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Greens–Easy, Economical & Delicious!

Kale is Fruits & Veggies–More Matters “veggie of the month” and it got me thinking about how much I love greens–ALL greens, kale included.  They’re so versatile and no matter what the season, they’re readily available in your supermarket’s produce section.  An added bonus is they’re super economical and packed with nutrition.  Did you know that 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded raw spinach contains the following recommended allowances of these nutrients: 20% dietary fiber, 70% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C and 20% iron?  I guess Popeye knew what he was talking about!

The term “greens” covers many varieties–kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens and broccoli rabe are a few of the more common.  If you’re not familiar with them, these varieties while similar, have their own unique qualities.  For example, spinach tends to have a more “mellow” flavor and the leaves are tender, making them ideal for salads.  Turnip greens, collards and kale have a sharper flavor and can are great to use for soups and stews like this recipe for Beans & Greens Soup as their leaf consistency holds up better.  Broccoli rabe has a unique flavor, some say almost bitter, but it goes especially well with sauteed garlic. 

In reality, all varieties can be used in place of one another–it’s really a personal preference.  You’ll have to experiment and decide which kind of green you prefer using in a specific recipe.  One idea for using greens I want to share with you that I frequently use is preparing them with pasta.  I have done this using all of the above mentioned greens, but my favorite varieties to use for this are broccoli rabe or collard greens.  You can make this as a side dish or use it as a meatless main dish.  Hope you enjoy!

Greens & Pasta

1lb. box spaghetti or linguini (whole grain/wheat variety if possible)
5-6 cups of chopped collard greens or broccoli rabe
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/8 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (sprinkled on top)

Cook spaghetti or linguini according to directions.  In the meantime, in a large pot add olive oil, garlic and greens over medium heat.  Saute and stir for 3 minutes and then cover.  Reduce heat to low and let cook, stirring every few minutes until the greens are cooked through and tender (the greens will cook down in size considerably).  Add cooked pasta and mix.  Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (optional).  Serve and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top right before serving. 
Serves 4-5 main meal servings or 7-8 side servings

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