How to Prepare Vegetables
Our nutrition depends on vegetables. Even carnivores wouldn't survive if their prey could not find vegetables to eat! This means that vegetables are at the base of the food chain and should not be considered as a mere side dish to a main course. Rather, vegetables, together with grains and fruit, should be principal elements of a healthy and nutritious diet.
Leafy greens are perfect for people who want quick, tasty and healthy dishes. Common ones include lettuce, kale, broccoli, amaranth, spinach, spider plant and the leaves of sweet potato, turnip and cassava. These greens can be briefly steamed or sauced with fresh seasoning.
What to Look for When Buying Vegetables
When buying leafy greens, look for whole, fully formed leaves that are crisp and shiny. Beware of small holes and dark blemishes that usually show that insects have been at work. Because leafy greens are delicate and perishable, it's obvious when they are past their peak of freshness.
The leaves should never be limp, discolored or brown. always check the cut stem for rusty, brown or slimy ends, which means the greens have been sitting for to long. If you buy your leafy greens wet, they should be dried before you store them in your refrigerator.
Leafy greens should be used within three days of purchase and stored in perforated plastic bags (to allow them to breathe), which you can make by punching small holes in ordinary produce bag with large fork. Before you cook the greens, trim tough stem ends, discard tough or discolored leaves and wash them well. Give them a good rinse but handle them gently.
How To Wash Them
To wash leafy green vegetables, fill a large bowl or a clean sink with cold water. Submerge the greens briefly, shake them gently to release any clinging dirt and drain them in a colander. Repeat the process if the greens are particularly gritty or rinse them under a running tap. Resist the urge to soak the greens, as this can cause them to lose valuable minerals.
After washing, it is not necessary to dy the greens before sautéing or steaming them because the water left on the leaves will aid in their cooking. Cut the tougher greens into bite-sized pieces or shred them, but leave the smaller, more delicate greens whole.
Because greens have their own unique flavors, it is best to use them in simple recipes such as heating a little oil in a pot over moderated heat and then putting in the washed greens. Add some seasoning and stir the leafy greens constantly until they begin to wilt. If you are trying to avoid added fat in your diet, this is a quick and easy cooking method.
The distinctive flavors of leafy greens go well with seasoning such as chilli powder, garlic, lemon juice, basil, tomatoes, nuts and even fish sauces.
Note: Leafy greens are a special variety of vegetables characterized by their green color, which comes from their chlorophyll.