution for regular head and iceberg lettuce, spinach is incredibly nutritious, containing vitamins, A, C and K, manganese, magnesium, folate and iron, as well as flavonoids that have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers. Choose spinach that has crisp, green leaves, and avoid leaves that have insect damage.
Cilantro: Cilantro looks like parsley, but it has a much more distinctive taste. It also has a wide variety of nutritional benefits. It is particularly high in immune-boosting vitamins A and C and is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration. It’s also full of fiber, important for lowering cholesterol and supporting general good health.
Arugula: This peppery leafy green is a source of the bone-builders calcium and vitamin K. Higher intakes of cruciferous veggies such as arugula may lessen the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers, as well as prostate cancer.
What ever you decide to do, enjoy the abundance of summer greens while they last!
Photo from here, with thanks.