The fact that green vegetables are good for you is common knowledge. However, the true extent of their health benefits is often overlooked, and on top of this, they’re packed – packed – with flavour, which is why they star in loads of Jamie’s recipes.
Sadly, though, greens – the likes of spinach, cabbage, broccoli, beet leaves, chicory, cavolo nero, Chinese leaf and Swiss chard – aren’t always thought of as being particularly tasty, but this isn’t surprising if you’ve only eaten them when they’ve been overcooked and undressed, all too often in a school canteen! And there are few things as likely to put you off a food than being forced to eat it as a child – I’m sure the phrase “eat your greens” rang out in many households, it certainly did in mine. However, I’m going to try and dispel these preconceptions and give greens some love.
So, what’s so special about greens? From a nutritional perspective, greens are a source of potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C and B-vitamins such as folate and vitamin B6 – they’re a nutritional powerhouse! When they’re braised and dressed in a little garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, they really do taste delicious, it brings them to life and boosts their flavour. This recipe for braised greens does exactly that.
As well as being packed with nutrients, greens are great for a quick dinner as they’re so speedy to cook, they make a great accompaniment to grilled meats, and are lovely on top of starchy carbohydrates, such as toasted wholemeal bread. They really don’t need cooking for long, it’s essential they are braised or blanched, rather than boiled. When boiled, all the important nutrients leach out into the cooking water and unless you use that water to make a stock or gravy, then you’ll lose much of the goodness. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, so will be lost easily if you’re not mindful of how the greens are cooked.
If you’re still not convinced, there are so so many different types, so keep going until you find one you like. Mixing them up makes things a little more appealing, as they each offer slightly different flavours: chicory, for example, is slightly more bitter-tasting, so great for braising.
And if you need any more persuading to eat your greens, bear in mind that just 80g counts as 1 serving, making it even easier to reach your daily 5-a-day target.
Below are some of my favourite Jamie recipes that hero greens, so get inspired and try them out!